Besieged Robert Allenby returns to tournament golf tomorrow after a torrid week in the world’s media for the second time this year.
Allenby, 44, will tee up in the Quicken Loans National on the US PGA Tour in Virginia just days after splitting with caddie Mick Middlemo midway through a round of the Canadian Open.
And the next episode of the saga, as the world media accesses Allenby first hand again, is sure to raise more eyebrows.
Middlemo, a respected caddie for more than 15 years, walked off after nine holes of the opening round at Glen Abbey Golf Club in Ontario.
The pair, who had not exchanged a word since arguing after a triple-bogey on the Victorian’s fourth hole, then exchanged a series of heated shots at each other through the Canadian media.
That continued at the weekend and into this week with Australian media pushing hard with the story.
Middlemo claimed Allenby had abused him and called him a “fat —-“ before threatening to have him barred for life from the US PGA Tour.
Allenby claimed that Middlemo, the third caddie to walk off on him mid-round during his career, had physically threatened him and told him to “go —- yourself”.
The six-time Presidents Cup representative gave a gallery member a thrill by hauling him out from behind the ropes to carry his bag for the final nine holes, then promptly withdrew from the tournament.
Middlemo, fearful his besmirched reputation would hinder his chances of a future job on tour, came out swinging across the weekend, pushing his side of the story even further.
The caddie cast grave doubts on Allenby’s version of events from his infamous and ill-fated night out in Hawaii in January.
Middlemo, speaking with News Corp, dubbed him the “Bernard Tomic” of Australian golf, and disputed the kidnapping story that caused such controversy, one that he supported at the time.
Allenby maintains he was drugged, kidnapped, beaten and robbed after drinking at a wine bar in Honolulu.
“That’s the story I told because that’s the story he told me to tell because I wasn’t there,” said Middlemo, who said he had protected him “to the hilt” over the incident throughout this year.
“Do I think he got mugged and bashed and absolutely robbed? No I don’t,” Middlemo said.
“Do I think he fell over and cracked his head? Honestly I do … I think he fell over and someone picked up his wallet and had a great time with his credit card.”
But then, just to muddy the waters even further, Anthony Puntoriero, a close friend of Allenby’s who been with him in Hawaii on that fateful night, sprung to his defence, slamming Middlemo’s version of events.
"It's a disgrace that everybody is taking as gospel the words of a man who had left the bar at least an hour before Robert was assaulted so the fact he has anything to say about it is unbelievable,” Puntorierio said.
Puntoriero said he suspects it was Middlemo who leaked details of the night to the media in the first place and suggested the caddie might be coming forward now for financial reward after recently asking Allenby for a loan to help with his restaurant in Atlanta.
Middlemo denies payment for the News Corp interview.
Allenby has endured a wretched year on Tour and is battling to retain his card.
Ranked as high as No.12 in the world after the 2010 Players Championship, he has fallen dramatically to be ranked No.401 heading into tomorrow’s event.
It’s a spectacular fall for the four-time winner on the US PGA Tour, who has been embroiled in a series of controversies since his most recent win at home, the 2009 Australian PGA Championship at Coolum.
He remains the only winner of the Australian “Triple Crown” having won the Open, Masters and PGA in 2005.