Golf Channel reporter Jim Gray, who got in hot water last fall after engaging in a heated exchange with Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin, has been removed from further network coverage at this week's PGA Tour event in Los Angeles after precipitating another emotional incident.
Gray, a free-lance reporter who long has been known for his bold reportorial style, was benched Friday by the network after players and caddies in Dustin Johnson's threesome complained after Gray questioned Johnson during live play in the first round of the Northern Trust Open.
Johnson arrived late for his tee time Thursday morning and was penalized two shots, a story that became a headline during the first round. Gray spoke briefly with Johnson during the middle of his round and asked questions about why he was late to the tee, then reported Johnson's remarks on the network'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.
The network issued a formal statement Friday: "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."
The network had no comment on Gray's long-term future and declined to make Gray available for comment.