It was only a matter of time before one of the witnesses to the dust-up between Robert Allenby and his caddie, Mick Middlemo, in the first round of the RBC Canadian Open came forward with his version of events.
Speaking out on Friday was Simon Clarke, an Australian who was looping for another player in the group, South Korean S.J. Park. Clarke, who said he has known fellow Aussie Allenby for more than two decades, told Reuters, “I wouldn’t be talking about it if he [Allenby] didn’t tell the media afterwards a whole lot of porky pies [Australian slang for lies]."
As was reported Thursday, Allenby and Middlemo became embroiled in a bitter on-course argument after the player claimed bad club selection cost him a penalty stroke and a triple bogey. Each blamed the other for escalating the dispute, and Middlemo either quit or was fired after nine holes. Allenby played the rest of the round with a spectator carrying his bag, signed for an 81 and later withdrew.
“I’ve known Rob for a long time and I’ve known Mick for a long time," Clarke said. "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.”
Reuters said Allenby did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.
Clarke said Allenby called Middlemo an “overweight so-and-so.
“Mick took exception to that. He got fired up. Mick demanded [Allenby] call him that again. Adreneline 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.”
Clarke said Middlemo asked him and the other caddie in the group for advice after the incident, which took place on Allenby's fourth hole of the day, the par-5 13th at Glen Abbey. He said they both advised him to complete the round in silence.
“It’s a death march that nobody likes,” Clarke said.
After Allenby made another triple bogey to finish his first nine, he said something to Middlemo as they walked off the green. Clarke said he couldn't 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 parking lot.
“If Rob tells the true story, I’m not speaking out,” Clarke said. “Lies affect Mick’s career.”