ORLANDO – It can be hard to measure a caddie’s role in victory. Some simply carry the bag, while others seem to perform an endless array of duties just short of hitting the shot. For Kurt Kitayama, who won his first PGA Tour title at the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Sunday, veteran looper Tim Tucker was the calming influence when Kitayama needed him most.
But let’s first rewind to last month, at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, where Kitayama said he fumed inside. In the final round at Pebble Beach Golf Links, his caddie at the time, Bryan Martin, misclubbed him on the second hole and his shot airmailed the green, leading to a double bogey. He subsequently tumbled 27 spots on payday after shooting 76 (T-29). Another legitimate shot at winning for the first time fell by the wayside.
“That one was very disappointing,” Kitayama said in his winner’s press conference on Sunday. “I felt like I was comfortable enough in that situation and that things just didn’t go my way early and I was more probably mad than anything. It just happens. Just try not to think about it too much.”
Did Kitayama punch a wall or kick his golf bag? He laughed at the thought. “Like, internally, you kind of, you’re fuming,” Kitayama said.
Arnold Palmer Invitational: Winner’s bag | Prize money
But Kitayama did make one drastic decision while he was fuming. He fired Martin, his caddie of four years.
When asked to confirm the reason for the dismissal, Kitayama didn’t want to throw someone he still counts as a friend under the bus, but he didn’t refute the story either. “I just felt like it was time, a couple of bad things had happened and tough situations I feel like,” Kitayama said in explaining his caddie change. “We had a really good run.”
Seeking a replacement, Kitayama reached out to his brother, a longtime caddie at Bandon Dunes in Oregon, who had built a relationship with Tucker. Best known in golf circles as Bryson DeChambeau’s bagman for eight Tour victories, including the 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot and the 2021 Arnold Palmer Invitational, Tucker has caddied at Bandon and runs a transportation business at the golf resort.
“They have always stayed in contact, and this was just an opportunity that happened to arise,” Kitayama said.
After parting ways with his caddie at Pebble, Kitayama played the following week at the WM Phoenix Open and Tucker happened to be there for some work associated with the ballmarker he has designed and…
Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at Golfweek…