Kuchar Digs In: It's A Social Media Issue, Won't Lose Sleep And Even Throws Steiny Under The Bus For Trying To Mop Up His Mess!

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Matt Kuchar spoke to GolfChannel.com’s Will Gray Wednesday at the Genesis Open and FedExCup leader, all-time leading money winner without a major who won last fall’s Mayakoaba event after a four-year winless drought with his “lucky charm” local caddie, is digging in.

Mooooooooooch!

Kuchar confirmed he paid “El Tucan” $5000 and the Golf.com report that his agent has since offered an additional $15,000 refused by Ortiz. And he’s not happy about that either. But more on that momentarily.

The graciousness ended fairly quicklky in the chat with Gray.

“I kind of feel like unfortunately some other people have got it in his head that he’s deserving something different than what we agreed upon,” Kuchar said.

He’s certainly correct that he paid $1000 more than they agreed upon, but given that it was Kuchar’s first win in __ years and that a winner’s bonus usually comes with the PGA Tour territory, he’s been blasted for not paying more.

“I ended up paying him $5,000 and I thought that was more than what we agreed upon,” Kuchar said. “I kind of think, if he had the chance to do it over again, same exact deal, that he’d say yes again.”

Good to see he learns from his mistakes!. And that he has shrewd sounding boards all around!

This may be the fatal quote…

“It’s done. Listen, I feel like I was fair and good,” he said. “You can’t make everybody happy. You’re not going to buy people’s ability to be OK with you, and this seems to be a social media issue more than anything. I think it shouldn’t be, knowing that there was a complete, agreed-upon deal that not only did I meet but exceeded.

“So I certainly don’t lose sleep over this. This is something that I’m quite happy with, and I was really happy for him to have a great week and make a good sum of money. Making $5,000 is a great week."

Glad he’s not losing sleep. But in digging in, he’s certainly losing fans and at some point, endorsement income built on a “good guy” image.

Another interview with Golf.com’s Michael Bamberger comes off even worse, suggesting “someone got in his ear”, referring to El Tucan, and says the attempt to make a payment was the idea of his agent. But he didn’t exactly approve of the idea.

Kuchar seemed slightly embarrassed that the additional sum had been offered, as he felt his financial obligation to Ortiz was complete. Asked how it came to be that the additional sum was offered, Kuchar said, “That was the agency.” He was referring to Excel Sports Management, which represents him. Kuchar’s agent there is Mark Steinberg, who also represents Tiger Woods and Justin Rose.

And in case those legendary cheapskate cred wasn’t strong enough…

Kuchar smiled and said, “It’s not coming out of Steinberg’s pocket.” In other words, Kuchar would be paying. He said the additional proffered payment was Steinberg’s effort at damage control.

Given that when you start typing Matt Kuchar into the Google Machine “Matt Kuchar El Tucan” pops up, the issue will, fairly or not, define his career.

Sergio Says "Emotional, Personal news" Played Role In Petulant Saudi Arabia Showing

We all certainly wish the best for anyone in the sport receiving bad news in the middle of a tournament, though nearly two weeks after a bunker meltdown and on-course vandalism of five-greens, Sergio Garcia tells Golf Channel’s Todd Lewis that there was more to his rough week in Saudi Arabia.

From Rex Hoggard’s report on the Golf Central interview:

“I received some very emotional, personal news earlier that week that didn’t help. It was in the back of my mind. As I became frustrated on the course everything erupted,” Garcia told Golf Channel’s Todd Lewis on Wednesday ahead of the Genesis Open.

Garcia didn’t go into detail about the personal news but said he spent last week reflecting on his behavior at the European Tour event, where he damaged several greens and was disqualified for what officials deemed “serious misconduct.”

“It was a mix of some emotional and personal things going on and a little frustration with the greens,” said Garcia, who also issued an apology on Tuesday via social media.

The full interview aired on Golf Central and will be posted online.

AP’s Doug Ferguson also talked to Garcia and several of his peers. Garcia admitted he agreed with Brooks Koepka’s recent assessment and also took hits from Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott.

