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|| News Item: Posted 2008-02-27

Observations from the 19th Hole
Chasing Tiger At The Match Play Championships

By Robert Beck, Sports Illustrated

Photo by Robert Beck / Sports Illustrated

Photo by Robert Beck / Sports Illustrated

Tiger Woods in action during the final day of the WGC Accenture Match Play Championships in Tucson, Arizona.
My best friend, Kohjiro Kinno/assistant extraordinaire, and I just completed five days of chasing Mr. Woods around 126 holes (more or less) at The Gallery at Dove Mountain for the Accenture Match Play Championship.

Where the crank is that? Why just down the road from Tucson in the town of Marana. (A side note: Tucson is the home to La Fuente (great Mexican food) and the No-Tell Motel where adult entertainment is included in the $29.95 per night rate.

The Double K and I were up early each morning on the weekend to catch Tiger on the range. Both days we fired, oh, about seven frames before Stevie told us to knock it off. While being denied after getting up so early is no fun, hearing Little Stevie blow gas at fellow caddies and golfers with suburb tone and volume is worth more than a few chuckles. The extra time we had before the first tee shot was spent eating a couple of bear claws and consuming three or four bottles of cranberry juice.

On to the course...Whata killer! Seven holes down an oversized wash then 11 up, up, up, uphill. This year the weather helped. Not too cold in the morning and not too hot through the afternoon. Good shoes and better socks were a must. Avoiding the cactus was an even more must. What? Anyways, the course does not lack for stunning backdrops (desert landscape filled with 103 varieties of trees and bushes with some type of thorn) and various cloud types blistered heaving blue skies over the weekend.

With Tiger folding the field, photo ops were plenty...If you could keep the 56 carts, 28 handheld camera pointers with their line draggers and associated microwave grillers, yardage readers, international radio types along with XM radio barkers, FBI agents, general security dropouts, police officers (one on a bike), two marshals over the age of 75 from every state in the union holding their hands up every time they saw someone who looked like a golfer, walking rules officials, various Dove Mountain clubbies in their white shirts and red ties AND the Accenture ad boards surrounding every tee box out of your backgrounds.

Our magazine now has us transmitting after our shoots and, for the first time, I had the thrill of listening to various other shooters (wire and newspaper types) yap about what they got, who has the better angle, what looks great and so on. Of course, there are some folks who don't say a thing...I mean about their own images. 'Made me think about how our jobs are the same but different.

Photo by Robert Beck / Sports Illustrated

Photo by Robert Beck / Sports Illustrated

Tiger Woods gets loose on the range during the final day of the WGC Accenture Match Play Championships in Tucson, Arizona.
Photographers, if they are going to be successful, have to know what their editor/client is looking for and do their damnedest to get that type of image first.... Then the rest is gravy. You have to know when you can go artsy or when you need the moment (sometimes they can be the same). Do you need to get every player in the can? 'Need to tell the whole story...course, crowd, weather? Some days take some real planning with a full field. 'Shooting a game story? Leaders only?

I saw a lot of great pictures on the screens in that room too. How come I wasn't there? Why wasn't I on that side? We've all done it. You can punch yourself ALL...DAY...LONG with that game. YOU ARE NOT GOING TO GET EVERY SHOT. You have to go with where your instincts tell you to go and stick with it. Sometimes it will pay off and sometimes it won't. You can have days where you'll get a lot of 'em and days where you won't. Saturday at the Match Play seemed like a great day for us. Everywhere we went we ended up with a nice image waving at us. The morning round on Sunday kicked us hard. The light was screaming and Tiger went red but it seemed like every shot was just a little off. That's when you have to keep grinding. You keep pushing on to try and turn the corner.

I have found that, more often than not, that grind will pay off. Not much unlike the game of golf. Some days those guys can stick a pin with their eyes closed. Other days they are in the cactus on every swing.

Every golf swing is not perfect. Every pitch is not a strike. Every pass is not completed. Don't expect to make every picture...Just try to.

(Robert Beck and his trusty sidekick and major domo Kojo, roam the country in search of great photographs and great times. He is a regular contributor to Sports Shooter. You can view his work on his member page: and at his personal website:

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