Matthew Fitzpatrick admits that he did a double take when he looked at his phone.
The Englishman was in need of a caddie, having returned to the U.S. while his regular looper, Billy Foster, stayed back home in the U.K. But he didn’t expect to receive a text from someone with the credentials of Jim “Bones” Mackay.
Mackay now works as an on-course reporter for NBC and Golf Channel, but he spent more than 20 years caddying for Phil Mickelson as Mickelson captured five major titles. He reached out to Fitzpatrick a few weeks ago, and now he’ll be on the bag for this week’s Workday for Charity Open and next week’s Memorial Tournament, both at Muirfield Village.
“I was shocked, honestly. I was absolutely shocked,” Fitzpatrick said. “I think [Workday CEO] Aneel [Bhusri] sort of helped out with that, as well, and then obviously Bones got in touch. He sort of texted me, and we took it from there really.”
“Having seen Matt play for several years now, getting paired with him when I was still with Phil, I knew two things: that he was a really good player and a really good guy,” Mackay said. “When I heard through the grapevine that some of the European caddies weren’t coming over because of the quarantine issues, and I heard Billy in particular wasn’t coming with Matt, I thought, my goodness, I’m going to reach out to this guy because I love to caddie, I still consider myself a caddie to this day who’s just doing TV. And I said, ‘Hey, if I can help out at all, I’d love to do it.'”
Fitzpatrick was one of the notable Europeans who returned to the U.S. in advance of the PGA Tour’s return, spending a two-week quarantine period in Florida before moving on to Texas for the Charles Schwab Challenge. He has made three starts with other caddies over the last month, notably finishing T-14 at the RBC Heritage, and expects Foster to be back on the bag for the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational at the end of July.
Fitzpatrick is currently ranked No. 26 in the world and made his lone appearance at Muirfield Village at last year’s Memorial. Given that Mackay boasts nearly two decades of course experience while looping for Mickelson, Fitzpatrick plans to tap into his vast library of course knowledge over the next two weeks.
“Just having someone who’s achieved so much, has so much experience, it kind of makes you feel better about your own game that someone of that stature has belief in your game,” Fitzpatrick said. “So for me, it absolutely gives me confidence going into the week. … It might be false confidence, but either way it’s certainly a big help in my opinion.”