'Bones' serves as assistant at BCS title game

Phil Mickelson and caddie Jim Mackay during a practice round at St. Andrews.

Phil Mickelson and caddie Jim Mackay during a practice round at St. Andrews.

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GLENDALE, Ariz. – Jim “Bones” Mackay is best known to sports fans as the caddie who has been at Phil Mickelson’s side as he won four majors and became one of the biggest names in golf.

Mackay served as a caddie at an entirely different sporting event Monday night – the college football championship between Auburn and Oregon.

Mackay worked the sidelines as an assistant to Sports Illustrated photographer Robert Beck, lugging the award-winning lensman’s equipment around the sidelines during No. 1 Auburn’s thrilling 22-19 victory.

The pair struck up a relationship over the years as the golf photographer captured Mickelson’s memorable moments. Mackay lives in Phoenix, so it was easy to connect with Beck at the title game and serve as what he called a “camera caddie.”

Mackay said the scene was much more raucous than a Sunday at a major, even with Mickelson’s boisterous galleries.

“It was a blast to be so close,” said Mackay, who grew up in Georgia and is no stranger to big-time college football. “It was a very passionate atmosphere.”

There were plenty of similarities between the camera and golf job: Carrying around equipment for a top professional, emerging from the event with grass stains on his knees and having an up-front seat to a major sporting event.

Mackay even donned a yellow vest to designate his role as a photo worker – similar to the attire of caddies at PGA events.

He said he was “really bad” at his new gig in the first half before finding a groove. When asked what changed, he responded: “I learned to take the lens cap off.”

Mackay said he and Mickelson are excited for the upcoming PGA season as they look to pick up their fourth Masters title. Mickelson starts his season at the Abu Dhabi Championship this month.

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