"When I went and hugged Bones, the feeling was it was hard to believe we finally did it," Phil Mickelson said. "We've had so many close calls together. Bones has been with me from Day 1. He's ridden the waves with me, and there's been a lot of waves crashing on us in final rounds. To be riding on the top of the wave this time was really cool."
Bones - as he has been known to everyone ever since Fred Couples blurted it out when he couldn't remember his name - started his caddie career in 1990 for Larry Mize , the Augusta native and 1987 Masters Tournament champion.
"It's my dream job," Mackay says. "There's nothing I would rather do."
A Columbus, Ga., native who lived for years in Athens, Ga., before moving recently to Scottsdale, Ariz., Mackay hooked up with Mickelson as soon as the amateur and collegiate superstar turned pro in 1993. He has been on his bag for every one of his victories as a professional - and for every one of his major near-misses.
Mackay doesn't normally speak on the record to reporters, but he couldn't avoid the mobs seeking a little insight from Mickelson's left-hand man after one of the most remarkable Masters finales.
His low-profile assessment of the blistering back-nine rally: "He hit shots and made putts - what can I say?"
There was a lot more to it than that, and Mickelson credits Mackay's advice for helping set up two of the biggest birdies coming home last year.
The first was on No. 14, when Mackay recommended a higher, softer pitching wedge from 146 yards instead of the hotter 9-iron Mickelson was considering. Mickelson stiffed it to a foot.
Then on No. 16, Mackay reminded Mickelson of the 7-iron that went long on Friday and led to a double bogey. Mickelson went with what he called a "stock 8-iron" from 178 to leave it in a spot where he could make the uphill birdie putt to draw even with Ernie Els .
"After Phil made that putt, he came over to me and gave me a nudge. 'Let's get one more, Bones.' " Mackay said in Mickelson's newly released book, One Magical Sunday. "He had this unbelievable look in his eye. I just knew he was going to do it."
After the putt on the 18th green, the two embraced, with Mickelson shouting, "We finally did it!" into Bones' ear.
Bones left the green, never letting go of the pin and the flag he would dutifully remove for his boss' collection. He celebrated with dinner at T-Bonz - receiving congratulations from other caddies, including Els' caddie - before going home to see the birth of his first child, Oliver, four days later.
"It has been a very emotional week for both of us," Mickelson said. "I think he feels as overwhelmed and as incredible as I do."
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