They say breaking up is the hardest thing to do. In golf, it’s no different. Whether it’s firing a caddie, splitting from a coach, or even a sponsor, it’s never fun. Here are 10 of the biggest breakups on Tour over the years.
Phil Mickelson / Jim “Bones” Mackay
Jim “Bones” Mackay made his way over to Phil Mickelson’s bag beginning in 1992. Over the last 25 years, they established themselves as one of the PGA Tour’s power couples winning 41 times, including five majors (Bones missed out on one in 1991 when Phil was in college). They also competed in a record 11 Ryder Cups together. However, they never won that elusive U.S. Open.
Bones also probably holds the record for pulling the most pins from over 60 yards. As the story goes, Phil granted Bones one veto per year that he could call him on when he didn’t agree with the play. Phil usually did what he wanted anyway. The recent news of their split shocked golf fans everywhere. According to them, it was mutual.
PGA Tour / PGA of America
Before the PGA Tour, it was only the PGA of America. However, things changed with the arrival of superstars like Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. TV revenue that was previously nonexistent was flowing in like water leading to higher purses and eventually in 1969 the formation of the PGA Tour. Both sides benefitted as club pros could now compete at a local level. Plus the PGA of America hung on to the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup.
Rory McIlroy / Titleist
Back in 2012, Rory McIlroy and Acushnet Co. (Titleist/FootJoy) ended a 5-year partnership that produced two major championships. Rory wasn’t the first superstar they lost in the sport. Before him, both Tiger and Phil both left for other manufacturers.
Tiger Woods / Butch Harmon
Under Butch Harmon’s instruction, Tiger Woods reached astronomical heights. Together, they won eight majors including arguably the best stretch in golf history when they ripped off seven out of 11 from 1999-2002. However, Woods constant pursuit of perfection intervened. Harmon didn’t agree with certain swing changes Woods wanted to make. They officially split in 2004.
John Daly / Callaway
John Daly signed on with Callaway in May 1997, under one glaring condition. Daly could not drink or gamble. Daly’s staff bag even had the slogan “Keep It Straight, John.” Two years later, Daly couldn’t hold up his end of the bargain forcing Callaway to end his contract.
“Regrettably, we cannot continue to have John as a company representative when he is not prepared to take the future steps that we feel are necessary to deal with the alcohol and gambling problems facing him,” company chairman Ely Callaway said.
Sean O’Hair / Marc O’Hair
Father-son relationships can be complicated, and Sean O’Hair’s would classify as such. Growing up, O’Hair was pushed to the limits by his father Marc with grueling practice schedules growing up. He even made Sean turn pro before his senior year in high school. In 2002 O’Hair eloped with his girlfriend Jackie running away from his father. In 2005, the two agreed that the contracts they signed previously in which O’Hair had to pay his father 10% of his future earnings were void. It’s been reported the two still do not speak.
Gary McCord / Augusta National
If you listen closely during CBS’ Masters broadcast, you won’t hear Gary McCord voice. That’s because back in 1994 McCord made reference to the fact that Augusta National grounds crew was “bikini-waxing” the greens. While the club has denied the fact he’s been banished, he’s not been there since. Maybe it’s a coincidence, but probably not.
Ben Hogan / MacGregor Golf
Ben Hogan ended his relationship with MacGregor Golf in 1953 after the company couldn’t convince him to use its top ball in competition. Given what was an already interesting relationship since Hogan felt the equipment benefited his competitor Byron Nelson, he decided to call it quits and put a different ball in play…and won the U.S. and British Opens to complete the “Hogan Slam.” For good measure, he started his own club manufacturing company shortly after.
Lee Trevino / Augusta National
Lee Trevino didn’t split up with a person, rather a golf course. The six-time major winner never really was able to contend at Augusta National due to his patented low left-to-right ball flight. Plus he never felt comfortable fitting in with his colorful personality. After struggling in 1968 and 1969, the Merry Mex vowed he’d never go back. While he did play it again, he skipped four Masters in the 1970s. In a 2011 interview with Lorne Rubenstein, he said “Great tournament, great venue, great history. But it’s not a great course.”
Tiger Woods / Steve Williams
Tiger Woods split with caddie Steve Williams was one for the ages. The pair won 13 majors and numerous events together during their 12-plus year tenure. However, the relationship didn’t end amicably. Woods announced the split during the summer of 2011 on his website catching Williams off guard considering the close bond he thought they formed. Williams went on to Adam Scott’s bag and now has 14 majors…same as Tiger.