- Associated Press - Monday, June 26, 2017

OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. (AP) - Phil Mickelson isn’t sure what’s next for Jim “Bones” Mackay. He is sure there are going to be plenty of options for his longtime caddie.

Mickelson and Mackay announced last week they had decided to split up after 25 years and more than 600 tournaments around the world, ending one of golf’s most successful relationships.

Mickelson’s brother Tim is going to caddie for him for the rest of the year, and Lefty thinks there will be no shortage of potential suitors for Mackay.

“He’s going to have some incredible opportunities,” Mickelson said Monday in his first public comments since the split. “There’s going to be a great player - a lot of great players, but one great player’s going to be lucky enough to have him and he’s going to bring a lot to his game and they’re going to be a great team. And then it gives me an opportunity to spend time with my brother for the rest of this year, which I’m looking forward to.”

Tim Mickelson was the golf coach at Arizona State before he left the position to become Jon Rahm’s agent, and Phil Mickelson thanked Rahm for approving his brother’s new schedule. Tim Mickelson also carried his big brother’s bag during the Mexico Championship when Mackay went down with a stomach virus.

Asked if Mackay will start working for Rahm, Phil Mickelson said he had no idea and didn’t want to speculate on Mackay’s next job.

“He’s not told me anything and I think that he’s going to have a lot of players call him and inquire about his services,” Mickelson said. “That would be what I would anticipate. But I don’t know.”

Mickelson, who celebrated his 47th birthday on June 16, and Mackay started working together at a U.S. Open qualifier in Memphis, Tennessee in 1992. Mickelson was hoping to have their final round together at this year’s U.S. Open, but he skipped the tournament to attend his oldest daughter’s high school graduation in California.

Mackay went to Erin Hills in Wisconsin to scout the course in case a weather delay would have allowed Mickelson to make his tee time, but it didn’t work out. Instead, their last round was in the St. Jude Classic - in Memphis.

“We knew that final round in Memphis that that was our last round together - or most likely,” Mickelson said. “We were holding out hope that it wasn’t, that we had one more week, and it was an emotional day. But we both know it’s time.”

Mickelson joined LPGA stars Brooke Henderson, Lydia Ko and Stacy Lewis for a skills challenge at Olympia Fields on Monday ahead of this weekend’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. Mickelson and KPMG also announced a donation by the Phil and Amy Mickelson Foundation to the company’s future leaders program, which awards college scholarships to young women and brings them to Stanford University for a leadership development retreat.

Mickelson signed autographs for about a half-hour after winning the skills competition, which included a couple different chipping contests and a knockout game involving images of each player behind plates of glass.

“I was nervous because I know how good they are,” he said, “and it was fun because it gave me an opportunity to be around some of the best players in the world, best athletes in the world.”

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Jay Cohen can be reached at https://www.twitter.com/jcohenap

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