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

'Covering the Masters is a dichotomy for photographers'
By Mike Blake, Reuters

Photo by Shaun Best / Reuters

Photo by Shaun Best / Reuters

Tiger Woods wins the Masters.
Every year when we turn our clocks back one hour for daylight saving time I wish for two things. No playoff and No rain. That's because a few hours after setting the clocks in our house I hit the road for Atlanta, meet up with the rest of our Reuters crew and drive 2 and a half hours to Augusta.

Covering the Masters is a dichotomy for photographers. On the one hand you have this amazing canvas of light and color. On the other hand you have no access inside the ropes. I've been the Masters for over 10 years now and this dichotomy has become a nice change of pace from the "go bold or go home" wire service style. That said, I would never ever think of covering other tournaments (or as they pronounce it in Augusta: tuna mint) the same way.

Our crew this year consisted of Kevin Lamarque, ( Reuters Washington), Shaun Best (Reuters Montreal), Joe Skipper (Reuters Florida) Gary Hershorn (Big Kahuna editor) and myself. Hershorn and Skipper worked inside on the edit and, Shaun, Kevin and I covered the course. We load in Sunday.

I hit the grass on Monday this year wearing a brand new pair of Helly Hansen XP shoes sent to me by a friend at Helly Hansen in Seattle. From Monday to Thursday we cover the practice rounds for all our clients on the planet, were kept pretty busy matching up regional coverage for Asia, Europe, South America and so on.

The rain started on Thursday, the first round, and it's all pretty much a blur until we get to Sunday. On the final Day Shaun and Joe we arrived at the course at 6am to get in line to place a few chairs around the 18th green, Kevin, Gary and I stroll in at 730 am to cover the finish of the rain delayed 3rd round and then we all wait until 3pm for the last group to tee off the final round.

At the Masters you can almost guarantee every Sunday will come down to the turn at amen corner and the next 8 holes. The 12th is a par 3 that took out Greg Norman a few years back, the par 5 13th and 15th are reachable in 2 and eagle holes so a four stroke lead can be gone fast.

Photo by Mike Blake / Reuters

Photo by Mike Blake / Reuters

After three days of rain the Helly Hansen boots were doing their job.
Unlike most golf coverage where you follow the lead group for 18 holes we are constantly on our radios leap-frogging a few holes ahead to have time to work into a position. Sunday was easy in the respect that we really just had to worry about only one group, but the problem with that is you get huge crowds around every tee and greens become almost impossible to line up a golfer.

I was just getting up to the tower on the 18th when you could hear the roar of the crowd from the 16th where Tigers chip-in hung on the hole and dropped. More great pictures have been lost on 16 than any other hole and Tigers great shot was no exception.

The crowd surrounds the green 20 or 30 deep and you have to work your way in to the green …impossible … so you work your way to the sitting area and figure you have a great view, until the impossible happens and people jump up from their seats and take you out in a split second … it happened to Shaun. I think it happened to everyone because I have seen no Tiger reaction from there show up yet.

When DiMarco tied it up on the 18th the masses started to run down to the 10th green , reminiscent of Mike Weir's playoff two years ago. I was grabbing up all my gear and heading down the tower when Shaun radioed not to go…the rules had been changed and the playoff would be 18th again , then 10 , then 18 and so on.

The rest, as they say, is history … Tiger did his thing (I got his back) Kevin and Shaun had our angles covered and Shaun even made a nice kiss frame of Tiger with his wife after stepping off the 18th.

Photo by Mike Blake / Reuters

Photo by Mike Blake / Reuters

Tiger Woods wins the Masters and drives by Mike Blake after getting the green jacket.
From there we all rushed to the putting green to sit and waited as the sun slowly set, pulled out the flashes for the green jacket shot and then headed back to the press center.

At the conclusion of the Green jacket presentation Tiger Woods passes me on a golf cart as I walked down the first fairway to the press. Having just spent the last 7 days in a "Field of Dreams" kind of place where golf history continues to repeat its self and time seems to have stood still over the years I just feel relief. There are so many variables out there on the course as a photographer and each one of us have missed far more pictures than we care to talk about and yet the Masters continues to produce some of the most memorable golf pictures of our time.


(Mike Blake is a staff photographer with Reuters based in Southern California.)

Related Links:
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