HONOLULU — The biggest adjustment Jim “Bones” Mackay had to make caddying his first round for Justin Thomas on Thursday? Setting up on the right side of the ball and cleaning the correct side of the clubs.
It was understandable after 25 years on lefthander Phil Mickelson’s bag.
Filling in for an injured Jimmy Johnson, who is expected to miss about a month while recovering from a bout of plantar fasciitis, Mackay not surprisingly clicked just fine otherwise with Thomas in the opening round of the Sony Open.
Though Thomas made just three birdies en route to a 67 — a year ago he opened with a 59 in the event — he was bogey-free at Waialae Country Club in his first lap with Mackay.
“I certainly was paying a lot of attention [to the course and Thomas] the last couple of days,” said Mackay, who last caddied at Waialae in 1992, a year before Thomas was born, and whose last round with Mickelson came last June in Memphis before the two mutually split. Since then, Mackay has been serving as on-course reporter for NBC and Golf Channel. “He’s fun to watch for sure. Beautiful day, great guys to play with. It was great to be out there.”
And a good pairing.
— Zesty Golf News (@zesty_golf) January 8, 2018
When Thomas was in between clubs on the breezy par-3 17th, Mackay helped convince him to change from 9-iron to 8-iron. He got the shot to the flag and two-putted from 25 feet for par.
“I didn’t have any opportunities to do anything stupid today,” Thomas said. “So I didn’t give [Mackay] a chance to veto any shots.”
Last week, Thomas’ dad and swing coach Mike filled in for the final two rounds at Kapalua after Johnson was unable to go. Mackay is expected to caddie this week only, while Thomas’ putting coach Matt Killen will get the bag for his next start in Phoenix in three weeks. Thomas is hopeful Johnson will be able to return after that.