Published April 19, 2011
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Dustin Johnson has decided to split up with his caddie, who was on the bag during two chances to win a major last year and was involved in the American star nearly missing his tee time at Riviera.
Johnson's agent described the split with Bobby Brown as mutual, and that it was not clear whether the move was permanent.
"They just decided to take a break for awhile," David Winkle of Hambric Sports Management said in an email.
Brown had been Johnson's caddie for three years and already was involved in some high-profile situations.
Johnson lost a three-shot lead in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach last summer and wound up with an 82, the highest final round by the leader at a U.S. Open in nearly 100 years. Two months later, Johnson didn't realize he was in a bunker at Whistling Straits and grounded his club on the 18th hole, a two-shot penalty that kept him out of a playoff.
At Riviera this year, Brown gave Johnson the wrong tee time, and he was penalized two shots for arriving late to the tee. Johnson was about 10 seconds away from disqualification.
Johnson defended his caddie at every turn, saying the responsibility ultimately was with the player. Those close to Johnson said the incidents had nothing to do with them parting ways.
Golf World first reported the split on its website.
Johnson, coming off a tie for 38th in the Masters, plays next week in South Korea in the Ballantine's Championship. Winkle said a friend who is "more than qualified" will be his caddie, and that he expects Johnson to give others a trial run before settling on a replacement.
"This isn't about finding a replacement as quickly as possible," Winkle said. "It's about finding the right person."
He already has been contacted by several potential replacements, which is no surprise. Johnson is considered one of golf's top young players, the first since Tiger Woods to go straight from college to win in each of his first three years on the PGA Tour.
Brown had been caddying for Eric Axley, and even though Axley had just won a PGA Tour event, left him when Johnson came calling. Johnson and Brown spent most of their time together off the course, and Brown is dating the twin sister of Johnson's girlfriend.
"There's no bad blood between him and me," Brown told Golf World. "We are very cool with each other and will remain very close. We're like brothers."