This from McIlroy:

"It doesn't matter where you're from. It's not acceptable," McIlroy said. "If you've got stuff bothering you, let the course be your sanctuary. I've had to deal with that in the past."

Sergio: "I’m focused on working hard to channel that emotion the correct way and to be the best me"

In anticipation of his 2019 PGA Tour debut, Sergio Garcia has posted an apology for his actions in Saudi Arabia, that included a bunker tantrum for the ages and vandalism to the Royal Greens course, leading to disqualification.

Happy to be in my first @pgatour event of the season and have my brother on the bag again this year. I’ve obviously had some time to reflect, and want to again say I’m sorry to my fans and fellow competitors. What happened is not an example I want to set, and it's not who I truly am. I am an emotional player and while I believe that's one of my biggest strengths, it's also one of my biggest flaws. I’m focused on working hard to channel that emotion the correct way and to be the best me, learn from it and move forward. Thanks for all the support.

Tony Jacklin: Sergio Deserves A Suspension, Made Fool Of Himself, Needs Break From The Game

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Tony Jimenez with a Daily Express story after talking with English great and former Ryder Cup captain Tony Jacklin about Sergio Garcia’s antics last week in Saudi Arabia.

“It was worthy of more than disqualification. I’d have banned him. Damaging greens on a golf course is an offence that deserves a suspension.

“The European Tour have said the incident is over and it’s time to move on. Well, if he’s not going to be banned, then I’d like to see him take a self-imposed break from the game.

“I think he needs time to realise how fortunate he is, at 39, to have everything money can buy, a young family and everything to be grateful for,” said Jacklin, the most successful captain in European Ryder Cup history and winner of the 1969 Open and 1970 US Open.

“To see his frustration spill over the way it did last week shows he’s not in a well-balanced state of mind. There seems to be an anger within him and golf is a game you can’t play angry.”

He will and the European Tour will not discourage it even if time off is in Garcia’s best interest.

To recap, Garcia vandalized greens, leaving damage behind for other players to deal with. He threw a bunker hissy fit for the ages over a bad rake job the day prior. European Tour Chief Keith Pelley says the matter is closed.

Garcia is set to play in Los Angeles next week.

The Fisherman Is Ready For His Monterey Peninsula Debut!

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Hosung Choi has got an A-list partner in actor Chris O’Donnell and a pairing with Jerry Kelly and Aaron Rodgers for three days as Rodgers had hoped, including Saturday at Pebble Beach. (Full times and TV listings here.)

Choi’s already got a logo, a following, haters and who knows what else. But the 45-year-old has no plans to change his swing, writes Steve DiMeglio. Shoot, maybe by Saturday Peter Kostis will even have seen him swing and might have his first humorous observation since the mid-90s when Frank Chirkinian fed him a line!

While some pretty big PGA Tour names have arrived and some intriguing pro-am names are in town too, Choi adds a grace levity that will undoubtedly be squashed when Bill Murray comes into camera view.

Here is Choi, world 194, teeing off the 18th at Pebble Beach:

Brooks On Sergio's Meltdown: “To act like a child out there is not cool."

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As the European Tour shields Sergio Garcia from the punishment he deserves for vandalizing the field of play a day after a childish bunker tantrum (also to damage playing surfaces he found improperly groomed to his standards), he’s been called out by last year’s two-time major winner Brooks Koepka.

Appearing on the Playing Through podcast, worth a listen to hear the full context and all of his comments, the disdain in Koepka’s voice as well as his defense of course conditions only reinforces just how desperately Garcia needs time off.

From GolfDigest.com’s Brian Wacker, co-host of the pod, with just one of Koepka’s quotes:

“Ugh, it's frustrating as a player to see, to act like that, to disrespect everybody,” said Koepka, who was playing two groups in front of the former Masters champion but didn’t know what happened until afterward. “To act like a child out there is not cool. It's not setting a good example and it's not cool to us, showing us no respect or anybody else.”

Matt Adams and I discussed where Garcia’s antics fall in the pantheon of scandalous on-field acts during today’s Golf Central Alternate Shot (middle topic).

