The Matt Kuchar-El Tucan payment saga took another twist on Monday when the El Camaleon Golf Club local caddie who was on the bag for Kuchar’s first victory in four years spoke to Golf.com’s Michael Bamberger.
Expressing frustration and confusion, David Giral Ortiz, who is known as “El Tucan,” confirmed to Bamberger in a phone interview that he had received a total of $5,000 from Kuchar for his week’s work at the Mayakoba Golf Classic, but no significant bonus as he was promised based upon a pre-tournament agreement.
“Matt is a good person and a great player,” Ortiz said through a translator. “He treated me very well. I am only disappointed by how it all finished.”
The story gained traction thanks to PGA Tour Champions player Tom Gillis bringing it to light on social media on Jan. 12th.
I’m sure the guy never helped him but when u win 1.3 and give a guy 3k and u made 45 million in your career and you could change his life??? https://t.co/EeJa3hXwzB
— Tom Gillis (@tcgillis) January 12, 2019
Ortiz sent three emails to Kuchar’s agent, Mark Steinberg, between Jan. 24 and Feb. 5 requesting a “fair amount for (his) help” in Kuchar’s victory.
“I am a humble man, who takes care of his family, and works hard,” El Tucan wrote on Jan. 24. “I am reaching out to you to see if you can facilitate me receiving a fair amount for my help with Matt winning $1,296,000. I am not looking to disparage Matt or give him a bad name. Fair is fair, and I feel like I was taken advantage of by placing my trust in Matt.”
Early this week Matt Kuchar hired a local caddie.
His nickname is “El Tucan.”
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) November 11, 2018
Ortiz said that he didn’t expect the standard 10% that regular Tour caddies typically receive for a victory, but that he believed $50,000 was a fair amount given the help he provided Kuchar. The agreed-upon wage of $3,000 plus a bonus dependent upon results was too low in his estimation.
“Maybe I will (receive the additional $45,000),” Ortiz said, before admitting that outcome was unlikely.
At the conclusion of Sunday’s media responsibilities, Kuchar gave Ortiz an envelope of $100s, $50s, $20s and $5s that totaled $5,000.
Steinberg responded to one of Ortiz’s emails and said, “I am out of the country. What Matt has offered is fair.”
When subsequently offered an additional and final $15,000 payment, Ortiz, when asked about it, said, “No thank you. They can keep their money.”
Immediately following the conclusion of the tournament, Ortiz said he’d gladly caddie for Kuchar during his title defense later this year, but in light of the recent payment issue, he’s reversed course.
“No thank you,” he said. “I’m a little bit pissed, a little bit confused.”
Ortiz said with a more substantial payment, he and his wife had planned to open a laundromat, but with only receiving $5,000, he spent most of his earnings on painting his home, new curtains, a mirror and flying his daughter home from Veracruz for Christmas.
The notoriety has led to more loops at the course, where a good day’s work nets him around $200.