Matt Kuchar Hurt My Feelings, Again. Thanks, Sports Media

AUSTIN, TEXAS - MARCH 31: Matt Kuchar of the United States bumps fists with caddie John Wood on the 17th green in his match against Lucas Bjerregaard of Denmark during the semifinal round of the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club on March 31, 2019 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TEXAS - MARCH 31: Matt Kuchar of the United States bumps fists with caddie John Wood on the 17th green in his match against Lucas Bjerregaard of Denmark during the semifinal round of the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club on March 31, 2019 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

I always thought Matt Kuchar was one of the good ones. And really, I still think he is. It’s just that I’ve come to have far different ideas for what athletes should be and what we should expect of them.

*cough cough* Kinda like after Bubba Watson yelled at Ted Scott publicly mid-round over club selection *cough*. I digress – back to Mr. Matt Kuchar. Let me set the scene.

It couldn’t have been more than 13 months ago that I was vehemently defending Matt Kuchar’s honor in a sports group text against one or two of my best pals. It was summertime in Dallas and I was a young fool, certain my friends were wrong in their baseless accusations toward Kuchar for having anything less than impeccable character.

I was astonished. Who in the world could feel negatively about Matt Kuchar anyway? Surely no kin of mine was bad-mouthing the sweet, Sketchers-wearin’ goofball I had come to know and love over my past six years spent devouring Golf Channel content.

Surely not the easy-going, lovable, and family-oriented fellow I had seen featured some years ago in a YouTube video called PGA TOUR’s Matt Kuchar Shares Life at Home…

How could I not defend Big Kuch?

The only emotion I felt beyond certainty in my amigos being wrong was hope that Kuchar was actually the man of substance he had led me and countless other golf fans worldwide to believe. For as long as I could remember, the man had been all smiles, pleasantries, and good manners – a Dalai Lama of sorts, remaining calm, cool, and collected at all times on and off the course. I mean, come on. The man doesn’t even cuss.

Well… that was sometime around May of 2018, and things for Matt Kuchar, as many of you know, started hitting the fan pretty soon thereafter. Of course, they did…

For those unfamiliar with Matt Kuchar’s last four months, allow me to recap.

First, came the ‘caddie-tipping’ fiasco, which began with Kuchar’s win at the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Riviera Maya, Mexico, on November 11, 2018, but really started when the media circuit and public caught wind of the story again in late January/early February of this year. Tsk tsk.

Next came the conceded-putt issue with Sergio at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in March, without skipping much of a beat following the caddie ordeal at Mayakoba. Here, Kuchar’s reputation caught flak due to him not being vocal in conceding a tap-in, gimme putt to Sergio Garcia that Garcia ended up missing to stay even through seven holes.

Then, most recently and right when I thought we simply HAD to be clear of any more Kuchar-shenanigans, ballmark-gate happened at the Memorial a couple of weeks ago.

Are you kidding me? If you aren’t familiar with what happened here, take a minute to check out that link I shared above because, boy, this was probably the dumbest of all Kuchar fiasco’s to date.

How quickly times change, as do my opinions of athletes with them.

Can you really blame me for being judgmental in wake of being so duped? After all, it hasn’t even been a calendar year since Matthew Gregory Kuchar set out on a campaign to destroy his PGA sainthood. Okay, that was dramatic, but in wake of three controversial issues within the last seven months, it’s as if I get slapped in the face every time I remember so adamantly backing the wrong horse.

Even so, it’s not like I hate Kuchar now. Shoot, I still like him even. It’s just with many grains, or perhaps a brick, of salt. That’s thanks in part to a little definition, found below, that I learned in college. Thanks, Mr. Urich!

"Junkfinger – noun (jəŋk fiŋ-gər) – individual seemingly possessing the ability to turn every aspect of one’s life into a disaster. Everything he touches turns to junk. Opposite of Midas touch. Usage: Uncle Jimmy was hit by a car running after his untrained dog which somehow got his life savings in its mouth. Uncle Jimmy is a Junkfinger."

Ever since learning that definition, I can’t help but remember it. You will now, too. The thing about that definition, though, is that once you learn it, you’ll begin realizing just how many people actually bring misfortune to themselves.

