As darkness starts to fall after a 90-minute weather delay, Martin Kaymer tees off at the 18th hole.
It was nice to be back in the saddle again on the PGA Tour last weekend, at a tournament and a place I hadn’t seen in a couple of years–The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Jacksonville. Through a combination of editorial budget attrition and my own conscious desire to get off the road a little more and concentrate on some other things, I’ve been cutting back on tournament golf of late in favor of some commercial/advertising and portrait work, as well as devoting some time to a significant personal project, and in a way I find that it’s making the time that I do spend shooting editorial golf a lot more productive–and enjoyable. What once was a workaday routine now has an element of freshness to it, and while I was always appreciative for the work back in the days when I covered 20-25 tournaments a year, the constant travel and long days can get to be a grind, with physical and mental exhaustion not out of the question many weeks. Cutting back (this year I have 12 events on my schedule) has really allowed me to take a fresh look at those tournaments I do cover, and to view them with an element of enthusiasm and excitement that no small amount of introspection had shown to have been waning over the past few years. In short, it’s nice to have the opportunity to step away–and come back refreshed when the opportunity presents itself.
Jordan Spieth hits his tee shot at the 7th hole during Sunday's final round.
Some fans are otherwise occupied as Jordan Spieth signs autographs after round 3 on Saturday afternoon.
Jordan Spieth speaks to the media following the first round on Thursday afternoon.
Despite missing the cut by one, Phil Mickelson sticks around to sign autographs after his second round on Friday afternoon.
Adam Scott tees off at the 17th hole on Friday morning during the second round.
Speaking of the (in)famous 17th hole at Sawgrass, my assignment on Saturday was to spend all day there. S.I.’s golf picture editor, Miriam Marseu, and I discussed things that we could do to change things up a little bit, and since Saturday is usually a “dead day” when it comes to live coverage (at least when you’re putting out a weekly magazine that really needs pictures of the winner from Sunday), we figured that might be the ideal time to change gears. I found myself on the first media shuttle to the course at 6 a.m., and on station in an empty grandstand behind the green at about 6:30, ready to document a day in the life of one of the most iconic holes in pro golf.
Sunrise over the 17th green at 6:45 on Saturday morning.
First on the scene: brothers John and Pete Jansen claim their spot in the front row just after 7 a.m. and have the scene recorded for posterity.
At 7:15 in the morning there are exactly two seats in the shade in the grandstand, and Judy Wooten of Virginia Beach, whose tickets were a mother's day present from her son, has staked her claim on them.
Greenskeeper Moises Gonzales mows the green prior to the start of play.
Greenskeeper John Dunn cleans up the the players' path to the green on 17.
Greenskeeper Joe Hulon Jr. (left) brought his father, Joe Hulon Sr., out to the course to spend the day. with him. Here, they wait to cut the hole location at the 17th green.
Just after 10:30, NBC cameraman Brian Phraner heads to his 'office,' a tiny camera platform in the lake fronting the green, where he'll stay for the next 8 hours.
Freshly painted for the day, more than a few players would have to avail themselves of this spot after wayward tee shots.
Midway through the third round, 17 is abuzz with activity.
Trey Smith, 5, takes in the action in the afternoon; his two year-old sister, Addison, isn't quite as interested.
Rose Keyes, who has been a marshal at 17 for the past 16 years, hands out candy to young fans along the rope line. Kids wait here for players to pass in the hope that one might toss a ball their way.'This is my way of keeping them in line,' she says.
Six year-old Isaac Layow gets ready to catch a ball thrown by Martin Kaymer at the 17th hole.
For only the second year, roving vendors like Bob Viggiano were permitted to sell beer on the hillside on 17...
...which may have helped cause a few logistical problems when it came to litter control...
...not to mention a few other complications.
The whole mess has to get cleaned up somehow; a volunteer picks up trash at the end of the day.
The last group has just gone through, and it's time to head for home.
…and with that, we get back to the action on the course from the week…
Jordan Spieth tees off at the first hole to start off the final round.
Fans watch Martin Kaymer and Jordan Spieth putt at the fourth green on Sunday afternoon.
Matt Jones plays out of a bunker at the 15th hole during Friday's second round.
Briny Baird plays out of a bunker at the 11th hole during Thursday's first round.
Martin Laird soends some time on the practice putting green Friday morning.
Sang Moon Bae tees off at the 13th hole during round two on Friday morning.
Adam Scott plays his third shot at the par-five 11th on Friday.
Martin Kaymer sinks a birdie putt at the 11th hole on Sunday.
With the TPC Sawgrass clubhouse as a backdrop, Martin Kaymer tees off at the 3rd hole during th efinal round.
After a long day (literally and figuratively), Martin Kaymer hoists the champion's trophy on Sunday night.
Technical notes for those so inclined and/or interested:
All images were made with one of two systems; for the majority of my action work I use Canon 1DX cameras and the newest, latest, greatest Canon 70-200mm f2.8L IS-II lens, as well as my old standby, an older-than-dirt 400mm f2.8L-II that is the sharpest piece of Canon glass I have ever owned and will continue to use until one of us ceases to be able to function anymore.
If it isn’t “straight” action, is in black-and-white, or is from the 17th hole this week, then it was made with a Leica M240 and one of these lenses: A 21mm Elmarit-M Aspheric, 35mm Summilux-M Aspheric, non-aspheric 50mm Summilux-M, or a 75mm Summilux-M.