Bones 'absolutely overjoyed' for second act of career

By Ryan LavnerJuly 6, 2017, 6:30 pm

As expected, Jim “Bones” Mackay received plenty of intriguing offers after spending a quarter century as the most high-profile caddie in golf.

None sounded more appealing than TV work.

Just two weeks after his sudden and surprising split with longtime boss Phil Mickelson, Mackay joined NBC Sports as an on-course reporter. The multiyear deal will put Mackay, 52, on the ground at some of the biggest events in golf, beginning in two weeks at The Open at Royal Birkdale, and continuing throughout the rest of the year at the FedExCup Playoffs and Presidents Cup. He will work a full schedule (about 20 events) in 2018.

“This is a great day for me,” Mackay said. “I’m absolutely overjoyed.”

The self-described “golf rat” has long been fascinated by the inner workings of TV. In November 2015, he and fellow caddie John Wood, who loops for Matt Kuchar, worked together as on-course reporters at the RSM Classic on Sea Island. Initially, NBC’s lead producer Tommy Roy said, using the two caddies was a “hook,” a reason for viewers to tune in during a typically slow week on the golf calendar. But Roy quickly realized that both Mackay and Wood offered unique, succinct takes on the rounds unfolding in front of them. (Roy’s only critique of Bones: No chewing gum on camera.) “They both just blew me away,” he said.

Mackay and Wood came away with the understanding that if they ever decided to leave the caddie yard, a job offer would be waiting for them.

And Mackay became available first.

Soon after Mickelson and Mackay announced that they were splitting after 25 years, Roy phoned Mackay to discuss the possibility of working together again.

“And the more we talked,” Mackay said, “the more amazing it sounded in terms of what I was going to do with my professional life moving forward.”

For Roy, the move was a no-brainer: Having eavesdropped on Phil and Bones’ illuminating conversations inside the ropes, and after lengthy dinners together on the road, Roy knew Mackay possessed two of the most important qualities of a great broadcaster: He was a strong, smart communicator and a big-picture thinker.

“The conversation was rarely about Bones and Phil and their little, myopic world,” Roy said. “It was always bigger picture, and the storylines that were happening in the event. Bones thinks like a producer. Those things usually take time to get ingrained in you, and he already has that.”

The addition of Mackay, one of the sport's most well-known figures, breaks the mold in golf broadcasting, as he is the first caddie to be used in a full-time tournament role. TV executives often are criticized for retaining the same bland analysts who are decades removed from competition. But Mackay’s hire opens the door for other fresh and interesting voices, whether they’re caddies, swing coaches, sports psychologists or – gasp! – even writers.

“It could be a game-changer,” said one golf broadcaster.

Will the Bones experiment work? The belief here is that he will prove to be a resounding success. Not only has he amassed a wealth of knowledge over the past 27 years about the PGA Tour’s players, caddies and courses, but he is already approaching the TV side with the same meticulousness that led to an extraordinary run with the most unpredictable star of his generation. After all, this is a guy who used to towel off his boss’ rain gear, who attended his brother’s morning wedding and then carried Phil’s bag in the afternoon, and who painstakingly scouted new venues on achy knees. So is it any surprise that Mackay is already poring over his yardage books from Birkdale and pitching ideas to Roy?

Yes, there is so much for him to learn. The role of on-course reporter is more complicated than merely calling shots – it involves talking with a producer yapping in your ear, keeping up with the frenetic cadence of live golf and being ready to join the telecast at any moment. But Mackay has promised to pepper his new co-workers with questions over the next few weeks – “I’m gonna drive these guys nuts” – as he prepares for his official debut on July 20.

“I’m embracing this entire thing,” he said, “and I can’t wait to get at it and hopefully get better in every single area.”

Who knows? Maybe Bones’ second career will be just as memorable as his first.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”

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After 36, new Open favorite is ... Fleetwood

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 7:49 pm

With a handful of the pre-championship favorites exiting early, there is a new odds-on leader entering the third round of The Open at Carnoustie.

While Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner share the 36-hole lead, it's England's Tommy Fleetwood who leads the betting pack at 11/2. Fleetwood begins the third round one shot off the lead.

Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at

Tommy Fleetwood: 11/2

Zach Johnson: 13/2

Rory McIlroy: 7/1

Jordan Spieth: 8/1

Rickie Fowler: 9/1

Kevin Kisner: 12/1

Xander Schauffele: 16/1

Tony Finau: 16/1

Matt Kuchar: 18/1

Pat Perez: 25/1

Brooks Koepka: 25/1

Erik van Rooyen: 50/1

Alex Noren: 50/1

Tiger Woods: 50/1

Thorbjorn Olesen: 60/1

Danny Willett: 60/1

Francesco Molinari: 60/1