Jim Gray should learn to report the story – not become it

For the second time since August, Jim Gray has found himself in the center of controversy involving professional golf.

In August of 2010, he got into a heated exchange with last year’s U.S. Ryder Cup team captain Corey Pavin, calling him a lair after he insisted that Pavin had told him Tiger Woods would be a shoe-in to make the team. Pavin refuted Gray’s report and the two exchanged words, at which point Gray shouted, “You’re going down!”

His most recent incident came at this weekend’s Northern Trust Open. Golfer Dustin Johnson was assessed a two-stroke penalty but avoided disqualification after he was late for his tee time on Thursday morning. Johnson’s caddy, Bobby Brown, took responsibility for the mistake and then became enraged when Gray decided to question Johnson during live action. After the round was complete, Brown and Gray reportedly got into a heated, profanity-laced argument.

Now, some will say that Gray was just doing his job but he could have waited to question Johnson until after the round was over. The penalty had been assessed and the round had already started, so most journalists would have probably waited before questioning the golfer about what happened.

Not wanting him or the situation to become a further distraction, the Golf Channel removed Gray from this weekend’s coverage. It was a smart move considering that Gray has taken it upon himself (whether purposely or not) to become the story. When you’re getting into multiple incidents with the people you’re supposed to be covering, that’s a problem.

Gray has been around long enough to know that he shouldn’t be a nuisance and yet that’s what he’s become.

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PGA shares in blame for Dustin Johnson’s penalty

KOHLER, WI - AUGUST 15: Dustin Johnson watches his second shot on the 18th hole during the final round of the 92nd PGA Championship on the Straits Course at Whistling Straits on August 15, 2010 in Kohler, Wisconsin. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The PGA likes to boast that the course at Whistling Straits has over 1,000 unique bunkers.

Of course, only 300 of them look like actual bunkers.

That’s because spectators usually trample on and mat down the other 700-plus sand traps. If a golfer were to hit their ball in one of these bunkers, he may have a hard time determining whether or not he was standing in a trap or the grounds at Woodstock.

And actually, Dustin Johnson did hit his ball into one of these traps yesterday at the 2010 PGA Championship and it cost him the opportunity to win a Major.

On the 72nd hole, Johnson was assessed a 2-stroke penalty for grounding his club in one of the traps that had been stepped on, walked on and who-knows-what-else-on throughout the course of the day. He wound up finishing tied for 5th as a result of the ruling, instead of playing in a three-way playoff with Martin Kaymer and Bubba Watson. (Kaymer eventually won the event.)

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The implosion of Dustin Johnson

When Dustin Johnson rested his head on his pillow Saturday night, he had a three-stroke lead over Graeme McDowell heading into the fourth and final round at the U.S. Open.

When he went to rest his head on his pillow last night, he wanted to punt it off the roof of his home, along with his golf clubs, his golf shoes and maybe even his caddy. That’s because Johnson completely imploded during the final round on Sunday, giving way for his playing partner McDowell to earn his first professional win in the United States. McDowell also became the first European to win the U.S. Open since England’s Tony Jacklin won at Hazeltine in 1970.

But back to Johnson. He dominated Pebble Beach on Saturday while shooting a 5-under par. He converted a par-4 on the 4th hole when he hit the green with an iron off the tee, then buried an eagle putt. He also birdied the 6th, 7th, 11th, 17th and 18th holes to take a three-stoke lead heading into the final round.

Then he woke up on Sunday and completely forgot how to play. He kicked things off with a triple-bogey and double-bogey on the 2nd and 3rd holes. By the time he reached the back nine, he had completely fallen off the leaderboard and wound up shooting an 82.

Granted, I would set a course on fire and tip over golf carts for an 82. But for a professional golfer, an 82 is a day to forget. In fact, this was one of the greatest collapses in major championship history, akin to Greg Norman’s disastrous performance in the 1996 Masters when he shot a 78 to erase a 6-shot lead. Even the announcers couldn’t believe how poorly Johnson was playing.

Nevertheless, give credit to McDowell for not imploding himself and taking advantage of Johnson’s demise. Unfortunately for McDowell, people might remember Johnson’s epic collapse more than they remember the day the 30-year-old from Northern Ireland become the first European in 40 years to capture America’s national championship.

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