OAKVILLE, Ontario (REUTERS) - Golfer Robert Allenby's bizarre season took another strange turn when his caddie walked off the course midway through the first round of the RBC Canadian Open on Thursday.
It is second time in eight years that Allenby's caddie has quit during the round, leaving the player to find a spectator to carry his bag for the remaining holes.
The trouble started at Allenby's fourth hole, the par-five 13th at Glen Abbey, when the 44-year-old Australian and bagman Mick Middlemo disagreed over club selection for the approach shot. His subsequent shot found the creek in front of the green, which led to a heated confrontation and a triple bogey.
"My nerves have been rattled. I'm in shock," Allenby told SCOREGolf after shooting 81 and withdrawing from the tournament.
"This is the worst incident I've ever witnessed as a player. "I said to him (Middlemo), 'You know this happens every week. We keep making bad mistakes and you're not helping me in these circumstances'.
"He just lost the plot at me. He 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'."
Middlemo's offered a different version of events, and a well placed source tells Reuters the final straw came when Allenby swore at the caddie.
"Robert's a pretty highly strung individual and he hasn't been playing great of late," Middlemo told Australian radio station SEN. "We had a discussion about a club, then of course I copped the wrath of that.
"Then unfortunately the personal insults started. I've been called a bad caddie ... but when the personal insults come in and you're being called a fat so-and-so ... I got a little bit peeved by it and then the third time he said it I walked up to him and basically said 'I dare you to say that to me again'.
"He didn't say it again. There was never going to be any violence ... I was just going to put the bag down, get my gear and leave."
Allenby is no stranger to such situations. At the 2007 BMW Open near Chicago, then-caddie Matthew "Bussy" Tritton dumped the bag near the seventh tee, removed his bib and walked off.
"It's not the first time and it won't be the last time," quipped Allenby at the time.
Two decades ago, another caddie quit on Allenby in the middle of the 1995 British Open at St Andrews.
Allenby made headlines in January when he claimed he was mugged and robbed after he missed the cut at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Police later arrested a man who plead guilty to using the golfer's credit card.