25 Jul 2015

Allenby's caddie's version of events backed up

3:42 pm on 25 July 2015

A caddie who witnessed the fiery confrontation between Australian golfer Robert Allenby and his caddie during the Canadian Open is appalled by the way the player treated his bagman.

Australian golfer Robert Allenby

Australian golfer Robert Allenby Photo: Twitter

Simon Clarke watched the dust-up between Allenby and caddie Mick Middlemo because he was working for another player in the group, South Korean SJ Park.

Allenby sacked caddie Middlemo on his fourth hole, the par-five 13th at Glen Abbey, with the 44-year-old player claiming the two disputed club selection on the approach shot, which found the creek in front of the green and led to a triple bogey.

Clarke, who has known fellow Australian Allenby for two decades, said he was speaking publicly only because he did not want Middlemo's reputation to be unfairly maligned.

"I wouldn't be talking about it if he (Allenby) didn't tell the media afterwards a whole lot of porky pies," Clarke said.

"I've known Rob for a long time and I've known Mick for a long time. It's disappointing that at age 42, or however old he (Allenby) is, he's still treating people that way and how many good caddies he's gone through.

"It's sad that he speaks to the guys this way and doesn't wait until after the round. It's disappointing that he's up to his old tricks."

It's the second time in eight years that Allenby's caddie has quit during the round, leaving the player to find a spectator to carry his bag for the remaining holes.

The trouble started at Allenby's fourth hole, the par-five 13th at Glen Abbey, when the pro and bagman Middlemo disagreed over club selection for the approach shot.

His subsequent shot found the creek in front of the green, which led to a heated confrontation and a triple bogey.

"My nerves have been rattled. I'm in shock," Allenby told SCOREGolf after shooting 81 and withdrawing from the tournament. "This is the worst incident I've ever witnessed as a player.

"I said to him (Middlemo), 'You know this happens every week. We keep making bad mistakes and you're not helping me in these circumstances'.

"He just lost the plot at me. He got right in my face as if he wanted to just beat me up. I said, 'Stop being a such-and-such and calm down and get back into the game'. And he just got even closer and closer and I just said, 'That's it, you're sacked'."

Middlemo's offered a different version of events, and a well-placed source told Reuters the final straw came when Allenby swore at the caddie.

"Robert's a pretty highly strung individual and he hasn't been playing great of late," Middlemo told Australian radio station SEN.

"We had a discussion about a club, then of course I copped the wrath of that.

"Then unfortunately the personal insults started. I've been called a bad caddie... but when the personal insults come in and you're being called a fat so-and-so... I got a little bit peeved by it and then the third time he said it I walked up to him and basically said 'I dare you to say that to me again'.

"He didn't say it again. There was never going to be any violence... I was just going to put the bag down, get my gear and leave."

Allenby is no stranger to such situations. At the 2007 BMW Open near Chicago, then-caddie Matthew "Bussy" Tritton dumped the bag near the seventh tee, removed his bib and walked off.

"It's not the first time and it won't be the last time," quipped Allenby at the time.

Two decades ago, another caddie quit on Allenby in the middle of the 1995 British Open at St Andrews.

Allenby's had a bizarre golf season, making headlines in January when he claimed he was mugged and robbed after he missed the cut at the Sony Open in Hawaii.

Police later arrested a man who pleaded guilty to using the golfer's credit card.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs

We have regular online commentary of local and international sport.