Friday, 30 November 2018
2018 European Tour Photo Of The Year  (European Tour)
2018 European Tour Photo Of The Year (European Tour)

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They say a photo tells a thousand words. Well over the course of December we have 24,000 words to share with you thanks to the best photos of the season.

In an advent-style countdown, we'll be highlight the top 24 photos of the year from European Tour events. In addition to the photo themselves, we'll hear from each photographer about the story and situation captured in each photo.

This article will be updated each day until December 24th and you can also tune in via social media using the hashtag #ETPhotoOfTheYear. Get in touch and tell us what you think of each of the selections.

Number 24: "Fanling"

Photographer: Arep Kulal/Getty Images

"The photo was taken at the par-five third hole during the first round of the Hong Kong Open. It was all about the concept of many ‘firsts’ for me when I framed up that shot of Tommy Fleetwood teeing off. The Hong Kong Open was the first event of the 2018 European Tour season on the Race to Dubai and Fleetwood was the reigning Race to Dubai Champion. Another reason why I decided to take a photo of Fleetwood teeing off at the third hole was because the hole offered a very scenic view of Fanling in Hong Kong. I'm also very please with how the photo turned out because of the specific challenges on that hole. The area behind the tees box is extremely small and I have to ensure that I do not obstruct the swing of Fleetwood, or the other players, when they teeing off. I managed to balance on the wall behind the tee and frame the shot the way I wanted. Ensuring I was in quiet mode, I was able to shoot throughout Tommy's swing and then select this impact frame as the one I used. Choosing this specific frame gives an added sense of just how challenging and narrow this tee shot is."

Number 23: "Meeting your hero"

Photographer: Luke Walker/Getty Images 

"I took this shot at the British Masters in October. Justin Rose was the tournament host so getting a great image of him was extremely important. I know Justin is great with the public and especially kids. I saw this kid waiting for the players between holes so I found a spot and got low to be at his level and waited. It’s always great when you see an image and you are able to capture that moment/image."

Number 22: "Green on green"

Photographer: Warren Little/Getty Images

"This picture was taken on the 13th green ahead of the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Gary Player Country Club this year. I was looking around for preview images and as walking noticed something moving slightly in the rough near the green. This little guy was heading for the green and making a bee line passing the flag. Any movement I made would influence his movement so if I got too close would have changed it’s direction so I had to wait till the last minute. As he got close to the pin I had to get in position low down to capture the colourful chameleon but capturing in context to the golf event. So took the picture with quite a wide angle lens to help the creature stand out as it passed near the hole this gave an in context image of the scene. It took a while for the trek across the green but I can tell you the chameleon made it safely to the otherside, and I got my shot."

Number 21: "Golf from above"

Photographer: Pierre de la Vigne/Ready Prod

"This photo was taken by a drone photographer the week before the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National. "The angles you get from drones, especially in golf, are just incredible" said Jamie Kennedy, Ryder Cup Europe's Content Director. "We spent two days at the course before the event week, flying over holes, capturing content for broadcast, social media and hype montages to be used during the week. After taking a couple of shots like this one, looking directly down on greens, we discovered just how breathtaking Le Golf National is. The course was in flawless condition and these unique, different angles helped us share that story with fans in the lead up the matches."

Number 20: "Plugged"

Photographer: David Cannon/Getty Images

"This was the lie that Paul Dunne found after his second shot had come up just short on the par five 10th hole at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. To say he was a tad unlucky would be an understatement! The faces of those bunkers are very firm, like concrete, so for the ball to bury itself was pretty remarkable. His face told the story. The sequence of images of him trying to get a stance and eventually playing the shot are almost comical. I think he went on to miss the cut by only a shot or two. I took this picture from this angle because I felt it told the story of his rotten lie best. His stare at the ball and the fact I can just see a third of the ball from where I am. Funnily enough, I sat down with Paul's caddie later that day and he requested this photo for Paul’s favourite bar in Greystones back in Ireland. I'll need to visit one day and redeem a free pint!"

Number 19: "Moliwood"

Photographer: Jamie Squirel/Getty Images

"This photo was taken on the first day of the Ryder Cup. Clearly the week turned out incredibly for Tommy, Francesco and the European team but it wasn't all plain sailing. This shot was from the end of the morning session, moments after Molinari had just earned Europe's first point in a 3-1 session to the US team. That point prevented a morning whitewash and sparked a memorable partnership between these two. There was lots of shots of them from the week but I loved the feeling of this one, the expression, the fans as the back drop, the body language of Tommy and the clear bond between them both. It was just the start of what is now known as "Moliwood"."

