Winning on the PGA Tour is extremely difficult. Winning on the PGA Tour with a caddie you just met the week of the event is even more extraordinary, but that’s exactly what Matt Kuchar did this week at the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
Kuchar was a last-minute addition to the Mayakoba field, and when his usual caddie, John Wood, was unable to make it because of a previous engagement, Mayakoba tournament director Joe Mazzeo set Kuchar up with the caddie coordinator at El Camaleon Golf Course, David Giral Ortiz, a.k.a. “El Tucan.”
The flag was signed by Matt Kuchar.
“David el Tucan. Muchas gracias. Thanks for all your help with an amazing victory.” pic.twitter.com/lG73CQJhTC
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) November 11, 2018
El Tucan, whose nickname comes from his love of music and dancing, is no stranger to elite-level golf. He carried Alex Cjeka’s bag in last year’s event, notching a T9 finish as well as lending a hand to Armando Favela, who got into the field by winning a pre-tournament qualifier.
Kuchar, a notorious jokster on Tour, said earlier in the week that El Tucan would be his lucky charm because the Georgia Tech product loves to make birdies. And he did so, racking up 26 birdies for the week, which tied for tops in the field.
“He was definitely my lucky charm,” Kuchar said after putting the finishing touches on a 2-under par final round that gave him a one-stroke victory. “He brought me good luck and certainly some extra crowd support and did a great job as well. He did just what I was hoping for and looking for.”
“I’m so happy, full of emotion,” the 40-year-old El Tucan told reporters, according to TheCaddieNetwork.com. “We were very solid to achieve our objective. We went step by step, getting more birdies.”
The victory earned Kuchar $1.23 million winner’s check, raising the human ATM’s on-course career earnings to just over $45 million despite having only eight Tour victories. While the check is undoubtedly nice for Kuchar, the caddie’s cut means much more.
El Tucan is in line to take 10% of that winning purse, according to normal caddie-player protocol of 5-7-10 (5 percent of a check for a made cut, 7 percent for a top-10 finish and 10 percent for a win). However, arrangements are handled entirely on a case-by-case basis and with a one-week partnership, there may be some slight variations.
“I think he’s flying; I think he’s en route to Australia,” Kuchar said when asked if he had heard from his normal looper in the aftermath of the victory. “I’m sure John’s disappointed not to have worked this week. He’s a great caddie. John does a fantastic job. I look forward to getting back with him next week. I’m excited for El Tucan, sorry for John.”
TheCaddieNetwork.com reported that El Tucan was in line to receive “somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 million pesos,” which is the equivalent of just under $100,000.
That big payday isn’t going to tempt El Tucan to change his day job, however. The father of two said he plans to invest some of the money he earned on Kuchar’s bag into a business.