PLAYA DEL CARMEN, MEXICO — John Wood is sure to receive some good-natured ribbing in the coming days.
Wood, Matt Kuchar’s long-time caddie, had scheduled a reunion this week and couldn’t make it to Mexico for the Mayakoba Golf Classic after Kuchar entered into the event at the last minute. It’s not the most critical event on the PGA Tour calendar, so it didn’t seem like a big deal when Kuchar decided to replace Wood with a local caddie.
Enter the legend of said local caddie David Giral Ortiz, better known as “El Tucan.”
El Tucan, the El Camaleon Golf Course caddie coordinator who lives in Playa Del Carmen, got hooked up with Kuchar when tournament director Joe Mazzeo recommended that the two would be a good match. It’s important to note that this came two weeks after El Tucan caddied for Mexican player Armando Favela in a qualifier to get into the tournament — Favela won that qualifier in a playoff and then tied for 16th in the Mayakoba Golf Classic, the best finish of his PGA Tour career. Adding to El Tucan’s legend is that he caddied in the tournament last year for journeyman Alex Cejka and they finished tied for ninth.
Kuchar received some great luck from El Tucan as well. Despite having not won in 89 starts spanning over four years, Kuchar opened with two 7-under 64s and grinded his way to a victory on Sunday. The winner receives just south of $1.3 million, meaning that El Tucan will soon be cashing a very healthy check of his own — somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 million pesos for his work.
“I’m so happy, full of emotion,” the 40-year-old El Tucan said in Spanish. “We were very solid to achieve our objective. We went step by step, getting more birdies.”
There are some questions to be answered here. For one, how did El Tucan get his nickname?
It turns out it has nothing to do with golf at all. The caddie loves to dance and El Tucan is a reference to that. There is a popular band in the country called the Los Tucanes de Tijuana, and this local caddie is a huge fan of their music and all dancing music in general.
He will certainly be doing some dancing tonight. At the beginning of the week when El Tucan told Kuchar of his nickname, Kuchar said that he would be his good luck charm for the week because he loves to make birdies.
Kuchar went out and made 26 of them, tied for the most in the field.
“He was definitely my lucky charm,” Kuchar said. “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.”
El Tucan speaks very little English but was able to communicate with Kuchar enough to feel comfortable and get all of the pertinent information across for each shot. There were no elaborate pre-shot discussions or pep talks, something that Kuchar admitted was a nice change of pace for the week.
Will El Tucan take his apparent caddie talents to the PGA Tour now? Although he said he is happy to take calls, it may not be feasible. He has two kids, a 5-year-old son and a 2-year-old daughter, and he isn’t going to be moving from his home town anytime soon. However, he did say that he wants to invest the money he earned into a business. He may be able to start his own caddie academy with the track record he is putting together.
Regardless, all of those pesos are a nice bonus.