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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2001-04-30

Masterpiece
By Brad Mangin, Sports Shooter

Photo by Fred Vuich

Photo by Fred Vuich
"The phone hasn't stopped ringing in two weeks," said Fred Vuich. Ever since Vuich squeezed the shutter of his Mamiya 7 and captured Tiger Woods in mid-backswing on the 18th hole of the final round of The Masters there has been a lot of commotion around the Vuich house in Pittsburgh, PA.

You see, Vuich's picture became an instant classic after it was chosen to be the Sports Illustrated cover for the April 16th issue highlighting Tiger Woods winning his fourth straight major. Vuich's classic cover was beautiful and clean with only one word splashed across the top that said it all: "Masterpiece."

Vuich, a staff photographer for Golf Magazine, was covering his 12th Masters, but it was his first year as part of the SI team (Golf is now under the Time-AOL ownership umbrella). He was assigned by SI picture editor Matt Ginella to shoot the 16th green and 18th tee on the final day.

"After I shot Tiger and Mickelson on the 16th green I left all my stuff with my film runner and took my Mamiya 7 to the tower at 18. It was an overcast day but by 17 green the sun popped out around 6:45pm. The light was perfect. The TV person moved to the side of the teebox. I wanted to see Tiger's face- the only time you can see it is at the top of his backswing. I only made one frame and fortunately it worked. I shot the one frame of Tiger and then Mickelson got up to the left side and it didn't look as good...it wasn't a good picture." Vuich said.

Photo by
"I thought it would make a nice opener or a Leading Off. I shot the picture horizontal on Fujichrome Astia with my Mamiya 7 (6x7 format) and a 43mm lens. I shoot all of our course scenics with this camera. It's really easy to work with and it's so quiet. It's never a problem to shoot at the top of the backswing," Vuich added.

The day after the tournament ended, on Monday April 9, Vuich heard the good news from SI picture editor Matt Ginella. Ginella told him he had the cover. Ginella called Vuich on his cell phone around 6:30 PM while he was on assignment in Charlotte. Vuich asked Ginella if he was kidding. Ginella said he wouldn't kid about something like this. Ginella also told him that his picture looked like a painting and that everyone at the office loved it.

"I didn't see the cover till Thursday evening when I got home from my road trip and saw my subscription copy. I didn't have my computer on the road so I couldn't see it online. OnThursday morning I had an early morning shoot in Chapel Hill and tried to track it down but couldn't find it," Vuich concluded.

Neil Leifer was very impressed with the cover when he received his issue in the mail. "It stopped me," Leifer said. "It's one of those absolute classic photographs. It was done beautifully. The design was perfect," Leifer added.

Sports Illustrated golf picture editor Matt Ginella had this to say about Vuich's cover:

"This cover harkens back to the original SI cover of Eddie Matthews. If you think back over the last few years - when has the subject of the cover been 2 inches tall? More typical was the following week's portrait of Allen Iverson."

Photo by Mark Kaufmann

Photo by Mark Kaufmann
"When I was explaining Fred his role for the week, as the new guy on the team of SI guys covering the tournament - I explained our strategy for Sunday and the 18th hole. I was going to have Simon Bruty get to 18 green first, then John Biever and Al Tielemans - leaving Vuich at the 16th green and Robert Beck to follow Tiger's every shot. I told Fred, if he could get there, go to the photo stand at the 18th tee box (the last place anyone wants to be because you miss the winning putt react). Fred had absolutely no problem doing both 16 and 18 tee box. He is the ultimate team player, not to mention a great golf photographer."

"We rarely get letters to the Editor about pictures believe it or not - and even if we do it is a vary small amount - in the first week after the issue came out we got 14 - all with high praise for a "masterpiece.""

"The roll of film sent in by Vuich - (he came up with the plan of shooting the tee box with his Mamiya 7 after I told him that is where I would like him to go on Sunday) - had two frames. One of Mickelson and one of Tiger. Both were shot at the ideal moment - the top of the backswing. The frame of Mickelson pales in comparison. He is on the left side of the tee box in the shade - if you look closely - Tiger is in the middle of the tee box, the ball is in the middle of his stance and his shadow, the red shirt pops - the shaft of the club is bent - it is perfect. I give credit to the guys who make the ultimate cover decision - Bill Colson, Steve Hoffman and Steve Fine for not only running it - but not cluttering the cover with type."

"The four other photographers, Bruty, Beck, Tielemans and Biever couldn't have been more happy for Fred. He made a great picture and deserves every compliment he gets."

SI staff photographer Robert Beck added the following:

Photo by Brad Mangin

Photo by Brad Mangin
"I think that Fred's cover photo is one of the top five all-time in SI's history. And I can't even think of the other four. Heck, I would even put it up there as one of the top five pictures in sports history. It is timeless and historical. SI's art director, Steve Hoffman, must be credited as well for making the image stand alone with a minimum of type. Fred made the absolute best of his situation, which is what I believe all good photographers do. Sure, everyone would like to be up at the 18th green to get "the pump." But that was not Fred's job here."

"He had to catch everyone rolling through the 16th green and there was no way for him to make it up to the green from there. He made a smart, timely and, now, famous move. He should get a percentage of every Mamiya 7 sold from here on out. It is a picture everyone there wishes they had...and only one guy has it. The new King of Augusta...Fred Vuich."

The other day Vuich got a voice mail from someone who sounded VERY familiar. The voice said that he loved the cover and wanted to know if he could get a few copies. The voice didn't identify himself. The voice was Tiger Woods.

(Fred Vuich is a staff photographer for Golf Magazine.Vuich lives in Pittsburgh, PA and can be reached at: fvuich@golfonline.com.)


Related Email Addresses: 
Fred Vuich: fvuich@golfonline.com

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