A familiar face will be walking the PGA Tour fairways with a bag on his shoulder next week.
Jim “Bones” Mackay, who was on the bag for all five of Phil Mickelson’s major championship victories, will loop for England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick for the Tour’s two stops at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio – the Workday Charity Open and the Memorial Tournament.
It’s important to note that Mackay’s return is temporary.
Fitzpatrick’s regular caddie is Billy Foster. As we reported on The Caddie Network back on May 28, Foster was opting to delay his return to the PGA Tour until at least this month due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the mandatory 14-day quarantine that would have been awaiting him in the U.S.
“The quarantine issue is the big thing for me,” Foster, who lives in England, told our Garrett Johnston at the time. “The thing is, if I come over (to the U.S.) I’ll probably have to stay for a while. So now, I’d probably come over in July and stay until September. With the quarantine two weeks both ways (in U.S. and the U.K.) it makes it difficult to go backwards and forwards.”
Foster – who spent many years alongside both Seve Ballesteros and Lee Westwood – also cited insurance and visa issues as reasons for his decision.
The plan now, Golf Digest reports, is for Foster to rejoin Fitzpatrick for the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational July 30-August 2 in Memphis.
But back to Mackay. How did that come to be? It all started with a text from a phone number Fitzpatrick didn’t recognize, he told Golf Digest.
“The message said it was Bones, and he heard through the grapevine that I was in the market for a fill-in caddie,” said Fitzpatrick, playing in his first full season on the PGA Tour. “I told him I was honored that he was even reaching out.”
Fitzpatrick had fill-in caddie Cayce Kerr at both the Charles Schwab Challenge (T32) and the RBC Heritage (T14) before taking this week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic off.
When Foster takes the bag back in Memphis, Mackay will return to his role as an on-course analyst for NBC/Golf Channel.
Mackay spent more than 25 years with Mickelson before the pair mutually parted ways in 2017. Mackay, who was on the bag for all but three of Mickelson’s 44 career PGA Tour wins, had double knee replacement surgery in late 2016.
On June 20, 2017, the two officially went their separate ways.
Mackay did fill in as a caddie for one week with Justin Thomas at the 2018 Sony Open in Hawaii when regular bagman Jimmy Johnson had to sit out due to an injury.
Now – for two weeks, anyway – Mackay will take the bag of the 25-year-old Fitzpatrick, the 26th-ranked player in the world, a five-time winner on the European Tour and a member of the 2016 European Ryder Cup team.