How Matt Kuchar’s fill-in caddie’s life has changed since he received his controversial payment

November 10, 2019

This week marks one year since the start of one of the game’s biggest controversies: Matt Kuchar’s payment arrangement with fill-in caddie David Giral “El Tucan” Ortiz.

In case you need a refresher: Kuchar hired El Tucan, one of the local caddies at El Camaleon Golf Club (the annual host of the PGA Tour’s Mayakoba Golf Classic), to be his looper for the week when his regular caddie couldn’t make the trip.

El Tucan and Kuchar enjoyed a fairytale week together, with Kuchar notching his first Tour win in over four years, and earning a winner’s check of over $1.3 million.

That’s where things got sticky. Regular Tour caddies usually expect a 10 percent payout when their player wins a tournament, but Kuchar only paid Tucan $5,000 — a number they had agreed upon before the tournament even began. But Tucan understandably expected a bonus after helping shepherd Kuchar to victory, and it wasn’t until the story came to light in early 2019 that Kuchar — under enormous public pressure — offered an additional $45,000 to Tucan, and the two made peace.

Now, one year later, the New York Post’s Mark Cannizzaro caught up with Tucan to see how he’s fared in the controversy’s aftermath, and as it turns out, the additional payment from Kuchar was massively helpful to Tucan.

“Fifty thousand dollars, for me, is big,’’ Ortiz told the Post. “It’s everything to me and not too much to [Kuchar]. The $50,000 I needed for my business and to fix my kitchen and bathroom at home and to buy a new cell phone.’’

Tucan also bought a used BMW.

“Kuchar is a good person,’’ Ortiz continued. “I’m not angry. Everything is good. Not paying was not good. But I have no anger.’’

According to the Post’s story, Tucan toyed with the idea of using some of his windfall to open a laundromat (the name “Kuchar Laundry” was allegedly considered), but worried his newfound celebrity might cause him to be subjected to inflated labor prices, so the plans never came to fruition.

But regardless of his side business prospects, Tucan has continued to ply his trade a job he loves and where he continues to be in high demand.

“Even if he wouldn’t have gotten that money, he still would have been perfect, because all of that fame he got and now everybody is looking for him,’’ El Camaleon director of golf David Lopez told the Post. “People come here to play and they say, ‘Send me El Tucan.’ He’s gotten a big advantage out of the whole situation. It’s crazy how big it got.’’

To receive GOLF’s all-new newsletters, subscribe for free here.