US PGA Tour star Marc Leishman insists James Nitties' bagman is squarely to blame for the 'caddie whack' incident that has rocked the Australian Open.
Leishman, Australia's only winner on the US PGA tour this season, yesterday welcomed an investigation into the dust-up between his caddie Matt Kelly and Grant Buchanan, the bagman of compatriot Nitties.
The PGA Tour of Australasia condemned Thursday's incident, which occurred near a practice green as the players prepared for their opening rounds, and did not rule out involving police. However, it appears more likely the PGA will fine one or both of the caddies. An outcome is expected by the end of next week.
The pair had to be separated during the incident, which was fuelled by an altercation between the caddies at the Star casino on Tuesday night.
Buchanan claimed Kelly had made taunts over Nitties' failure to crack the US PGA Tour but the blame game continued yesterday, with Leishman adamant his caddie was the victim.
"I don't think me or Matty have got anything to worry about," Leishman said. "I was there and [Kelly] didn't do anything. He stood there, copped what he got and didn't do anything apart from that. I was proud of him, to be honest."
Leishman was shocked by the incident but it clearly hasn't derailed his Open campaign.
He shot a respectable even-par 72 yesterday to remain at two under and progress to the weekend as Nitties was headed for an early exit after rounds of 77 and 71.
Nitties said the whole situation had caught him off guard.
"Really I don't know the whole concept of what and why and that sort of stuff," Nitties said. "I'm unbiased about it. I can't really say I'm on anyone's side. I don't know both stories but Grant is one of my best friends, we go way back and I know he's a great person."
Nitties denied there was a class divide between US-based Australian golfers and those who hadn't cracked the top tour.
"I didn't think so ... everyone usually gets on great," he said.
His heavyweight rivals stumbled as Marcus Fraser rode the momentum of his magical first-day hole-in-one all the way to the outright halfway lead yesterday.
With overnight leader John Senden struggling to a one-over 73 and English world No 4 Justin Rose (73) also faltering after a strong start, Fraser profited with his second consecutive 69.
Fraser's five birdies propelled the 34-year-old to six under for the championship.
He is one stroke ahead of Senden and fellow New South Welshman Brendan Jones (70).