Paul Mickelson and Jim “Bones” Mackay announced an amicable split after 25 years together, effectively ending one of golf’s most iconic partnerships.
The pair had been one of the most successful player-caddie partnerships in world golf since getting together in 1992 when Mickelson offered Bones—the name Fred Couples had given Mackay after forgetting what the nobbly-kneed man was actually called—the chance to be his bagman.
It was a decision neither looked back on. The pair recorded 41 professional victories together including five majors—Mickelson triumphed in three US Masters in 2004, 2006 and 2010, the US PGA Championship in 2005 and the Open Championship 2013.
It was perhaps ironic that the working relationship between Mickelson and Bones came to an end when the former world number one skipped the 2017 US Open at Erin Hills to attend his daughter’s graduation from high school. After all, the second major of the year was the one to evade the pair as Mickelson ended runner-up on six separate occasions.
“After 25 very rewarding and memorable years, Bones and I have mutually decided to end our player-caddie relationship,” Mickelson said in a statement. “Our decision is not based on a single incident. We just feel it’s the right time for a change.
“My relationship and history with Bones far exceeds golf,” added Mickelson, whose wife Amy introduced Bones to her best friend Jen—who would later become his wife.
“Amy and I, and our children, will always think of Bones, Jen, Oliver and Emma as family. We are looking forward to sharing life and friendship with them forever.”
In his own statement, Mackay added: “After an amazing 25-year run, Phil and I have mutually decided to go our separate ways. Player-caddie relationships don’t often last that long. I will always be grateful that I was around to witness so much of Phil’s career.
“When Phil hired me in 1992, I had one dream: to caddie in a Ryder Cup. Last year, at Hazeltine, Phil played in his 11th straight Ryder Cup. It was so cool to have a front-row seat. I wish Phil nothing but the best. His game is still at an elite level, and when he wins in the future (definitely the Masters), I will be among the first to congratulate him.”
The first victory of Mickelson’s career came in the Northern Telecom Open in 1991 as an amateur before Bones became his caddy. Success flowed repeatedly afterward, but the now 47-year-old Mickelson has not won on the TOUR since his triumph in the 2013 Open Championship at Muirfield.
Bones’ role will be taken over by Mickelson’s younger brother Tim for the remainder of the 2017 season. The younger Mickelson had previously stepped in for an ill Mackay during one round of the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship earlier this season.
Tim Mickelson is a golf coach at Arizona State University, the same place Phil graduated from before going into the professional game.