Together for 25 years and more than 600 golf tournaments, Phil Mickelson and caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay are moving on.
In a surprising email just two days after the U.S. Open that Mickelson didn’t play, they said the decision to part ways was mutual and not based on any one incident.
“We just feel it’s the right time for a change,” Mickelson said.
They were apart the last time they were together. Mickelson was home in California to attend his daughter’s high school graduation, while Mackay was at Erin Hills in Wisconsin taking notes and scouting the course just in case a weather delay would have allowed Mickelson to make his tee time.
“Player-caddie relationships don’t often last that long,” Mackay said.
“I will always be grateful that I was around to witness so much of Phil’s career.”
Mackay previously caddied for Larry Mize and Scott Simpson when he was hired in 1992 to work for Mickelson, who had won a PGA Tour event while at Arizona State. Their first event was a U.S. Open qualifier, and Mickelson shot rounds of 69-63.
They were together for 45 victories worldwide, including five majors, and every Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup team since 1994.
“When Phil hired me in 1992, I had one dream: to caddie in a Ryder Cup,” Mackay said. “Last year, at Hazeltine, Phil played in his 11th straight Ryder Cup. It was so cool to have a front row seat. I wish Phil nothing but the best. His game is still at an elite level, and when he wins in the future (definitely the Masters), I will be among the first to congratulate him.”
Mackay is not retiring as a caddie, though he had no immediate plans. He is coming off double knee replacement surgery during the last offseason.
Mickelson said his brother, Tim Mickelson, would caddie for him the rest of the year.
Tim Mickelson is the agent for Jon Rahm, and he filled in for his older brother during the Mexico Championship when Mackay went down with a stomach virus.Rare was the occasion when Mickelson was playing a tournament with someone other than Mackay on his bag.
Mackay also was there for some of Mickelson’s unpredictable decisions, such as trying to hit out of the rough, under a tree and over the water at Bay Hill, or trying to play a fairway metal out of the rough at a major.
Woods in rehab
Tiger Woods has checked into a clinic to get help for dealing with pain medication, and his agent is not sure how long he will be there.
Mark Steinberg of Excel Sports Management says he could not disclose the location of the in-patient treatment Woods is receiving, or how long the golfer would be there. Woods said Monday night that he is receiving professional help to manage his medications and how he deals with pain and a sleep disorder.
Steinberg says Woods’ May 29 arrest in Jupiter, Florida, on a DUI charge shook him up. He says he’s proud of Woods for seeking help, and that the objective is all about a healthy lifestyle more than playing golf again.
The PGA Tour is beefing up its anti-doping policy by adding blood testing and bringing its list of banned substances in line with the World Anti-Doping Association.
The revised policy takes effect in October, at the start of next season.
Blood testing will allow the tour to detect any use of human growth hormone, which is on the list of banned substances but cannot be detected through urine. However, the tour still plans to use urine samples for the majority of its drug testing next season.
“Urine is the far more efficient testing method of 98 percent-plus of what we’re looking for,” said Andy Levinson, the tour’s senior vice president of tournament administration, who oversees the anti-doping policy. “Really, one of the few things only detectable in blood is HGH.”
Levinson said blood testing also detects substances that are common in more high-endurance sports, such as cycling, but that the tour doesn’t see them as applicable to a sport like golf.
Site: Cromwell, Conn.
Course: TPC River Highlands. Yardage: 6,820. Par: 70.
Purse: $6.8 million (First place: $1,224,000).
TV: Thursday-Friday, 3:30-6:30 p.m. (GC). Saturday-Sunday, 1-2:30 p.m. (GC); 3-6 p.m. (CBS).
Defending champ: Russell Knox
Walmart NW Arkansas Championship
Site: Rogers, Ark.
Course: Pinnacle CC. Yardage: 6,386. Par: 71.
Purse: $2 million (First prize: $300,000).
TV: Friday, 6:30-8:30 p.m. (GC); Saturday-Sunday, 5-7 p.m. (GC).
Defending champ: Lydia Ko
PGA Tour Champions
American Family Insurance Championship
Site: Madison, Wis.
Course: University Ridge GC. Yardage: 7,056. Par: 72.
Purse: $2 million (First prize: $300,000).
TV: Friday, 12:30-3 p.m. (GC); Saturday-Sunday, 3-5 p.m. (GC).
Defending champion: Kirk Triplett.