Paspalum Dynasty: Players Acknowledge Sergio's "Not Normal" "Tantrum"

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Brian Keogh unearths additional details for The Independent and in a separate piece, offers a very PG-rated translation of Sergio Garcia’s rantings from the Royal Greens bunker.

There was an apology told to Spanish news agency EFE “shortly after his disqualification” reports Keogh.

“What happened this week is not something I am proud of,” Garcia told the Spanish news agency EFE shortly after his disqualification.

“We are all human, and we all make mistakes, but the important thing is to learn from them. The mistake is not learning from mistakes.”

So there is a chance you could make a mistake on top of the mistake you’ve already made if you don’t learn from this mistake. Got it.

Of more interest are the details filling in names of some players and caddies who turned Garcia in for vandalizing Royal Greens’ “Paspalum Dynasty” greens on top of names like Robert Rock and Patrick Reed who already acknowledged they saw the Spaniard’s efforts to deface the greens.

His antics in round three included leaving scuff marks and a divot on five greens as he played alongside the young Italian Renato Paratore, whose caddie felt Garcia’s tantrum was excessively prolonged.

According to EFE, Paratore’s Spanish caddie Javier Erviti said: “We are used to shows of character because we are Latinos, but we had the impression this tantrum was a bit over the top.”

Compatriot Jorge Campillo and his caddie Borja Simo, who were two groups behind Garcia and Paratore, called rules officials when they spotted deliberate damage to several greens.

“We knew it could affect us and the groups behind us,” Simo told EFE.

Campillo added: “It could happen once to any of us but several times is not normal.”

At the end of the round, tournament director David Phillips was waiting for Garcia, armed with an electronic tablet and showed him the photos.

So we have more confirmation that the European Tour has a file documenting the damage but it seems the chances are slim we’ll ever see them.

We discussed the situation on Morning Drive:

 

Keith Pelley's Awful Week Concludes With No Plans To Further Penalize Sergio Garcia

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As we begin a week of discussion about the Rules of Golf and professionals declare how they need to make their own rules, just consider what took place with Sergio Garcia in Saudi Arabia. At least in the European Tour’s case, I’m not sure they are the best judges of their players.

To review, Garcia is turned in by his peers for intentionally vandalizing greens at Royal Greens in the inaugural event where the tournament host likely ordered a journalist’s murder and dismemberment. There were no fans on site and few media, so the antics could only be noticed by his peers. The Scotsman’s Martin Dempster quoted a few of the witnesses who, amazingly, chalk the behavior up to a mistake even as they watched a player vandalize the playing surfaces.

Worse, the European Tour intends no further action:

However, according to the European Tour’s chief executive, Keith Pelley, the matter is now closed. “The incident is over,” he said, speaking at the event in King Abdullah Economic City. “We have dealt with it. Sergio has apologised to the players and we move on.”

While no video has surfaced of Garcia dragging his feet, Dempster posted this image shared with him of Garcia having taken a divot out of a green. Conduct unbecoming, needless to say.

The day prior, Garcia threw this hissy fit in a bunker:

As I noted here, Garcia needs a long suspension. He previously took a six month break from the game and it did wonders for his attitude. A longer break would serve him and the game well at this point.

That Keith Pelley is unwilling to recognize this in an obvious effort to protect a star is both sad and irresponsible. Ultimately the European Tour’s credibility hinges on a sense that a fair playing field is paramount, as is the upholding of basic etiquette in a sport where sponsors pay handsomely to be associated with the quality sportsmanship so consistently demonstrated by most professional golfers.

Sergio Garcia Probably Needs To Be Given The Year Off, For Starters

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I’ve quizzed longtime observers and no one can come up with anything in the history of professional golf comparable to Sergio Garcia’s disqualification under Rule 1.2a for purposely damaging the Royal Greens.

For a player who lowered the bar when he spit into a Doral cup during the 2007 CA WGC event, the notion of altering the playing field is an entirely different beast. Worse, in his statement he mentions damaging a “couple” of greens, but Martin Dempster, reporting on site for The Scotsman, says it was five greens.

Garcia’s statement:

The incident Saturday culminated a week of bad behavior from Garcia. Alistair Tait noted for Golfweek that “Garcia is alleged to have complained about the greens earlier in the week. The decision came a day after he slammed a club in a bunker in anger.”

