IT was a case of caddywhack for Warrnambool’s Matt Kelly on the opening day of the Australian Open yesterday.
In the type of incident not seen since Happy Gilmore attacked Bob Barker during the Pepsi Pro-Am in the 1996 Adam Sandler movie, the morning began with drama when Kelly, carrying for Warrnambool’s Marc Leishman, and another caddy were involved in an ugly altercation on the chipping green.
Kelly and Grant Buchanan, on the bags for James Nitties, came to blows about 11.15am. Fairfax Media witnessed punches being thrown before the pair fell to the ground and continued wrestling in front of players and spectators.
“Matt was a good friend of mine, so I thought,’’ Buchanan said later.
“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.’’
What began as a war of words a couple of days ago at Sydney’s Star casino ended in embarrassment for the pair and tournament officials, with the scene a major talking point on the first day.
The pair was eventually separated, but not before Kelly sustained a cut on his top lip.
It isn’t the first time Kelly has been involved in a fight that has landed him in hot water. He faced court last year after an alcohol-fuelled brawl in his home town of Warrnambool.
He pleaded guilty and was not convicted and avoided a $2500 fine for recklessly causing injury and resisting police, although he was convicted on the lesser charge of being drunk and was fined $150 and banned from the city centre between 9pm and 6am for 12 months.
PGA Tour of Australasia officials approached both Kelly and Buchanan when they returned to the clubhouse after their round, with investigations into the matter to continue today.
‘‘I regret it but I was put in an awkward situation, I guess,’’ Buchanan said.
‘‘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.’’
SYDNEY MORNING HERALD