LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Golf Channel removed Jim Gray from its coverage of the Northern Trust Open on Friday for his handling of Dustin Johnson’s penalty for nearly missing his tee time.
Johnson’s caddie, Bobby Brown, had the wrong tee time for the opening round, leading to a two-stroke penalty.
Brown said Gray approached Johnson on his way to the 14th tee to ask him why he was late to the tee. As Johnson was signing his card, Brown told Gray that the middle of the round was not the time to be asking such a question.
“Our aim is to provide the best possible golf coverage for our viewers. Anything else is a disservice,” Golf Channel spokesman Dan Higgins said in a statement. “In order not to provide further distraction, we’ve decided to remove Jim from this particular assignment.
The Golf Channel said Gray’s future would be an internal matter that is discussed at an appropriate time.
It was the second time in the last six months that Gray has become the subject of controversy for The Golf Channel.
He got into a finger-pointing argument with Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin in the press room of the PGA Championship. Gray had reported that Pavin told him Tiger Woods was going to be a captain’s pick, and Pavin denied saying it.
Pavin said Gray told him he was a “liar” during the argument. The Golf Channel said at the PGA that it stood 100 percent behind the accuracy of Gray’s reporting.
Gray is a contract worker for Golf Channel who typically works most of the West Coast events and majors.
Johnson nearly was disqualified Thursday. His caddie mixed up the starting time, thinking they teed off at 8:12 a.m. instead of 7:32 a.m., and they were on the practice range when they were announced on the tee. That’s a two-shot penalty, and Johnson then had five minutes to get to the tee box to avoid disqualification. He made it by just under 10 seconds.
According to Brown and Steve Stricker, who was in Johnson’s group, Gray was waiting on Johnson during the long walk from the 13th green to the 14th tee.
Gray later reported Johnson said he was misinformed on the tee time.
After the round, Brown took the blame for the mistake and then turned his frustration toward Gray while Johnson was signing his card for a 2-over 73. Gray walked up on the conversation and Brown said to him, “Dude, you can’t come up like that in the middle of the round. It had taken us 13 holes to get over that, and then you bring it up again.”
Gray was composed in debating the incident with Brown.
Johnson did not mention Gray during a brief interview with The Associated Press in the parking lot Thursday afternoon, but Stricker was visibly angry when discussing it after his round, and several other caddies were outraged when they heard about it.
The PGA Tour was not involved in the Golf Channel’s decision to remove Gray, spokesman Ty Votaw said.