In what was supposed to be a nice relaxing week off turned into a few days of following the number one golfer in the world, Tiger Woods, as he made his return to competition after eight months recovering from a knee surgery following his amazing victory in the US Open in Torrey Pines that I had the pleasure of shooting. Since I have only shot five days of golf in my life I decided to go shoot on the practice day to try and get acclimated to a sport I am a newbie at.

The course was located in Marana, Arizona (about 101 miles from my house). The event was called the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Dove Mountain.

Rumor was that Tiger would do his practice round at about 6 am, so I got out there at 5:20am. Fun!

After getting my credentials and setting up in the media room I went out to find Tiger.

It was still dark outside but they had lights on the putting green as well as the driving range. In my mind I hoped to produce a dramatically lit shot of Tiger warming up in the darkness.

First I looked at the putting green.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 5000iso, f2.8, 1/30th

No Tiger….

Went over to the driving range to see if he was there.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/80th

No Tiger.

With nothing to do I resorted to a shadow self portrait to prove I was indeed geared up and ready to shoot well before sunrise.

Finally over an hour after getting out there and waiting Tiger and his caddie Steve Williams walked from the clubhouse to the driving range.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 800iso, f10, 1/250th

The mass of media on the driving range was crazy. It was media everywhere. 

In the below photo if you look on the bottom right you see me in the white shirt shoulder to shoulder with numerous other shooters.

Photo by Chris Morrison

With my position directly behind Tiger I underexposed by a few stops to take advantage of the nice morning sky with colorful clouds.

Nikon D3, 70-200mm, 320iso, f5, 1/500th

After a few minutes of driving range time Tiger and his caddie headed out on the course.

Nikon D3, 70-200mm, 640iso, f5, 1/400th

The morning light was awesome and allowed for me to shoot a few nice featurish portraits of Tiger.

Nikon D3, 600mm, 1000iso, f4, 1/1600th

Nikon D3, 600mm, 1000iso, f4, 1/5000th

Golf was the perfect time for me to use my Canon G10 for something other than pictures out and about with my friends. With its silent shutter, 14 megapixel and full manual mode it would be perfect to use as my backswing camera. Anyone who knows golf knows you can get your gear thrown in a lake if your camera makes a sound during Tigers backswing so I made sure to test the camera out in my hotel room the night prior to ensure all sounds were turned off. Everything was totally silent so I gave it a shot.

Canon G10, 200iso, f6.3, 1/320th

Since Tiger was the first player on course it allowed me to get some cool wide shots of him and his caddie walking the empty spectacular looking desert course.

Nikon D3, 70-200mm, 640iso, f5, 1/2500th

The early morning light helped me get an awesome shot of Tiger as he hit out of a bunker directly towards me. 

Nikon D3, 600mm, 1000iso, f6.3, 1/4000th

The below shot is without a doubt my favorite of the weekend. Killer light, clean background and it looks like Tiger is looking directly at me.

Nikon D3, 600mm, 1000iso, f6.3, 1/4000th

As with any sporting event I shoot I am always looking for ways to incorporate any local feeling elements. Obviously the best way to illustrate Arizona desert is to have a cactus in the shot. So I did just that.

Nikon D3, 600mm, 1000iso, f6.3, 1/3200th

I tried another backswing shot because I liked the background. Too bad the sun had risen high enough by this point that the light wasn’t very nice.

Canon G10, 400iso, f3.2, 1/2000th

As Tiger and Steve walked along a lake to the green I walked way in close to try and get a nice shot of them with the lake reflecting the mountains. Looked like a freaking post card as I shot it.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 500iso, f7.1, 1/500th

Below Tiger dumps rocks from his shoe in the middle of a fairway.

Nikon D3, 600mm, 1000iso, f6.3, 1/3200th

I liked the light on the below photo as Tiger walked past me off a green.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 500iso, f5.6, 1/3200th

As Tiger and Steve walked down a fairway towards a green I noticed the nice line of fans on the rolling horizon so I made sure to incorporate them in the photo.

Nikon D3, 70-200mm, 640iso, f5, 1/2500th

Early in the day I half jokingly told fellow shooter Chris Morrison to get a pic of me with Tiger to put on my facebook page. As luck would have it he got one, although I don’t recall telling Chris to take a pic of me with a stupid expression on my face. Oh well.