James Corrigan also noted the weeklong antics.

Struggling at around level par, Garcia’s renowned rage got the better of him as he slammed his club into the putting surfaces on multiple occasions. Observers at the Royal Greens Country Club revealed that he was heard criticisng the greens earlier in the week and on Friday was seen taking out his dislike of the bunkers by smashing down his sand-wedge.

The American Patrick Reed was involved as he was in the group immediately behind Garcia that first drew the officials’ attention to the gouges on the greens. The three groups following Reed also complained to the referees and it was then that Tour chief executive, Keith Pelley, confronted Garcia.

Ewan Murray noted this about the incident for The Guardian:

Sky Sports curiously reserved little attention for this newsworthy situation at the conclusion of their live broadcast, with the 62 produced by China’s Li Haotong deemed worthy of far more coverage.

Pelley could have done without these antics by one of his tour’s most high-profile players. The European Tour’s decision to visit Saudi Arabia for the first time has been subject of widespread criticism on the basis of human rights infringements by the country.

Here is the meeting with Pelley after play:

The dreadful incident is a fitting black eye for a tournament that should not have been played. But beyond the optics, given the weeklong behavior, the career of etiquette breaches and the absurdity of damaging the host course, Garcia should be suspended for the remainder of the 2019 season.

Consider the last penalty for a rule 1.2a violation from Corrigan’s account:

The last high-profile pro to be hit with a misconduct charge was Simon Dyson in 2013. The Yorkshireman was disqualified from the BMW Masters and was forced to pay a £30,000 fine and received a two-month suspended ban. Dyson's crime was to tap down a spike mark, an act that was then against the rules, but which is now allowed.

Dyson’s act was a selfish, split-second mistake that might have improved the playing surface for himself. Garcia intentionally damaged a host venue and left behind poor conditions for those playing after him. It’s an unprecedented breach that calls for an unprecedented penalty.

67: Matthew Wolff Makes Impressive PGA Tour Debut

The southern California native and Oklahoma State standout with the eye-opening swing used a sponsor’s invite opened the Waste Management Phoenix Open with a 68.

Cameron Morfit revisits Matthew Wolff’s story for PGATour.com and the swing “issues” he’s faced (translation: others taking issue with an unorthodox move).

“It was awesome,” Wolff said after going 1 over for his first five holes before making five birdies the rest of the way. “It’s probably more than I hoped for, especially at this tournament, which is unlike any other tournament. … I was really nervous at first but settled in and played nice.”

Known for his clubhead speed, Wolff averaged 328.1 on the measuring holes and 318.9 yards on all holes.

Love this action:

Koepka On Pace Of Play: “Guys are already so slow it’s kind of embarrassing."

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Brooks Koepka sat down with Golf Monthly’s Michael Weston in that progressive haven known as Saudi Arabia to discuss various topics for a podcast. Inspired by Bryson DeChambeau’s pace last weekend in Dubai, Koepka expressed a lack of patience for slow pokes.

“I just don’t understand how it takes a minute and 20 seconds, a minute and 15 to hit a golf ball; it’s not that hard,” Koepka said.

“It’s always between two clubs; there’s a miss short, there’s a miss long. It really drives me nuts especially when it’s a long hitter because you know you’ve got two other guys or at least one guy that’s hitting before you so you can do all your calculations; you should have your numbers.

“Obviously if you’re the first guy you might take ten extra seconds, but it doesn’t take that long to hit the ball, especially if it’s not blowing 30.

“If it’s blowing 30 I understand taking a minute and taking some extra time with some gusts, you know changing just slightly, I get that but if it’s a calm day there’s no excuse.

“Guys are already so slow it’s kind of embarrassing. I just don’t get why you enforce some things and don’t enforce others.”

The full pod is available at the link.

Bryson Battles "Proprioception" En Route To Dubai 66

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Bryson DeChambeau struggled to the 36-hole lead of the Dubai Desert Classic despite proprioception problems.

