Whoa, this news caught me off guard a bit even though perhaps it shouldn’t have. Many would argue that Dustin Johnson should have fired bagman Bobby Brown long ago — there were slip-ups that Brown took the hit for, like last year’s US Open collapse at Pebble Beach, the bunker debacle at Whistling and the near DQ for a missed tee time at this year’s Northern Trust Open. But according to those inside the ropes, the pair were a perfect match (because even if Brown had tried to tell him to slow down at the US Open or not hit a shot left-handed, Dustin would have still done it if he wanted to). Well, in somewhat of a surprise, DJ and Brown have parted ways after three years of working together. David Winkle, DJ’s agent, told the AP he’s not sure whether the split is only temporary. When DJ tees it up in South Korea next week, he’ll take a friend who is a qualified caddie to loop for him. Winkle added that DJ is in no rush to find a permanent replacement.
Golf Digest‘s Tim Rosaforte provides more insider details of the split and reports Brown initiated the conversation:
“This is part of the game and we both understand that,” Brown said Tuesday.
Johnson, a native of Myrtle Beach, S.C., is not playing in this week’s Heritage in Hilton Head, S.C. David Winkle, Johnson’s agent, said the breakup was “mutual,” adding, “I guess only time will tell if their break proves to be temporary or permanent.”
Word is out and Johnson has received the expected overtures. He recently played a round at the Bears Club with Dan Quinn, who split time with Ricci Roberts caddying for Ernie Els in 2010. “This isn’t about finding a replacement as quickly as possible,” Winkle said in an email. “It’s about finding the right person for the long term. More than likely, Dustin will have a trial run with a few different guys before making any decisions. Just as with any player/caddy relationship, it’s not just about experience and caddying skills, but also about chemistry.”
Brown and Johnson had chemistry, maybe too much. At 48, Brown said he has foot surgery scheduled, an 18-year-old son that he wants to spend more time with and an impending move to Charleston, S.C. He was caddying for Eric Axley before moving to Johnson’s bag three seasons ago, and eventually hopes to return to tour caddying.
“There’s no bad blood between [Dustin] and me,” Brown said. “We are very cool with each other and will remain very close. We’re like brothers.”
So I guess Dustin and Bobby are on a “break,” but that’s a nice way of saying “things aren’t working out” or “we need space,” which usually lead to permanent splits.
Think DJ will have a problem find a replacement? Doubtful. I’m pretty sure a high percentage of caddies would dump their player in a heartbeat for the opportunity to loop for a rising star.