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Big Play Long considered a yes-man, caddie Jim MacKay talked Phil Mickelson into making the sensible play at a critical moment in Hartford

July 01, 2002
July 01, 2002

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July 1, 2002

Big Play Long considered a yes-man, caddie Jim MacKay talked Phil Mickelson into making the sensible play at a critical moment in Hartford

Phil Mickelson's longtime caddie, Jim (Bones) MacKay, has taken
a lot of flack for idly standing by while his hyperaggressive
boss has imploded because of reckless shotmaking down the
stretch. Bones seems to have heeded the criticism, because
during the final round of the Greater Hartford Open he was a
forceful presence who refused to allow his boss to blast himself
into oblivion.

This is an article from the July 1, 2002 issue

NO BONES ABOUT IT Mickelson was tied for the lead at 12 under
par when he ripped a drive down the fairway on the par-5 13th
hole, leaving him 240 yards to a pin that was tucked nine yards
from the edge of a pond. Mickelson pulled out a three-iron and
wanted to go for broke (above, left). Bones urged him to play a
safer shot short of the green (above, right). In the end
Mickelson took Bones's advice, laying up and then chipping to
gimme distance for the birdie that pushed him into the lead.
Below is a transcript of the heated two-minute, 42-second
discussion on which the tournament turned.

JIM MACKAY: (as Mickelson pulls out the three-iron) If there was
no wind I would still think that three-iron is a marginal carry.
But we've definitely got some wind. You can feel it now. If we
hit three-iron, we've got to go at that second [TV] tower on the
right.

PHIL MICKELSON: You're not thinking three-wood, are you?

JM: No, I'm thinking about hitting a three-iron up the right
side, trying to land on the very righthand part of the green.

PM: How about if I were to go between the pin and the TV tower,
over the reeds?

JM: It's still going to be almost as much of a carry as if you
went at the flag. (Mickelson, waggling the three-iron, clenches
his teeth.)

PM: You're basically saying to [lay up] into a four-yard area.

JM: Well, then we can play right of the green and get up and
down.

PM: (defiantly) I got to think this is enough. It's warm. If I
bust a draw, turn it over....

JM: (interrupting) We've got a 10-mile wind straight into us. If
we had the two-iron in the bag, it would be a good two. But we
just have the three. You can hit that just right of the green.
That'll be perfect.
(Mickelson addresses the ball and then backs off.)

PM: I don't like that play because I feel like I'm trying to draw
it into a four-yard area that's pulling it to the right. If I'm
not going to go at the green, let me just not go at the green and
use the slope. Otherwise let me take three-wood. I think
three-iron is enough to go right at it.

JM: Just go to the right.

PM: (staring blankly at the green) O.K.

WORTH EVERY PENNY Pros often gripe about how much they pay their
caddies, but Bones's gutsy stand justified his hefty fee.
Mickelson got $720,000 for the victory, while joint runners-up
Jonathan Kaye and Davis Love III each received $352,000. Even
after giving Bones the customary 10%, Mickelson came out ahead.

Bryan Gathright, 43, teaches at Oak Hills Country Club in San
Antonio and is one of Golf Magazine's Top 100 teachers.

COLOR PHOTO: COLOR PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPH BY JAMIE SQUIRE/GETTY IMAGES INSIDE COVER PEOPLE'S Choice Fan Fave Phil Mickelson Rules in HartfordTWO COLOR PHOTOS: COURTESY OF ABCCOLOR PHOTO: JAMIE SQUIRE/GETTY IMAGES TOP TEAM Faldo has total faith in Sunesson's precise yardages.

THE TIP

No matter if you are on Tour or playing in the club
championship, hiring a caddie deserves careful attention.
Smarts, experience and a compatible personality are the vital
ingredients. Here are my top five alltime player-caddie teams
and the qualities that you should look for in a looper.

1. Nick Faldo-Fanny Sunesson: Ms. Meticulous, Fanny walks the
course and draws her own yardage book every week.

2. Lee Trevino-Herman Mitchell: Like his boss, Herman is jocular
and outgoing, which keeps things loose on and off the course.

3. Tiger Woods-Steve Williams: Exuding just as much confidence as
Tiger, Steve walks like a Marine and looks like he's dying to
kick some butt.

4. Ben Crenshaw-Carl Jackson: A full-time looper at Augusta
National, Carl used his local knowledge to help Crenshaw win two
green jackets.

5. Mike Weir-Brendan Little: No duo on Tour has a deeper mutual
passion than these Canadians have for hockey.