Mickelson, caddie parting ways is surprising

In a blockbuster statement issued earlier this week, it was revealed that tour-favorite Phil Mickelson and longtime caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay were parting ways after a run that spanned more than 25 years.

To many golf fans, the familiar, bag-toting Mackay had become more recognizable than many touring pros. His friendly — yet confident — advice to Mickelson during the course of a round was on display every time the future Hall of Famer was in contention.

When news of the split broke on Tuesday, the entire golf world seemed to be in a state of disbelief. Numerous PGA stars were stunned by the revelation. I was among the many astounded by the news.

Mickelson’s released statement read, in part, “Our decision is not based on a single incident. We just feel it’s the right time for a change.”

Mickelson also announced he will be using his brother, Tim, to carry his bag for the time being. It will be interesting to see whom he chooses for the long-term. It will also be fascinating to see who his long-time caddie, Mackay, ends up looping for.

Local Junior Tour

Kudos to Summit Country Club head pro Randy Repko, who has taken up the reins as coordinator for the PA Ridgerunner Tour — a local series of junior tournaments originally established by former Park Hills head pro Rich Conwell just a few years ago.

The tour consists of weekly competitions for area youths — boys and girls divisions in several age brackets — held at various local clubs on Monday mornings.

The next event is scheduled for Sinking Valley on Sunday, followed by Summit Country Club on July 10.

Additional events will continue through the summer. For more information, please call the Summit pro shop at 886-9985.

West Penn Amateur

Over the past couple of years, it’s been great to see the increased participation and competitiveness of local golfers in statewide events.

For well over a decade, Sinking Valley’s Artie Fink Jr. has been a prominent fixture in these state events, and the return of Scotch Valley’s Anthony DeGol to the amateur scene will add another strong, local competitor.

It’s also nice to see an additional number of talented, local golfers competing in these high-level competitions.

Just last week, Brett Miller and Jordan Albright (from Iron Masters Country Club) survived stiff competition to qualify for the prestigious 2017 West Penn Amateur Championship, which will be held next Monday and Tuesday at Sunnehanna Country Club in Johnstown. Locally, Fink and Ron Hinish earned alternate spots.

The historic West Penn Amateur was first held in 1899 and has been won by the best golfers in Pennsylvania’s history, including four-time champion Arnold Palmer.

Good luck to Miller and Albright, who are scheduled to play 36 holes in Monday’s opening day.

Ken Love covers local golf for the Mirror. He can be reached at gltr777@atlanticbb.net.