Champ looking to go back-to-back at Arnold Palmer

Caddy change continues to bring dividends

Kurt Kitamaya PGA tour
Kurt Kitayama win his first PGA tournament at the 57th annual Arnold Palmer Invitational. (Credit: @Kurt_kitayama instagram) 

BAY HILL, Fla. – Kurt Kitayama returns to this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, the site of his only PGA victory, with a new caddie and hopes of repeating.

He won last year’s competition by one stroke over Rory McIlroy and Harris English with a 9-under-par 279.

This comes after the hiring of Kitayama’s new caddie Tim Tucker, who replaced Bryan Martin.

“That was the biggest goal (of changing caddies) was to not have an up-and-down year. … I’m pretty happy with how I started,” he said. “In the past couple of years, I’ve had a slow start.”

Looking back on his mindset at last year’s tournament, “You know the course is playing really tough and staying patient all the way through the round.”

In 2018 he won the AfrAsia Open on the European tour in December, followed by the Oman Open in March 2019. In the past two years since joining the PGA, Kitayama has played in 71 events finishing in the top five seven times.  

Bryan Martin, his former caddie was let go last February after a disappointing finish at the AT&T Pebble Pro-Am. Kurt believed he was handed the wrong club resulting in a double bogey on the second hole. “I just felt like it was time, a couple of bad things had happened,” he told Yahoo Sports.  

Tucker, hired as his new caddie soon after, also has worked closely with Kitayama on other occasions in the past. Kitayama would be the first player since Matt Every in 2014-15 to win the Palmer tournament two years in a row.

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Posted: Mar 7 2024 9:51 pm
Filed under: Golf Sports