To save you the trouble

Proprioception (/ˌproʊprioʊˈsɛpʃən, -priə-/[1][2] PROH-pree-o-SEP-shən), is the sense of the relative position of one's own parts of the body and strength of effort being employed in movement.[3] It is sometimes described as the "sixth sense".[4]

Got to love that SMU education!

Brandel: By Mexico Standards, Kuchar's Caddie Had A Great Week

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Brandel Chamblee may have stumbled onto to something that will excite sponsors of golf tournaments in economically unstable countries and, get this, help the PGA Tour funnel even more money to charity!

In a GolfChannel.com column, Chamblee argues that Matt Kuchar’s underpaid looper in last fall’s Mayakoba Classic was enumerated handsomely by Mexico’s standards, justifying the lack of normal PGA Tour caddie pay.

In Mexico, depending upon the source, the average weekly salary is $285. Ortiz makes a reported $200 a day – six days a week – being a caddie at Mayakoba, about four times the average weekly salary. Assuming he was idle for a week as the Tour took over his course, he would have been out $1,200. But he was, by all accounts, paid at minimum $5,000 – not the initially inferred $3K – roughly four times his average salary and around 17 times the average salary in Mexico. One can easily see why he would be inclined to enter into such an agreement with Kuchar. It was by any definition, a good week for him.

Now, I think we should push this theory forward a bit and suggest that this standard apply not just to the uh, help, but also to the players. If times are lean in a country, PGA Tour purses should reflect what is a good payday in those lands. That way we don’t have controversies like this going forward!

As for Tom Gillis, who called out Kuchar’s payment and tracked down the caddie to find out he received $5000 of Kuchar’s $1.3 million, Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch talks to the now-senior golfer about his role in calling out the underpayment on Twitter.

“Maybe I should have been a union rep,” Gillis said with a laugh. “I’d be willing to fight for the little guy anytime.”

A player prone to policing the personal affairs of his colleagues must accumulate enemies on Tour, I suggested.

“I’m sure some of them are totally against it and think we shouldn’t be airing that dirty laundry. That’s fine,” he replied. “When the man gets paid I can look in the mirror and feel good that I helped this guy out. When I hit the button to send that stuff out, I’m well aware of what’s coming with it.”

Euros Turn On Each Other Too! Fernández-Castaño Cites Dyson The Tapperer While Highlighting Oddity Of Legal Spike Mark Repairing

I love these new rules of golf!

While Tom Gillis researches and reports on what Matt Kuchar underpays his caddies, things on the European Tour turned chippy as Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño highlighted the oddity of legal spikemark tapping, then threw one of his colleagues under the bus.

Dyson’s offending moment:

Besides a few of the player replies to the Tweet (Eddie Pepperell’s GIF selection was splendid), Dyson chimed in:

Seems that was not visible to Castano, however.

Gillis Tracks Down Duped Looper El Tucan: Kuchar Actually Paid $5000 After Mayakoba Classic Win

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The bad news for pro golfer Tom Gillis is that he has been in contact with Matt Kuchar’s caddie El Tucan from last fall’s Mayakoba Classic and it was not $3000, as he accused while Kuchar was contending in the Sony Open.

The good news for Gillis is that the number El Tucan shared was $5000, incredibly low for a winning caddie effort in a PGA Tour event where the winner took him $1.3 million.

Good news for Kuchar! His quote after third round play is accurate: “It’s wasn’t 10 percent. It wasn’t $3,000.”

Take that Gillis!

Of course, $5000 could be viewed as a worse story because that is certainly more than the agreed-upon fee for a week involving a last-minute pickup. But it’s still painfully little as a fee plus-win-bonus amount.

Because as far as win bonuses go, it’s below the minimum, especially when you had not won in years.

Let’s just say if you’re a waiter and Matt Kuchar is in your section, don’t count a little extra something for the, you know, the effort. Or total consciousness.

Kuch The Mooch: "Does This Constitute A Story?"

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That’s the question GolfDigest.com’s Joel Beall asks and does a nice job answering after a fellow golf pro called out what he saw as Matt Kuchar’s substandard pay to a caddie last fall.

