Phil Mickelson is probably really glad at the moment he’s not an only child.
The left-hander, 46, started strong Thursday at the WGC-Mexico Championship, firing a 4-under 67 to open in a tie for the lead. But he was hit with a curveball on Day Two, or more precisely his caddie was.
Long-time Mickelson looper Jim “Bones” Mackay, who had double knee replacement surgery last October, came down with a stomach issue at some point and was really hurting to start the second round.
Mackay tried to tough it out but couldn’t as he left the bag after his boss hit his tee shot on the par-3 13th (Mickelson’s fourth hole of the day) in order to deal with his illness.
That’s too bad, especially so considering it continues a trend of those at the WGC-Mexico dealing with stomach problems. Rory McIlroy has been dealing with a stomach virus and so was Henrik Stenson, who withdrew in the middle of the first round because of his illness.
But back to Mackay. It’s really too bad, but the secondary concern is, who was going to be Phil Mickelson’s caddie? The good news is that there’s no worry on that front: Phil’s younger brother of seven years, Tim Mickelson, stepped in!
Here’s the footage of little bro taking over Lefty’s bag.
Also worth noting how rare it has been for Mackay not to be carrying Mickelson’s bag over the last two decades.
We’ll also note that Mickelson was without Mackay for the 1999 WGC-American Express Championship, played at Valderrama in Spain. That was the last time, Mackay wasn’t on Mickelson’s bag. Wow.
Anyway, it’s now a family affair in Mexico! If you’re wondering about Tim Mickelson’s credentials, no need to worry.
The younger Mickelson previously served as Arizona State’s men’s golf coach before leaving last summer to become an agent for Lagardere Sports. Mickelson currently represents Jon Rahm, who he would have been out following on this day and previously coached to college superstardom at Arizona State.
How’s it going so far? In those 15 holes with younger brother Tim carrying his clubs, Phil was 2 under in finishing off a tidy 3-under 68 to find himself three off the lead at 7 under.
That’s pretty solid for a last-minute replacement caddie. But we need to get the report directly from his boss.
And thanks to the post-round TV interview, that we did. Phil Mickelson chatted with Steve Sands after the round and offered his thoughts on his brother’s performance.
Lefty called his brother a quality person (a great softener before getting into the nitty gritty) and then gave his analysis.
“My brother understands how to play the game at a high level and how to shoot low scores, when to go for it, when not to,” Phil Mickelson said. “As a college golf coach for many years, he also understands smart strategy, strategic play and smart plays.”
The elder Mickelson added that this course may have been the perfect place for him to have to sub in a caddie mid-round.
“For the most part, these greens are greens I’m going to read on my own. Also the irons you really have to feel to get a sense for it,” Mickelson said. “So you can’t say ‘I like an 8- or I like a 9-‘ because it can go such a different yardage. It’s based on how you feel, how hard you’re going to hit it, all of those nuances. Of all places to have it happen, this is probably the easiest to transition.”
Mickelson then gave his sidelined looper some love.
“Bones is invaluable, he’s so good at what he does,” Mickelson said.
As for how Tim Mickelson felt about his performance, he had a good time but, per Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard, he knows this is a short gig.
“I’m pretty sure I’ve already been fired,” Tim Mickelson cracked.