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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2005-04-30

'Tiger gave us all a chance on 18'
By Darren Carroll, Golf Digest

Photo by Stephen Szurlej / Golf Digest

Photo by Stephen Szurlej / Golf Digest

Nobody came close to making the picture that Golf Digest staff photographer Steve Szurlej made when Woods sank his miraculous, 90-degree turning, gravity-defying birdie chip shot on the 16th hole on Sunday.
I was a happy camper as I walked into the press center following the playoff. After all, Tiger had spun around and looked right at me. He pumped his fist, mouth agape, screaming at the top of his lungs as the winning putt dropped into the cup on the first playoff hole.

It all happened so fast and I was still out of breath having walked briskly up the hill at 18 not once, but twice, that I don't remember much else. I do remember nervously chimping, though, zooming in on a frame to check focus. It was sharp, and I let out a deep breath.

As I ascended the steps in the main press area to drop my cards off with Golf Digest photo editor Matt Ginella, I knew I had made a nice frame; thought it might even be good enough for the cover of Golf World, which is Digest's weekly sibling.

Then I noticed something strange. Clustered around Matt was a group of Golf Digest writers and editors, all staring intently at a photo on his laptop screen. That never happens. But this time it did and with good reason.

Which leads me to my memorable moment from this year's Masters: Walking into the press room and seeing displayed on Matt's laptop, the best golf picture I've ever seen. Just as it had those writers and editors before me, it stopped me dead in my tracks.

Photo by Darren Carroll

Photo by Darren Carroll
Let's face it: Tiger gave us all a chance on 18. I made a nice frame. About 20 feet to my left, so did Al Tielemans from S.I. Farther down the line, so did the AP's Elise Amendola. We all hustled to get to our positions, we all made the right call as to how we were going to shoot it, and we all captured Tiger's windmill celebration in all its glory.

But nobody-and I mean nobody-came close to making the picture that Golf Digest staff photographer Steve Szurlej made when Woods sank his miraculous, 90-degree turning, gravity-defying birdie chip shot on the16th hole on Sunday.

Take your pick: Timing, lens choice, composition, light quality, light direction, positioning, emotion, foreground elements, background context, historical significance, winning moment, a sense of place, whatever. This picture has everything-and just as significantly, it was made in what is possibly the most challenging working atmosphere for still photographers in all of sport. Steve went to a spot that no one would otherwise dream of going to, and made a frame that the rest of us can only dream of making.

I was at the sixteenth green, as well-with the wrong lens, in the wrong spot, with the wrong light, you name it. Things like that happen at Augusta, where you can't go inside the ropes, and thus have to pick your spots and plot a strategy ahead of time, and hope for the best. But I take great consolation in the fact that 50 years from now,

I'll honestly be able to tell my grandkids that I was there, at the sixteenth green, when the greatest shot in Masters history was made. And I won't necessarily be talking about Tiger's chip-in, either.


(Darren Carroll is an Austin, TX-based freelancer who regularly covers the PGA Tour for Golf Digest, Sports Illustrated, and Golf World.)

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Carroll's member page

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