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Buick Open at Warwick Hills - coverage from Friday's round (8/09/02), featuring the Tiger Woods, Mike Weir and Mark O'Meara group.

These guys are good! Actually, they are more than that. Anyone who has had the pleasure of attending a professional tournament has to be in awe, not only of the ball striking ability of players on the PGA Tour - but also of the way they conduct themselves under the pressure and scrutiny of the press and viewing public. How about hitting out of a "shoot", with the gallery f2002 Buick Openorming a line of humanity on both sides, eager to inch in as close to the action as is possible? Can you imagine the concentration necessary in setting up for a shot, blocking out all the faces peering into your viewing line, and being constantly aware that photographers are zooming in, anxious for the perfect picture - sometimes ignoring the possibility that they may disrupt a golfer's shot routine? We have seen this time and again - especially during instances with Tiger Woods - who has demonstrated the uncanny knack to stop in mid-swing when an unscrupulous photographer ignores proper procedure and etiquette. This behavior is akin to failing to replace a divot, rake a green side sand trap, fix a ball mark on the green - or driving up too close to the putting surface (or even on the putting surface) with a beer in hand. Etiquette is a fine part of the game - and one that needs our constant regard. Two observations at the 2002 Buick Open - 1) Most golfing fans and members of the media are pretty well disciplined when following PGA play - 2) A few folks can spoil it for others. We need to conduct ourselves (and remind playing partners and acquaintances to likewise do so) in a way that upholds the traditions and etiquette of what many of us feel is the greatest game on earth!

My attempt to provide coverage on the play of the trio of Tiger, Mike Weir and Mark O'Meara had its moments - sometimes humorous and at times frustrating. I arrived early for the 12:54 PM tee time, to find Phil Mickelson's group approaching the 18th green. Phil is not only a fine player, but is also one of the premier ambassadors for the game - always finding time to work with the media, sign autographs, and do his part to promote the integrity of the game. I will always look to photograph him at a tournament - whether he is winning or losing - class guy!

2002 Buick Open
Mickelson narrowly misses this birdie putt on 18
2002 Buick Open

Mickelson's press conference

Mike Weir

 Mike Weir putting for birdie on number nine


Mike WeirNext up - attempting to find good locations to take some nice photographs - particularly of Tiger and Mike TiggerWeir together...You know USA/Canada  Sparky/Tigger - that sort of thing…  Tigger is a big fan of Mike Weir - the top player in Canada. Their styles are similar in that they are both left handed. You could say they are very much alike. Also Tigger is one letter away from being Tiger. But he is much easier to photograph!

Trying to follow Tiger's group is like playing craps - just roll the dice and hope for the best. Security is tight - and rightly so. One could argue that he is the most popular man on earth. This is unquestionably true at any golf tournament he plays in. Taking pictures is a privilege afforded to members of the media, who must apply first, and sign forms acknowledging proper etiquette and procedures. Perhaps due to past indiscretions by photographers, and out of concern for the inevitable, security around Tiger is acutely aware of anyone with a camera in hand - so much so that an atmosphere of paranoia exists. This led to my camera being confiscated at the 2nd tee by overzealous security personnel. Only media with the proper credentials are permitted to carry a camera and to take photographs. I had the proper credentials - he did not see them. After the initial shock, I was able to go through the proper channels to retrieve it (4 holes later). The folks who work at the Buick Open are volunteers, mostly from Warwick Hills and surrounding clubs - and are generally courteous and helpful - which certainly was the case here. I had a good laugh (yeah right) with the marshals and officials who helped me to get the camera back - great people! I was torn between being pissed that the security guy did not give me a chance to show him my media bracelet, and with enjoying the company of the officials who were trying to rectify the situation. Ok - so no harm no foul. Back to the pics…

Tiger deserves all the security he can get. It is a fine line to walk - to be accessible to the public, yet retain a semblance of a personal life - and at least to be able to hit the ball without being disrupted. Throughout the day, I found it easy to take pictures anywhere on the course, of any other group. Marshals and security jumped in front of me countless times when trying to photograph Tiger's group - taking a little too long to recognize that I was authorized to take these photographs - lost many good shots this way…goes with the territory, I guess. Anyway - here is what we got…

Tiger Woods

Tiger's par putt on nine

Mike Weir

Finally - Mike and Tiger 

Tiger Woods

Tiger sinks his 5-foot eagle on 16

Beautiful follow through by Mike Weir on the 13th fairway

The eagle Tiger made on number 16 Friday was one of the greatest feats in golf I have personally witnessed. Tiger drove well into the rough to the right of the fairway off the 16th tee. With little room for error, he crushed the highest 245-yard two-iron I have ever seen, which somehow avoided the trees on the right, and landed softly 5 feet from the cup. We all hear about it, and watch on TV - it is something to see in person - even better than my eagle at Metro Beach last summer, which also was a two iron (from 105 yards).

Mike Weir

 Weir narrowly misses a birdie putt on 16

Tiger Woods

After a great approach, Tiger misses a 4 foot-birdie putt on 18 - finishing with a 63

Tiger and Donna Caponi

Tiger interview with Donna Caponi - former LPGA Tour Player 

Thanks to Al Abrams and the folks at the Buick Open - yeah - even you Mr. Security Guard!

Next in line for our coverage - the US Amateur at Oakland Hills beginning 8/19, and The Bell Canadian Open in Early September.


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