Being Ready “Before the moment” ensured Mark Pain was able to capture this extraordinary image:
Mail on Sunday photographer Mark Pain stood fast as Tiger Wood’s golf ball headed straight for him during Saturdays play at this years Ryder Cup held at Celtic Manor in Wales back in October.
Tiger Woods, the American world No 1, was partnering Steve Stricker in the fourball against Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher (European Team) at the Ryder Cup. Tiger’s second shot to the 18th was a little wayward and landed in the crowd to the right of the green. The usual funnel opened up so Tiger could see the green and play his third shot in from the area trampled by spectators, a chip onto the green. However, he duffed his third shot, and it didn’t make it to the green, he sent the ball directly towards Mark who was crouched at the feet of the watching spectators.
Its the sort of shot that Tiger hits perfectly 999 times out of a 1000
“Its the sort of shot that Tiger hits perfectly 999 times out of a 1000” says Mark, but not on this occassion. Milliseconds after Tiger struck the ball it hit the lens hood of Mark’s 24-70mm lens and ricocheted into trusty Nikon D3s body before hitting him in the chest rolling onto his Think Tank Speed Changer then falling to the ground and coming to rest at his feet.
Mark tells me that thankfully it didn’t hurt him as the camera took the sting out of the shot, however the glare form Tiger was something else. “He knew he’d hit a bad shot and I wasn’t in the way, but it gave him something to focus on I guess.”
Your shot has had some impressive claims made about it on the internet Mark, I’ve seen quotes about it being “instantly iconic” and “Tiger gives us the best golf shot ever.” Are you surprised how big a shot it became and how fast? “Yes, indeed. It’s amazing CBS News interviewed me live for about 4 minutes and the guy with the cigar in the crowd behind Tiger was flown over to the States to be interviewed on the Today show.”
Has your mobile phone calmed down yet? “Yes it has, it was crazy for a week or so after I took the picture and the Mail on Sunday article was published, it really is amazing how many times it’s listed on Google, its been used on so many other sites and blogs, it’s a shame they don’t pay for usage.”
What about other news or golf magazines? “Yes, I’ve had calls from as far afield as Japan and Brazil that want to use the picture, it really is a globally recognised image and at least the magazines pay. Sports Illustrated used the image over two pages as a magazine opener, which is pretty impressive. Golf Digest ran a nice piece in the US too. There is also a nice little piece in the winter issue of Nikon Pro magazine”
I see that you’ve put the image in question as the splash page on your website, has it increased traffic at all? “Yes it has, but I think that as the picture is on so many sources and my name that people have searched for “markpain.com” and come to the page that way as nobody seems to have hyperlinked it in anyway”
Can you tell me a bit more about how you set up for the shot? “It was a tough call as to which lens to use, the shot was at around 70mm, so I took the 300mm off the D3s and grabbed my 24-70mm out of my Lens Changer 50 so I had 24-70 on one body and the 70-200 on the other. Covering the bases in case we were moved back when Tiger set up. When Tiger hit the shot I kept the camera on him to see his reaction, little did I know that the ball was heading my way and thats how I got the shot! The picture of me moving away and Tiger glaring at me was shot by Matthew Harris who was obviously in a different spot.”
Which belt do you use your Speed Changer on Mark and what other Modular Components do you use? “I’ve got a Speed Belt with my Speed Changer in the middle to the front, I then have a Lens Changer 25 and a Lens Changer 50 which are really brilliant with the zip down extensions they cover most of the lenses I’ll ever need to carry. I also have a Lightening Fast for my flash and some spare batteries and just in case for anything else I have a Whip it Out.
The really really great thing about the system and especially at this years Ryder Cup as the weather was so wet and muddy is the rain covers that come free with each component, I’m certain it saved my kit and kept it working when others were having problems.”
How long have you been using Think Tank gear for Mark? “I guess I’ve had the Speed Belt and the pouches for 3 or 4 years now and of course I’ve got one of the Airport International roller cases which is superb and goes literally everywhere with me.
To be honest all the Think Tank bags do exactly what you need them to do, most of the guys who cover golf pretty much full time all use Think Tank, you can wear it all day and have no problems what so ever and as I said mines 3 or 4 years old and still going really strong.”