The Robert Allenby saga took another bizarre twist on Thursday, when his caddie charged the PGA Tour player with bullying him during an acrimonious breakup between the two halfway through the first round of the RBC Canadian Open.
A dispute about which club to use on his fourth hole of the day at Glen Abbey led to an argument between Allenby and looper Mick Middlemo. After Allenby’s shot landed short and in a creek, leading to a triple-bogey, the fireworks began, according to multiple reports.
"I said to [Middlemo], '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.' And he just lost the plot at me. He just told me I could go eff myself," Allenby told Jason Logan of ScoreGolf.com. "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.’ I said, ‘I will never have you caddie ever again.’"
Middlemo told his side of the story to GolfChannel.com, saying Allenby raged at him, saying, "'I’m so sick of this fu----- bu------ you c---.'
"I said, ‘Look, if you want someone to abuse, get someone out of the parking lot,’" said Middlemo. "And then he said it to me again and I said, ‘I dare you to call me a c--- again.’ That was it."
Middlemo finished the first nine as Allenby’s bagman and the duo had differing stories about what happened next. Allenby said he fired Middlemo after the caddie threatened him, while the bagman claimed his boss threatened to get him "‘fired for life on this tour.’"
Middlemo then put the bag down, "got my stuff and hung my bib on the bag and then I walked away and went home."’ He told Golf Channel, after conferring with tour officials, that he was Allenby’s fourth caddie to quit the player during play.
"I’m a pretty big bloke -- 6'2 and 110 kilograms (243 pounds) -- and can handle myself," Middlemo told FoxSports.com. "He wouldn’t have said that stuff to me anywhere other than on a golf course.
"He’s just a bully. He likes to bully caddies. You couldn’t get away with that in any workplace in the world, but somehow he thinks it’s appropriate on a golf course.
"It’s the worst I’ve ever heard. But it’s not like I’m the first guy this has happened to with him. I’m the fourth caddie to walk off the golf course with him."
Allenby, who began the day on No. 10, carried his bag to the first tee, after his own meeting with tour officials, accepted the offer of a spectator to handle the luggage. In the end, Allenby carded a 9-over 81 and withdrew from the event.
Allenby asked for security personnel to accompany him off the course, contending that Middlemo threatened to wait for him in the parking lot.
"This is the worst incident I’ve ever witnessed as a player," he told ScoreGolf.
ESPN.com reported that a person walking with the Allenby group confirmed Middlemo’s version of the incident.
It has certainly been a strange year for Allenby, who said he was beaten and robbed during the Sony Open. Police have since arrested a man who pleaded guilty to using Allenby's credit card.