Golf Channel removes Jim Gray

LOS ANGELES -- Golf Channel reporter Jim Gray has been pulled from this weekend's assignment at the Northern Trust Open after an argument with Dustin Johnson's caddie following the first round Thursday at Riviera Country Club.

The network said in a statement that it was removing him from the coverage so as not to be a distraction.

Johnson's caddie, Bobby Brown, argued with Gray on Thursday in the scoring area, telling the veteran broadcaster that he should not have been discussing a rules incident with Johnson on the course during the round.

A four-time winner on the PGA Tour, Johnson was nearly disqualified and was assessed a two-stroke penalty because he was late for his first-round tee time. Gray spoke to Johnson about it later in the round, something that Brown and others in the group took issue with.

"Our aim is to provide the best possible golf coverage for our viewers," Golf Channel spokesman Dan Higgins said. "Anything else is a disservice. In order not to provide further distraction, we've decided to remove Jim from this particular assignment."

A similar move was made by Golf Channel last August at the PGA Championship, when Gray got into a heated argument with U.S. Ryder Cup team captain Corey Pavin.

Gray had reported that Pavin told him Tiger Woods was a lock to be picked for the team; Pavin denied doing so.

Gray, a freelancer reporter, was involved in ESPN's airing of LeBron James' publicly announced decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers last summer to play for the Miami Heat. Gray interviewed James during that broadcast.

Bob Harig covers golf for ESPN.com.