Call it the Royal Rumble Down Under.
Multiple media outlets are reporting that the caddies for James Nitties and Marc Leishman were involved in a physical altercation on the chipping green during the opening round of the Australian Open on Thursday.
Grant Buchanan and Matt Kelly – the loopers for Nitties and Leishman, respectively – reportedly came to blows at about 11:15 a.m. local time, while their players were warming up for the first round. Punches were thrown, causing both men to fall to the ground, where they continued to wrestle – yes, in front of both players and spectators – until they were eventually broken up. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, “Kelly sustained a cut above his lip and was forced to leave the course to wash the blood from his face.”
This was the continuation of a verbal altercation the two men had a few nights earlier at the Star Casino, according to reports.
“Matt was a good friend of mine, (or) so I thought,” Buchanan said, according the report. “He said some things that offended me and I approached him to clarify it and clear the air, and he pretty much laughed in my face.”
The Associated Press reported that the PGA Tour of Australasia is investigating the incident, and the caddies may face disciplinary action. In the opening round, Leishman shot 2-under 70 and Nitties carded 77.
“I regret it but I was put in an awkward situation, I guess,” Buchanan said, according to the report. “I’m a passionate person and when people say things about myself and friends who I care deeply about, it’s hard. Sometimes people say things and think nothing should come of it. But I just think sometimes people should be responsible for what they say.”