A caddy from the family tree

A caddy from the family tree

Golf : Phil Mickelson had a rare day of fun with his brother carrying his bag on the course

A caddy from the family tree

Phil Mickelson approached his bag for a golf ball to give to a volunteer and saw his younger brother, Tim, surrounded by reporters. Feigning disappointment, Phil Mickelson said, “There are more reporters for you than me.”

Tim Mickelson, a former golf coach who now manages one of his former collegiate players, Jon Rahm, is accustomed to operating in his brother’s shadow. But not in quite the way he did the other day. After three holes of Phil Mickelson’s second round at the World Golf Championships event at Club de Golf Chapultepec in Mexico, he summoned his brother from the gallery to caddie for him after his longtime bagman, Jim Mackay, became too ill with a stomach ailment to continue.

“I had a lot of fun with my brother,” Mickelson said, adding: “He gives me the needle, but I think that’s so funny. It keeps me relaxed.”

Mackay, who is known by his nickname, Bones, relinquished the bag on the 13th hole. Mickelson carded his only bogey of the round on the next hole but wisely refrained from blaming his caddie for the earlier results.

Mickelson’s new caddie had an up-close look at his brother’s wizardry on their 11th hole when, after finding the rough on the far side of the cart path on the 387-yard par-4 hole, Mickelson hit a rainbow flop shot through a small gap in the trees.

Nearly any other golfer would have tried to hit a low shot toward the pin to avoid the branches, but not Mickelson. And his brother knew better than to open his mouth after he saw Mickelson look skyward upon arriving at his ball.

“I’ve seen him play long enough so I knew that’s exactly what he was going to do,” Tim Mickelson said, adding: “He had a gap about the size of that flag, about 6 feet. And he hit it just barely too fat or otherwise it would have been perfect.”

From where his flop shot landed, Phil Mickelson got up and down to salvage par. He was less sure of what to do on the par-3 seventh when he was in between an 8- and a 9-iron off the tee. Would Mackay have been a help in that situation? He seems to know Mickelson so well that he can not only finish his sentences, but read his thought bubbles.

Mackay’s connection with Mickelson, honed over nearly 600 tournaments together since Mickelson turned pro in 1992, probably would not have made a difference there, Mickelson said. He chose the 8-iron and hit it past the pin, but salvaged par.

“Bones is irreplaceable because he’s so good at what he does, and we’ve worked together for 25 years now, so we just have this intricate rapport,” said Mickelson, who added that if Mackay had to take a sick day, he had picked an ideal tournament. Because it is the first year the event is being held at Chapultepec, Mackay had no insider knowledge or past memories to share with Mickelson as he usually does.

“I’m less reliant on him here, whereas at Augusta it would have been catastrophic,” Mickelson said, referring to the site of the Masters, “because we have so much history on that golf course over the years, so many shots that he’s documented, how far each club has gone and where we want to be and not be.”

Mickelson’s brother knew his place. “Well, he’s never listened to me on the course or off the course, so nothing is going to change,” Tim Mickelson said with a laugh. He added, “We both made sure we did the numbers, and then it was up to him to figure out stuff.”

Mickelson’s brother expected Mackay back as soon as the third round, and he was fine with that. “Trust me, I don’t want Bones’ job,” he said, adding: “I have a whole new respect. Every hole seems uphill.”