From bedroom brawls to the PGA TOUR for Ortiz brothers
April 27, 2022
By Kevin Prise , PGATOUR.COM
Get to know the Ortiz brothers
VIDANTA VALLARTA, Mexico – Competition lies at the heart of the Ortiz family dynamic.
Whether it’s sports, board games, video games or anything else, Carlos and Alvaro Ortiz – or their brother Alejandro and parents Chela and Carlos Sr. – want the edge.
The Carlos-Alvaro rivalry entails a particular zest.
“I’ve had many Nintendo controllers thrown at my head by him,” Carlos remarked of Alvaro. “Nintendo, FIFA, even the Tiger Woods game, the Formula 1 game right now … he used to break a controller per week, like, explode.”
“What can I say,” Alvaro admitted. “I’m fiery.”
The determination of Carlos and Alvaro has also propelled their golf careers. This week, they’re set to compete in the same PGA TOUR field at the Mexico Open at Vidanta, the event’s first playing as an official PGA TOUR event in its history dating back to 1944.
No number of broken controllers, though, could fracture the brothers’ bond.
Alvaro, five years Carlos’ junior, holds Korn Ferry Tour status for the first time this season by virtue of a fourth-place finish on the 2021 PGA TOUR Latinoamerica Order of Merit, which included a victory at the Mexico Open, contested at Estella del Mar.
Alvaro Ortiz’s 2021 Abierto Mexicano de Golf victory
He’s following the example of Carlos, now an accomplished TOUR pro and winner of the 2020 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open. Carlos earned Korn Ferry Tour membership for the first time in 2014 and thrived, winning three times to earn his first PGA TOUR card. The now-father of three returned to the Korn Ferry Tour in 2017, but he earned back his TOUR card in 2018 and has maintained a steady progression since.
The brothers learned the game at an early age – “I don’t have any memories without golf,” Carlos said – and were quickly enthralled.
“They’re similar in that they are both very competitive,” reflected mom Chela. “They knew from a very young age what they wanted to do. I remember, in elementary school, Carlos was like, ‘I’m going to be a professional golfer.’
“The problem with Carlos was that we didn’t know the path to college golf.”
During Carlos’ adolescence in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the progression of Mexican junior golfers to United States Division I golf was uncommon. The Ortiz family wasn’t as connected in the traditional circles of high-level junior golf; tips and tricks have been acquired and now shared with families of aspiring pro golfers across the country.
At the time, they weren’t clued in regarding the best tournaments to draw exposure to a promising young player. Early on, Division I options were limited, but Carlos drew the attention of University of North Texas coach Brad Stracke – then in his first few months on the job – late in the recruiting process. Stracke had caught wind of scores in the low- to mid 60s at a junior event in Mexico and correctly deemed that Carlos had the potential to play as a freshman.
“He didn’t have a lot of options, when it came his time to go to the States,” Chela remembered. “He had not played a lot in the United States, so there were not a lot of offers for him. So we went with the offer that we had, North Texas. It turned out pretty good.
“He was not the first Mexican to go to college golf, but he was the first of this era that started breaking the paradigm of becoming a professional golfer and going to Division I college golf.”
Once it became apparent that Alvaro was determined to follow in Carlos’ footsteps, the family had a roadmap. Alvaro played a robust schedule of high-level junior events across the United States – the family would take two-week trips at a time, integrating golf and sightseeing. He competed alongside the likes of Scottie Scheffler, Collin Morikawa and Viktor Hovland at junior events, and he received a variety of Division I offers, eventually selecting the University of Arkansas.
Carlos (left) and Alvaro (right) pose with their grandfather (middle). (Courtesy of Ortiz Family)
As Alvaro completed his high school career and headed to Arkansas as a freshman, Carlos was thriving as a Korn Ferry Tour rookie.
With the family unsure of the expenses needed to travel and compete on the Korn Ferry Tour, Carlos Sr. and Chela sold an investment condo, gaining a financial safety net in case the road was rocky.
Carlos quickly rewarded his family’s belief. He finished third in his first Korn Ferry Tour start as a member, the 2014 Astara Golf Championship, and he won three events later at The Panama Championship. He added victories at the El Bosque Mexico Championship and Regular Season-ending WinCo Foods Portland Open, and he was off to the PGA TOUR.
“It was a crazy season,” Alvaro remembers. “I was just signed for Arkansas and was getting ready for college … it was crazy how he played that season. I felt like every week, he had a chance to win. That really pushed me, going to college and trying to get better, trying to go out there as quick as I could.
“And I remember he won the third one, the first week I got to Arkansas. It was pretty special, getting there and him getting his promotion to the PGA TOUR.”
The brothers’ journeys have taken different timelines, but the bond endures, and they relish the occasions where paths cross. After Alvaro gained 2019 Masters entry via his victory at the Latin America Amateur Championship, Carlos caddied in the Par 3 Contest. (Alvaro proceeded to make the cut and finish T36.)
Their playful dynamic is readily apparent. They traded barbs at a Tuesday press conference ahead of this week’s Mexico Open, and when asked to pose for photos on the first tee box Wednesday, they quickly leapt onto an adjacent bleacher and put their arms around each other.
“We compete in anything, and I think that’s pushed us to be great,” Carlos said. “It’s always great when you have somebody to practice and share everything with. You work hard, and then when it’s your brother, it’s even better.
“Yesterday, we finished playing and we went to a gym together and took a 10-minute ice, and we were both shaking and giving each other (crap) in the ice. Those kinds of experiences, it’s great to share them with your brother. I think that’s one of the reasons we have success and always kept improving, because we push each other.”
They’ve helped push forward a country of aspiring young pros who aim to follow their path, as well.The Ortiz brothers share a close bond on and off the course. (Maria Aleman/PGA TOUR)