Matt Kuchar rolled back the years to move into contention for the US PGA Championship on the opening day at Southern Hills – much to the amusement of English pro Eddie Pepperell.
Kuchar, 43, opened with a three-under 67 to lie two shots off the early pace set by Rory McIlroy in the second men’s major of the season.
Should he be the man holding aloft the Wanamaker Trophy on Sunday night, the American would not only claim his first major title at the 64th time of asking, he would also bank a huge cheque, expected to be at least the equal of the $2.16million earned by Phil Mickelson last year.
Kuchar, of course, has an interesting past when it comes to prize money.
Early in 2019, he found himself embroiled in an ugly, public dispute with David Giral Ortiz, a local caddie whose services he had used en route to winning the Mayakoba Golf Classic in November 2018. Kuchar reportedly only paid Ortiz $5,000 out of his $1.296million winner’s prize.
After Ortiz told reporters he was “disappointed” not to have been paid more, Kuchar defended his actions, stating: “For a guy who makes 200 a day, a 5,000 dollar week is a really big week.
In the face of a huge backlash, Kuchar subsequently apologised, paid Ortiz $50,000 and donated an undisclosed amount to local charities in and around Cancun.
So, the prospect of the nine-time PGA Tour winner netting a huge windfall at this week’s US PGA – particularly against a backdrop of huge cost of living increases for the average household – wasn’t something that ‘King of Golf Twitter’ Pepperell was going to miss.
“Kuchar winning a major at a time everyone else is getting poorer would make some sense,” joked the 31-year-old.
Kuchar winning a major at a time everyone else is getting poorer would make some sense.
— Eddie Pepperell (@PepperellEddie) May 19, 2022
He quickly added: “(Feel a little bad about that joke).”
It was a good one, to be fair!