Matt Kuchar has caused controversy once again after trying to gain an advantage that left even Memorial Tournament host Jack Nicklaus dumbfounded, and others calling him a cheat.
It seems that controversy keeps following American Kuchar around the PGA TOUR, but the latest episode on the opening day of the Memorial at Muirfield Village left a bad taste in the mouth of fans and fellow players.
Playing the 17th hole of a round that would finish with Kuchar carding a one-over par 73, he tried to gain an advantage from what he believed was his ball being sat in its own pitch mark from his drive.
Kuchar was involved in a debate with PGA Tour rules official Robby Ware, with both actually agreeing that the pitch mark on the fairway was not his own. Playing partner Rickie Fowler also agreed with the duo.
But where the rules official and Kuchar disagreed was that the American believed his ball was embedded as a result of his ball creating a second pitch mark inside the original one.
With a cameraman used to show footage of the moment the ball pitched, it was clear that Kuchar’s ball has bounced forward before coming to rest—and had not created the pitch mark which the player believed it had.
It all stacked up to some claims of cheating from Kuchar, who was disgruntled over the incident and said after his round: “I guess it’s not a new embedded ball if it breaks new ground. When looking at the replay I saw in the (camera) it looked like there was potential that it might have broken new (turf).”
Nicklaus, an 18-time major winner who hosts the Memorial Tournament each year, refrained from going in too heavy on Kuchar but said: “That is the most amusing thing I’ve ever seen someone try to get a ruling on.”
Golf fans on social media weren’t so diplomatic as they branded Kuchar a cheat.
European Tour star and world number 36 Eddie Pepperell went one step further when he tweeted: “It’s been quite a year for Matt Kuchar as he leads the PGA TOUR in both money and shithousery.”
Pepperell was referring to two other incidents which have dogged Kuchar over the last six months—the first relating to victory in the Mayakoba Classic last November and the second during WGC-Match Play in March.
Kuchar was found to have paid caddy David Giral Ortiz just $5,000 after winning $1.3 million after his victory in the Mayakoba Classic. He came under intense criticism over the decision to pay the stand-in caddy the small fee, finally giving in to pressure and paying Ortiz $50,000 in March this year.
That was the same month Kuchar was involved in more controversy, this time during a match against Sergio Garcia at the WGC-Match Play.
After missing a putt in their quarter-final, Garcia missed again from a matter of inches for what would have been a concession. But Kuchar hadn’t had time to actually give Garcia the putt before he missed and decided to alert the rules officials to this.
Garcia lost the hole and the match with Kuchar going on to finish runner-up in the event. The American had said afterwards that he “didn’t want to win the hole” in the way he did, despite telling rules officials about the incident.
At the time, Kuchar said: “I said, ‘Sergio, I didn’t say anything. I’m not sure how this works out.’ I didn’t want that to be an issue. So I asked [the referee]. I said, ‘Listen, I don’t know how to handle this, but I didn’t concede the putt. Sergio missed the putt.’”
It was just one of a number of controversies that Kuchar has been at the center of, but the latest left the worst taste for golf fans.