Justin Thomas earned his 13th career victory on Sunday, but it was Jim “Bones” Mackay who had the pinch-hit home run.
Mackay, the longtime caddie for Phil Mickelson turned NBC on-course analyst, picked up Thomas’ bag last minute for the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. Thomas’ regular caddie, Jimmy Johnson, is undergoing some tests to determine what caused his lightheadedness at the Memorial weeks ago. In the meantime, Bones has stepped in to caddie for Thomas this week as well as next week’s PGA Championship.
They’re off to a fantastic start.
“He did what a lot of great caddies do and they let the player do it,” said Thomas, who closed with a 65 to win by three. “There’s a reason why they’re the best and he did an unbelievable job this week, especially for being in that situation, which we had never been in that together. You know, every player and caddie handles it differently. Jimmy’s the best at that for me and with me, but I unfortunately didn’t have him here with me today. I was thinking about him out there. I’m hoping he’s doing better, but, you know, Bones did a great job and I was very lucky that he has been there a lot more than I have, so he handled the situation well.
Thomas said Johnson called him early Tuesday afternoon and said he’d need a fill-in for the next couple of weeks. Thomas said he immediately thought of Bones, although briefly considered his dad, who is also his coach.
“I love my dad to death, but he probably wouldn’t have made it four days out here in this heat,” Thomas said.
It worked out with Bones, and Sunday was even a homecoming of sorts — Thomas was paired with Mickelson. Ironically, it was at the 1992 Memphis Open where Mickelson and Bones first worked together, and Memphis was also their last event together before they split in 2017.
“Honestly was 50/50 on thinking if it would work out with this short notice,” Thomas said. “I mean, the tournament started in a day and a half, two days, and I was very lucky. But I want someone that I know and at least knows my game somewhat. Bones knows my game well enough not only from when he caddied for Phil, but just watching me play a lot of rounds when he’s commentating to where if I do ask him a question, you know, he’s not just saying something to make me happy, he actually has input and feels like he knows enough about my game to where he can contribute and be a help, and he was.”