Matt Wallace apparently wanted to hit off the cart path.
His caddie, Samuel Bernard, wanted a drop.
And their conversation carried on for a while after the shot.
“He and Sam are having a deep discussion about it,” announcer Dan Hicks said on the NBC broadcast. “It doesn’t seem to be going too well.”
That’s as good of a way as any to describe a wild scene on Saturday on the 18th hole on the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort. During the third round of the Valspar Championship, Wallace hit his second shot, from the concrete cart path, then he and Bernard exchanged pleasantries when Wallace’s iron shot came up about 30 yards short of the hole.
As shown by NBC cameras, after the swing:
— Wallace looked down, started to walk and began shaking his head. He and Bernard started to talk. Bernard handed him a towel to clean off the iron.
— Wallace raised his right hand. Bernard wanted to keep moving. Wallace shouted. Part of those words included a visible “shut the f**k up.”
— Bernard took the club from Wallace. Bernard talked. Wallace then got in his face a bit. Bernard talked again. Wallace took off his golf glove.
— Bernard talked. Wallace shook his head. Both talked.
“Should have had them mic’d up,” analyst Paul Azinger said on the NBC broadcast.
Indeed. So what happened?
The dust-up apparently involved “flow.” Or lack thereof.
Afterward, NBC on-course reporter Cara Banks talked with both player and caddie. She said they had made peace. But on the second shot on 18, Wallace had wanted to hit off the cart path, which was where his ball had ended up after his tee shot. Bernard, though, wanted him to take a drop to the right of the path, which would have put him in a collection of grass and pine needles.
“I can confirm that the partnership is all well,” Banks said on NBC. “They will be back together tomorrow. Matt was simply frustrated after his bogey on 17 and hitting that errant drive on 18. He was frustrated that Sam questioned whether or not he should take a drop before that second shot.
“He felt he should just play it as it lies, as he did, and Sam questioning him interfered with his flow.”
From there, Wallace pitched on with his third shot, rolled in the putt and finished with a one-under 70. He’ll start Sunday at five-under, three shots back of leader Adam Schenk.
Notably, Wallace and Bernard were part of NBC’s mic’d-up segment earlier Saturday; Wallace noted that Bernard is the only French caddie on the PGA Tour. Wallace has also had at least one other televised confrontation with a caddie, too.
At the 2019 BMW International — at two points, according to viewers of the broadcast — Wallace exchanged words with then-caddie Dave McNeilly. A few weeks later, in an interview with the Independent, Wallace said he regretted it.
“The two times I’ve been in with a chance to win tournaments, I’ve reverted back to how I used to win tournaments and that was to be intense, pretty much too much over the top,” he said.
“I used to do that on my own, whereas now I’ve got a caddie, and stupidly I’ve probably blamed him, where I need to take full responsibility for what I did there — and I know that. It’s something I am working on.
“I’m not proud of how I dealt with that situation, and I have definitely addressed it and moved on.”