JACKSON, Miss. – Former Jackson State golfer A.J. Montecinos has found success on the PGA Tour in recent years. That success has not come as a player, but rather a caddy. Last Sunday, Montecinos and Y. E. Yang shocked the world (of golf) when Yang defeated Tiger Woods for the 2009 PGA Championship.
The duo, which has been together for nearly two years, could not have come from any more seemingly different backgrounds have made things work to near perfection on the golf course. Montecinos, who is 35 years old, grew up in California and Yang, 37, is from South Korea.
Montecinos, who is Italian on his mother’s side and Spanish on his
father’s side, played his collegiate golf at JSU under head coach Eddie Payton from 1993-97, winning four straight SWAC titles.
Yang, who was in PGA Tour qualifying school nine months ago, spent about two years in the South Korean military (beginning at age 21) before going to New Zealand after his military duty to pursue a golf career.
And there is a bit of a language barrier. Yang speaks limited English.
“Our communication is fine. He understands more than people think,” Montecinos said.
Montecinos got into caddying through his collegiate teammate Tim O’Neal. Montecinos and O’Neal were members of the JSU men’s golf team that went on to become the first from a historically black university to play in the NCAA Championships in 1995.
“I got into it through Tim,” said Montecinos. “We were together for two years.” The relationship between a golfer and his caddie is one of the closest in sports. “Caddying is like a marriage. You have to know everything about that golfer. Like, what to say and not to say at the right time. Being a caddy, we also have to be able to calm the player down and get them pumped up at the right times. We have to know everything about the greens, the club the
player needs to use at that specific point and time. How far he can hit that specific club, and how the ball is rolling with the wind conditions, if any. A caddy basically makes the player’s job as easy as possible.”
To date, Yang has played in 19 tour events and has made more than $3.2 million. He has finished first on the PGA Tour two times in 2009 and ranks ninth in Money Leaders on the tour.