Jim Gray has been booted from Golf Channel’s coverage of the Northern Trust Open after triggering an(other) emotional confrontation with Dustin Johnson’s caddie Bobby Brown, according to CBSSports.com’s Steve Elling. Gray confronted Johnson on the back nine during live play in the first round at Riviera to question him about arriving late to his starting time and receiving a two-shot penalty, and then reported Johnson’s comments on GC’s pregame show.
Bobby Brown, Johnson’s caddie, was particularly upset about the interruption, which came on the back nine. As a general rule, reporters do not speak with players during live play unless the player initiates the discussion. Certainly in matters relating to more emotional issues, like rules issues or the gaffe that nearly got Johnson disqualified, that unwritten editorial tenet would doubly apply.
An agitated Brown profanely complained to reporters after the round and to Gray directly about the interruption. Playing partners Steve Stricker and D.A. Points were also said to angered by Gray’s decision to question Johnson during live play.
I saw Stricker at the range on Thursday afternoon, where a fellow reporter was waiting to speak with him. Stricker turned around and joked, “Are reporters allowed at the range?” I didn’t understand what he meant at the time, but I’m going to guess he was referring to the Gray incident.
Golf Channel issued a statement on Friday, saying, “Our focus is to provide the best possible golf coverage for our viewers. Anything else is a disservice. In order to avoid further distraction, we’ve decided to remove Jim from this particular assignment.”
Will Gray return to the network for future assignments? No comment, says Golf Channel. I wouldn’t be surprised (or mind) if we don’t see Gray’s mug going forward. This is Gray’s second strike in six months where he was involved in a heated argument with a player and/or player’s wife/caddie. Enough is enough. It’s one thing to confront a Ryder Cup captain after a press conference and it’s another to approach a player during a competitive round.
That’s like rule no. 1 in golf reporting — you don’t interrupt live play or spark an interview, let alone a conversation, unless a player speaks to you first. To chat up DJ about nearly getting disqualified is beyond inappropriate, which is something even the most novice golf reporter would have enough common sense to understand.