Phil Mickelson was one of only three eligible players to skip this week’s Sentry Tournament of Champions, but that didn’t prohibit golf fans from learning some inside information on the popular left-hander.
Jim “Bones” Mackay worked as Mickelson’s caddie for 25 years, but now working for NBC as an on-course reporter, Mackay has added another dimension to television broadcasts, including revealing some of the idiosyncrasies that Phil had during his Hall of Fame career.
On Sunday at the Plantation Course on Maui, Mackay was following the final group of Rory McIlroy and Gary Woodland Mackay opened up his microphone to report that McIlroy had been using a golf ball with the number “5” on it.
That relatively useless piece of information, coupled with the location of the event, triggered a memory for Mackay that not only exemplifies just how particular the best players in the world are but also how superstitious they are as well.
During the broadcast of the Sentry Tournament of Champions, Phil Mickelson's former caddie, Jim 'Bones' Mackay, shared a story about Phil's superstitious ways.
— Golf Digest (@GolfDigest) January 7, 2019
“I’ve been noticing this week that Rory’s been using a ball with the number five on it. These players out here, they love some numbers on their balls and they hate others,” Mackay said. “When I went to work for Phil Mickelson in the early ’90s he told me, ‘Don’t ever give me a golf ball with a number 2 on it.’
“Some years later, he was in a playoff against Fred Couples in the Sentry Tournament of Champions. We completed 72 holes and of course, all we had left in the locker were 2s.
“He went out, somehow won the playoff and of course for the next 10 years anytime a big spot came around he was looking for a 2.”
Whether or not you’re a big believer in superstitions, maybe the next time you need a birdie on the last hole to win your weekend game, try swapping out your golf ball for one with a “2” on it.
It worked pretty well for Phil.