Photo by Chris Morrison

On one of the tee offs during the practice round I noticed the sun directly in my shot so instead of trying to move I simply incorporated it in the shot and laid down in the rocks behind a small bush and underexposed the shot by a few stops.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 200iso, f8, 1/1250th

The pace Tiger was going through the course was too much for me to follow the entire time so I peeled off and headed back to the media room to transmit some photos.

Just as I finished transmitting about 25 pics Tiger went into the tent next door for his post round press conference. It had taken Tiger well under 3 hours to do his 18 holes.

Nikon D3, 70-200mm, 800iso, f4, 1/250th

I positioned myself as behind the podium as I could to shoot a wide shot in an attempt to illustrate the ridiculous crowd of media. Below is as good as I could get.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 320iso, f2.8, 1/160th

The next day was the first round of the tournament. This would be Tigers official return so there was sure to be a huge crowd of media with Tiger. Boy was that an understatement. Look below to see the train of media following Tiger around the course.

Nikon D3, 24-70mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/2000th

Nikon D3, 24-70mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/1000th

Tiger lines himself up for a shot.

Nikon D3, 600mm, 320iso, f5.6, 1/1000th

Below is a photo with a crappy exposure that I turned black & white (what every photographer does in an attempt to be “artsy” although the real reason is they screwed up their exposure or white balance and B&W was the only way to “save” it)

Nikon D3, 600mm, 320iso, f5.6, 1/1250th

On the fifth tee I laid down in the gravel to add a cactus in the foreground and underexposed by a few stops after Tiger hit his tee shot.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 320iso, f6.3, 1/2500th

On that same hole I got a good sequence of Tiger blasting out of a bunker.

Nikon D3, 600mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/1000th

After his shot he struck a good magazine cover looking pose.

Nikon D3, 600mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/1000th

Towards the end of his match the light was getting much better. The below shot of him teeing off on the sixteenth green gave me a nice shadow across one eye along with a nice clean background to go with it.

Nikon D3, 600mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/2500th

Tiger Woods (right) looks on as Brendan Jones attempts to make a putt on the 16th hole.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 320iso, f5.6, 1/1600th

Moments later Jones was congratulating Woods on his seemingly easy first round victory.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 320iso, f5.6, 1/1600th

And from there Tiger and his caddie were put into a van and whisked back to the clubhouse.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 250iso, f2.8, 1/400th

That concludes my two days of stalking Tiger in his comeback tournament. I feel I am getting closer at understanding how to shoot golf so next time out should be fun…..whenever that will be.

Posted in Desert, Golf, Me, Scenic, Sports   | 7 Comments

7 responses to “Tiger makes his return with a whimper not a roar”

  1. Ariel Bravy says:

    Cool stuff, Mark. The B&W comment cracked me up because it’s totally true. The “magazine cover” shot looks like he had a reflector on him filling the shadows.

  2. Chris says:

    I knew the media coverage was going to be insane but the amount of people in that train is unbelievable. I watched a little bit on the golf channel and they even had 2 or 3 commercials dedicated to Tiger being back. Great shots Mark!

  3. Kyle Pochek says:

    Hey mark once again great stuff i really like the light you got on shot of tiger hitting our of the bunker with his blue shirt. The green and the blue really make the colors pop in the photo. Keep up the great work.


  4. Jamie says:

    nice shots. you make golf look interesting!

  5. Dude. These shots will be worth a lot of money some day. Great work. I cannot believe all the paps following him around. I love your pap shots. Classic!

  6. Tim O says:

    5th day shooting golf — you must be a natural. VERY unique style of capturing the essence of the event — well done!

    @ Ariel — I bet the Sand trap acted like a HUGE reflector — I watched each swing of Tigers two matches — that sand was pretty bright looking on TV..

  7. Tommy Naccarato says:

    Here I’m like bragging to all of my golf friends, about how great of a photographer this guy that shoots drag racing really is, and viola! Now you doing Golf!

    Great stuff!

Leave a Reply

Check out my Facebook page devoted my photography where I routinely share my favorite photos from each shoot as well as favorite photos from the past. Click the below banner to check it out. Be sure to "like" the page so you can be kept up to date on all the events I am doing!