It's not every day a golf fan gets a chance to caddie for a player at a legitimate PGA Tour event, but that's exactly what happened to Tom Fraser during the first round of the Canadian Open at Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Canada, Thursday.
And of course that Tour player was Robert Allenby, the veteran Australian golfer with a flair for the dramatic—particularly this season—who fired his regular caddie mid-round.
Earlier this year, the 44-year-old was at the center of a widely speculated upon incident in which he claims he was the victim of a kidnapping, mugging and robbery at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Arrests were made in February, and earlier this month Owen Harbison pleaded guilty to using Allenby's credit cards. Allenby has had to defend himself to the media multiple times, insisting the truth of his story.
Fast forward to Thursday, the first round of the Canadian Open. Allenby was about to make his fourth shot on the par-5 13th—his fourth hole of the day—after already incurring a penalty stroke off the tee. His caddie, Mick Middlemo, was incessant that Allenby go with an 8-iron for the 150-yard shot, despite Allenby's urge to use his 7-iron. When Allenby followed his caddie's advice, an ill-timed gust of wind left him short of the hole and in a creek. He tripled.
A blog post said this was how the interaction between Allenby and Middlemo went down, according to Allenby:
“I said to him, ‘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,’” Allenby said after his round of 81. “And he just lost the plot at me. He just told me I could go eff myself. 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.’ And we never spoke for the rest of the (first nine) and when we got to 18 we walked off and he said some smartass remark to me and I said, ‘You don’t deserve to be caddying out there.’ And he just got right in my face and threatened me so I said, ‘Go.’ So he left.”
Caddie-less, Allenby lugged his own bag to the 18th green to talk with a rules official.
That's where Tom Fraser jumped in, after watching the whole thing unfold.
“Hey, if you need someone to carry, I’ll carry,” said Fraser. Allenby obliged.
Fraser, a school principal, stayed on the bag for Allenby's last nine holes. Allenby birdied the first hole with his new caddie but later had four straight bogeys. He finished with a 43 and said he plans to withdraw.
Said Allenby, "My nerves have been rattled. I’m in shock.
"Everything that’s gone on this year, that was the last thing I needed. I’ve been obviously beaten up, robbed and stolen from, what have you in Hawaii and all that. I haven’t dealt with it well all year, it’s been tough, and then I got something like this."
Allenby said that Middlemo threatened him as he walked away, saying that Middlemo would be waiting for him in the parking lot following the round.
Despite Allenby's poor play, it seems Fraser passed the temporary caddie test:
"He did a great job," Allenby. "He did everything he was told. He was a nice guy. I’m really thankful that he helped me out. It was nice to have someone friendly on the bag who didn’t want to threaten me.”