Well, in this article’s case, that misfortune is bad press and, in my mind, Kuchar brought much of it upon himself. So with that in mind, was I really surprised by Kuchar?

Well, okay… Kuchar definitely stunned me at first following the Mayakoba

I mean, most ways you slice it, not giving his caddie more of a cut right out of the gate was a bad look, and such a move from Matt Kuchar blew my mind. “A gaffe,” I thought. “It simply isn’t an honest reflection of his character.”

Well, since then, I think the better word would be ‘disappointed’ because each issue since has been even dumber. Furthermore, they were issues I believe he could have, again, distanced himself from fairly easily.

It’s funny because I often feel sympathetic towards the Kuchar I once loved without hesitation, but then I remember, he’s really just showing his true colors. That’s what athletes and celebrities who are bombarded with scrupulous media attention ultimately do… Show their true colors. What else is there?

Really, any one of us could make such mistakes when stuck in a spotlight where the modus operandi is to stir up controversy and get people into trouble. My thing is, the athletes and celebrities who dominate our headlines are more human – be that for better or worse – than we as fans ever want to realize.

That’s why I mentioned Bubba at the beginning of this piece… It took me one instance of Bubba yelling at his caddie over club selection in 2013 for him to go from one of my favorite players in the world, be that in video games or real life, to one of Tour athletes I respect the least.

It’s a character thing that runs deeper than surface-level. And who knows, maybe Bubba can win me back by not being a spineless jerk for a few more years.

I guess that’s just how it goes when growing up a sports fan. We idolize people only to realize later that they’re all mortals going through the same problems as us, if they’re lucky enough to not be going through worse. With that, I’ve come to realize a few things about athletes and how we look up to them:

1) It’s a bit silly to expect that athletes always be positive role models. Besides, we can take notes from negative role models, moments like Matt Kuchar’s, as well.

Now, I don’t mean that as an excuse for lack of character, I mean it as it pertains to athletes being human. Do athletes and celebrities bring misfortune upon themselves the majority of the time? Of course. But I also think people get tunnel vision when it comes to public relations situations like these. Kuchar isn’t really a bad guy. He’s just himself, as are all athletes, and we can take it or leave it.

2) I’m growing up – a whopping 24 years old now – and am better understanding how public relations within the sports media world works by the day.

More from Pro Golf Now

It’s a world where they make mountains out of molehills and drag spotlight personalities through the mud to make a buck. I tell myself that I’d never skimp on payment for a caddie, or that I would never let something like the issue with Sergio happen, or that I would never complain about the most ridiculous of ballmarks when it comes to the realm of physical possibilities, because I authentically believe that’s the quality of man I am… But even if that is true, how about when millions of dollars are on the line? Then again, what about the millions of views and opinions?


3) For whatever reason, we as fans put athletes on a massive pedestal.

It’s strange how we do that, then turn around and vilify these same people for being human and making mistakes. I don’t know, man. Furthermore, why do people pretend that such celebrities must also be our beacons of morality? Whenever I catch crap for being a Tiger Woods or Tom Brady fan because they’re bad people, I laugh. I’m a fan of the two because they are G.O.A.T.’s in the sports world, not because I want them to teach me to be a moral person. Give me a break.

That reminds me of a YouTube video that I’ve watched it a million times, one with a quote that I think fits really well here. It’s a video Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters on the Howard Stern Show for a live run of “My Hero.” Before Dave starts, those in the studio – Taylor Hawkins included – talk about the song’s inspiration.

As always, some meaning in relation to Kurt Cobain (Dave was the drummer for Nirvana, just in case you didn’t know) gets floated around, but then Howard says something that will always stick with me:

"“I think it’s about, your hero is a guy who… who you can’t believe was your hero, because eventually they disappoint you. It’s guys who should have been your hero, but weren’t.”"

Next. U.S. Open: Who I think is going to win this week at Pebble Beach. dark

Man, if that isn’t modern sports and sports media culture, even media culture overall, in a nutshell. I guess that’s why they call it the blues. (Trust me. You won’t regret clicking that link.)