Robert Allenby and his now-former caddie Mick Middlemo got into a heated exchange on Thursday in the early stages of the first round of the RBC Canadian Open that ended up with a player-caddie split, two very different versions of the incident and Allenby pulling out of the event.
The trouble started on the par-5 13th hole at Glen Abbey Golf Club, after Allenby's tee shot flew some 250 yards into a hazard, forcing Allenby to drop and hit his third shot as a layup to 135 yards. Preparing to hit his fourth, Allenby thought he should hit the shot with a 7-iron. According to Allenby, Middlemo, who began caddying for Allenby this year, disagreed and insisted Allenby hit the 8-iron. Allenby relented and hit the 8-iron. His ball found another water hazard when a gust of wind knocked the ball out of the air prematurely.
The Aussie said he got upset with Middlemo and said these kinds of mistakes were happening far too often. According to Score Golf, that remark prompted quite a confrontation.
“I said to him, ‘You know this happens every week. This has happened for like the last three or four or five months. We keep making bad mistakes and you’re not helping me in these circumstances,’” Allenby explained to Score Golf.
“And he just lost the plot at me. He just told me I could go **** myself. And I said, ‘Look, you need to slow down. I mean just calm down.’ And then he just 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.'”
However, Middlemo told Fox Sports Australia a disputing account, seemingly suggesting he quit the job rather than was fired.
“He called me a ‘fat c***’ a few times,” Middlemo said. “It kept bubbling away and I said to him, ‘I dare you to say that again’. We were yelling each other a bit at this stage. There were a few innuendos and he slapped the putter back in my hand harder than he should have."
Middlemo said he never thought the incident was going to turn violent.
“A couple of the players were taken aback. I actually apologised to the guys we were playing with, SJ Park and Jon Curran, because it was pretty loud.
Curiously, Middlemo, despite apparently having been fired on the fourth hole of the day, caddied the bag for the remainder of the first nine on Thursday before dropping the bag and leaving Allenby to find a substitute from the Canadian Open gallery. A fan volunteered to help out and finished the round with help from Allenby and the other two caddies in the group.
Allenby carded 9-over 81, which left him at the very bottom of the leaderboard after Thursday play. On Friday, Allenby thought the better of futilely finishing out the first two rounds and withdrew.
This incident is the second strange one involving Allenby -- and Middlemo, for that matter -- this season.
After missing the cut at the Sony Open in Hawaii in January, Allenby, Middlemo and a friend went to a Waikiki wine bar for drinks as part of a night out. Allenby recalled leaving the bar, but then did not clearly recollect anything until, he says, he woke up in a nearby park being harassed by homeless people. He sustained injuries he said were the result of being kidnapped and beaten up. His credit cards were stolen, with a man recently pleading guilty to using them illegally after the incident. However, it remains unclear how Allenby was hurt.