By Tim Wharnsby
OAKVILLE, Ontario (Reuters) - A caddie who witnessed the fiery verbal confrontation between Robert Allenby and his caddie during the Canadian Open is appalled by the way the player treated his bagman.
Simon Clarke watched the dust up between Allenby and caddie Mick Middlemo on Thursday, because he was working for another player in the group, South Korean S.J. 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 told Reuters on Friday.
“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.”
Allenby did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.
Clarke observed that while caddies often make suggestions about club selection, the final decision is ultimately up to the player.
He said Allenby called Middlemo “a overweight so-and-so” and that the comment upset the caddie.
“Mick took exception to that,” Clarke said. “He got fired up. Mick demanded (Allenby) call him that again. Adrenelin and all, it wasn’t pretty. Robert didn’t call him that anymore because I don’t think that he was sure what was going to happen.” According to Clarke, he and the other caddie in the group were asked for advice by Middlemo after the incident.
They both advised Middlemo to complete the round in silence.
“It’s a death march that nobody likes,” Clarke said.
Allenby, after making another triple-bogey to finish his first nine, mumbled something to Middlemo as they walked off the green.
Clarke could not hear what Allenby said, but he saw Middlemo take off his caddie bib and then yell at his player.
“It was clear as day, ‘try talking to me like that off the golf course’,” Clarke said.
Allenby told a reporter that Middlemo challenged him to meet in the car park.
Allenby had a spectator carry his clubs on the back nine and shot nine-over 81, before pulling out of the event.
“If Rob tells the true story, I’m not speaking out,” Clarke said. “Lies affect Mick’s career.”
(Editing by Andrew Both)