Just like the old days for Bones
Jim 'Bones' Mackay makes a brief return to the bag at the Sony Open
January 10, 2018
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
- Jim 'Bones' Mackay returns to the fairways of Waialae Country Club this week for the first time since 1992. (Sam Davis/PGA TOUR)
HONOLULU – Jim “Bones” Mackay last caddied at Waialae Country Club before Justin Thomas was born, but he was transported back in time Tuesday when he picked up the bag for the FedExCup champion.
The former long-time looper for Phil Mickelson last pounded these fairways in 1992 and has had over six months off since ending his 25-year run with the World Golf Hall of Famer.
But the more things change – the more they stay the same.
Out for a one-off week with Thomas while his regular caddie Jimmy Johnson recovers from plantar fasciitis, Mackay couldn’t help but smile as he watched over a highly-charged, friendly match involving Thomas and Tom Lovelady against Jordan Spieth and Smylie Kaufman.
Mickelson has always been famous for his pre-tournament competitive rounds against fellow TOUR pros with a spattering of trash talk always on the menu.
On Tuesday at Waialae the new breed was continuing the traditions.
“It was nice. It was fun to feel the weight of the bag on your shoulder and even better to be part of a competitive match with a lot of talk involved,” Mackay said.
“It’s always fun as a caddie being involved in something like that. There was a little trash talking on a few putts and I really was lucky for 25 years with Phil to have those kinds of Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so to have that out here today just made it so much more fun.”Mackay said he's almost treating this week as an opportunity to do some research. (Sam Davis/PGA TOUR)
While certainly a fun match, it also was serious business. When Spieth’s drive on Waialae’s par-5 9th – the last hole of their match – skipped through a bunker, the other players couldn’t help but shake their heads.
“Of course, for the golden child,” one remarked cheekily.
When his approach shot pulled left and appeared dead, Thomas and Lovelady had the advantage.
But Spieth noticed his ball came to rest in ground under repair and campaigned for multiple free drops thanks to grandstand and cart path issues. Thomas acquiesced somewhat begrudgingly and Spieth knocked his third to inside 15 feet.
Amazingly, he lipped out the putt and Thomas and Lovelady survived.
Not content with the competition being over, the foursome began trying to throw golf balls from the edge of the green towards the cup. Such is the competitive nature bred into the young stars.
Mackay couldn’t help but smile thinking of the countless players Mickelson had tried to take down over the years in similar circumstances.
But while it was certainly nostalgic, Mackay has no plans to make a habit of caddying again.
He has become a successful on-course reporter for Golf Channel and NBC since parting with Mickelson in June last year and already provides a unique perspective of the players having spent so long inside the ropes.
“It is almost like doing some really close-up research in a sense,” he said of this week. “As we all know, Justin is such an incredibly likeable person and it’s going to be fun to be around him and watch him play from a few feet away.
“All of these young guys that are at the top of the game on the PGA TOUR, they are just incredible players and it is a joy to watch.
“This week, I just want to go out there and stay out of Justin’s way.”