Now, while the list of athletes indiscretions is long, being tightfisted spurs a special kind of fury. Ours is a culture that implores the rich to spread the love; those failing are branded. Michael Jordan, Scottie (“No Tippin”) Pippen, Pete Sampras and, yes, Tiger Woods are some of the alleged stars with alligator arms.

Kuchar's case, however, felt different, for it wasn’t a tip as it was wages owed. The optics alone—a veteran with $46 million in career earnings low-balling a man who makes less than $46,000 a year—were damning. That Gillis’ previous blast of Ben Crane over an unpaid bet to Daniel Berger proved accurate wasn’t helping, nor was Australian pro Cameron Percy’s reply of, “It’s not out of character if true.” 

The irony in this escapade like other recent episodes cited by Beall: this was started and fueled by one of Kuchar’s peers, not a media outlet.

As players have increasingly shunned media for social media to break news or tell their story, it’s fascinating how many examples we’ve already seen of players calling out fellow players on social media in ways more harsh and reputation-damaging than a traditional media outlet would dare.

After all, few in the golf press dared to touch the story until Kuchar had a chance to play his round, collect his thoughts and chat with press. Some of his peers were judging before he’d had a chance to comment. It’s a phenomenon worth nothing as players increasing view traditional journalism as “out to get them” even as, at least in Kuchar’s case, the damage was done before he even reached the media center.

Bad News Winning Pro Golfers: Fans Think Your Caddies Are 10 Percenters

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In light of Matt Kuchar possibly stiffing his celebrated caddie at last fall’s Mayakoba Classic, Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch posed the question of what constitutes proper payment for a winning bag week loop.

Impressively, 10% is dominating while the $3000 Kuchar possibly paid his man brings up the rear.

Mooch? Former PGA Tour Player Gillis Says Kuchar Paid Local Caddie Only $3k After Collecting $1.3 Million Check

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Former PGA Tour player Tom Gillis took to Twitter suggesting Matt Kuchar, 2019 Sony Open leader, former Players Champion and winner of $45 million in his PGA Tour career, might want to pay his caddie this week more than the $3000 he claims Kuchar paid “David” upon winning last fall’s Mayakoba Classic.

The win garnered Kuchar a $1.3 million winner’s check plus presumed bonuses. You may recall that David was a local caddie Kuchar used when he entered last minute and his normal looper, John Wood, had a previous engagement.

Gillis’ Tweet:

To his credit, Gillis answered and Tweeted questions from skeptics unsure of his sources or motivations.

Following his third round at the Sony, Kuchar denied the amount quoted and said it was not a story. From Rex Hoggard’s GolfChannel.com story:

“That’s not a story,” Kuchar said. “It’s wasn’t 10 percent. It wasn’t $3,000. It’s not a story.”

You may recall that the euphoria over David’s effort prompted Michael Bamberger to dig a little deeper, writing this following up for Golf.com back in November 2018:

10. In a qualifier for the tournament, Ortiz caddied for a Mexican golfer, Armando Favela, who made it into the tournament and finished in a tie for 16th, making him the low Mexican. Favela earned $108,000.

11. Asked if he made more money than Favela last week, Ortiz said, “I hope so!” He had not yet received or discussed his pay with Kuchar. He knows the standard caddie bonus is 10 percent of the winner’s share. Kuchar earned $1.3 million for his win, his first since 2014.

So far just Brandel Chamblee has come to Kuchar’s defense, suggesting the pay was legitimately fair for a local caddie.

LOL Alert: Vijay Says Lawsuit Settlement Was "Good For Both Sides"

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And you thought he was not a humorist!

Speaking to Golf.com’s Michael Bamberger about the five year PED case’s settlement as a trial neared:

“It was good for both sides, I guess. I’m glad it’s over. It lingered on and on and on and it’s nice to just finally have it behind me. The PGA Tour has always been a great organization. It was just a [PED rule] that didn’t pan out. Everybody knows about it, I’m glad it’s over.”

Singh, 55, also outlined his plans to keep taking up a spot on the PGA Tour by playing a full West Coast Swing schedule. Charming.

In the last two PGA Tour seasons, Singh has missed 17 of 28 cuts. His best finishes came at the 2017 Players (T16) and 2018 Masters (49th).