What Jim ‘Bones’ Mackay told Justin Thomas in inspirational PGA range ‘talk’

Jim Mackay, Justin Thomas

Caddie Jim "Bones" Mackay and Justin Thomas last Sunday after Thomas' victory at the PGA Championship.

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Justin Thomas wanted a solution. And his caddie gave him one. 

“There’s nothing,” Jim “Bones” Mackay remembers saying, “to sit out here and fix.”

It’s a few days later now, and Mackay is sharing the moment’s details in an interview with the Caddie Network, though he says any caddie would have responded as he had last Saturday night on the range at Southern Hills. And maybe he’s right. But Thomas said he wouldn’t have won the PGA Championship without what went down, so maybe there’s also some modesty mixed in. 

To set the scene, Thomas had just signed for a third-round 74, and he’d start the fourth seven shots out of the lead. He wasn’t exactly out of it; he wasn’t exactly in it. But he was frustrated fully, so Team Thomas went to the range. 

And Mackay and Thomas had, what we can now call, “The Talk.” 

The 74 wasn’t great. 

But you’re good. 

Let’s leave. 

“As all these caddies out here know, the thing for us is we don’t have to hit the shots,” Mackay said in the Caddie Network interview. “And we certainly aren’t taking the pressure home that these guys are; they’re trying to win the tournament. So it’s easy for me, in that kind of context, to see something in maybe a slightly different light than Justin was. 

“Justin, you know, if he’s frustrated that he shot a few over on Saturday, you know, for as well as he played, it certainly wasn’t a score you want on moving day at a major. But you know, any caddie would have done what I did, which is say, hey, man, the great thing is, you’re playing well. You know, typically the way you played today would have been 70, 71, whatever, but, you know, it adds up to 74, and there you go. But the great thing is, when you drive out of here, you know you’re playing well and your game is trending in the right direction; there’s nothing to sit out here and fix. 

Justin Thomas won his second career major championship in a three-hole playoff at Southern Hills.
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“Again, it’s easy for me to say it, because, again, I’m carrying the bag and getting the dirt out of the grooves and telling him he’s got 178 and all that stuff, but in those moments, when those guys have so much pressure on yourself, hopefully we’re in a position to say something that will hopefully make life a little easier for those guys.”

“A little easier,” of course, is akin to calling the PGA a tournament or Southern Hills a golf course. They’re more than that, and the talk was immeasurable to Thomas, who shot a 67 on Sunday, made up the deficit and won his second Wanamaker. 

While Thomas has already revealed his side of “The Talk” — he dished on it on Sunday after his victory — we’ll share it again, if only to confirm its value.  

“I’m fully confident in saying that I wouldn’t be standing here if he didn’t give me that — wasn’t necessarily a speech, but a talk, if you will,” Thomas said. “I just needed to let some steam out. I didn’t need to bring my frustration and anger home with me. I didn’t need to leave the golf course in a negative frame of mind. I just went down — I played pretty well yesterday for shooting four-over, and I felt like I’d played terrible. And he was just like, dude, you’ve got to stop being so hard on yourself. You’re in contention every single week we’re playing.

Justin thomas and jim bones mackay
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“I’ve had a lot of chances to win tournaments, and it’s a hard golf course; it’s a major championship. You don’t have to be perfect. Just don’t be hard on yourself. Just kind of let stuff happen, and everything is trending in the right direction. So just keep staying positive so that good stuff can happen.

“I left here in an awesome frame of mind. It was very — I think the last player here, it was like this out right now, it was so peaceful. It was almost kind of eerie how beautiful it was outside, and there’s not very many times after shooting four-over on Saturday of a major I left in as good a frame of mind as I have.”

Justin Thomas wanted a solution. And his caddie gave him one. 

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Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.

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