Number 18: "Links Land"

Photographer: Jan Kruger/Getty Images

"I took this shot at the 2018 Irish Open at Ballyliffin. The course landscape was amazing and we were constantly looking for the right angle to showcase the land. The natural open space dictated the framing and composition of the image. I take a lot of photos of golfers and golf swings but what differentiate this picture from other golf pictures is that I decided to focus more on the space, natural surroundings and soft light that presented itself at that moment. The golfers are the secondary focus of the frame. It's actually Rory McIlroy teeing off but you don't need to know that as the shot is about the beauty of the terrain."

Number 17: "A Master At Work"

Photographer: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

"The driving range is always the first stop each morning of a Major. It's always crowded, so on this day, I was forced to walk toward the back of the spectator area because I couldn't get up to the front. As I walked by, I caught a glimpse of some light through a cutout in one of the metal rails. There are a series of cutouts with the Masters logo that run the length of the range on the fence that separates the golfer area from the spectator area. When I got close and looked through, I saw that it was former Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal at the side of the range. I framed him and his caddy within one of these cutouts to make this image. Its significance lies in the fact that the logo is instantly recognizable (even though it's actually backwards in this shot!) and framed within it is a former champion of the event. The fact that the logo is backwards adds a bit of tension to the image. Every time I look at it I wish it was the correct way, but that's exactly what makes me look again. It was a right place, right time photo."

Number 16: "Deja Vu"

Photographer: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

"This photograph was made during the trophy presentation immediately after Brooks Koepka won the PGA Championship, his second straight Major victory. I think we had six photographers on the green so I decided to stand off to the side and see if I could come up with something that was a little different. Watching the presentation I noticed how shiny the Wanamaker trophy was and how reflective it was. I zoomed in when Kopeka received the trophy to see if I can could get a nice photo of him, with his face reflecting on the trophy. I had followed him a lot during the tournament and you notice that he does not get very excited and even when he wins he is very gracious. So to me I wanted to show this graciousness in a way that was different than the standard pot shot. It's a very innocent but intimate at the same time because of this angle. It lets in on the story without being over the top and staged. I wanted it to feel like you could sense his emotion and capture a moment that wouldn't come across on TV or in other photos."

Number 15: "Allez, Allez, Allez!"

Photographer: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images 

"This was the walkway from the range to the first tee at Le Golf National. Passing over the fans, it was the last walk players and officials took before heading out onto the course. I remember seeing this angle earlier in the week, but it just didn’t work. The sun cast a shadow over half the wall, or there was too many people walking across the bridge so it felt a little messy. On Sunday, the stars aligned. The crowd saw Thomas walking up to the first tee and started chanting his name, he responded and raised his arm and I finally managed to get the image I had been after."

Number 14: "Mountain Golf"

Photographer: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images 

"This shot is from Switzerland and the sixth hole at Cran sur Sierre. I actually stood on the second fairway to capture this angle, using a longer lens to compress everything into the frame. It was taken relatively early but what makes it special is that there is light on both the golfer and the the flag. That was only possible once for the whole week because of the flag's position on the green. Every other day it would have been shaded by the shadow of the trees. The story it tells is simple, we are all familiar with the classic pictures from Crans Montana that show the mountains and water but I felt this picture brought together the element of the trees which actually feature on many holes and make the course a demanding, narrow challenge from the tee."

Number 13: "Bunker Art"

Photographer: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images 

"DLF Golf and Country Club is modern course in New Dehli and is surrounded by beauty. Nearly all the bunkers have this rippled construction that I had never seen before. Some of the bunkers are incredibly tall but what surprised me is that if a ball hits the face it just drops down and not ricochet. I chose this angle purely because of the light. I wanted to give people who have never seen these bunkers a sense of the ripples and what it's like to see them up close. It's amazing how beautiful, yet punishing, these areas of the course are."

Number 12: "Behind The Team"

Photographer: Andrew Reddington/Getty Images 

"This shot was from the first tee of the Ryder Cup on Saturday morning. The crowds were unlike anything we had seen at a Ryder Cup before and you were always on the look out for the best way to share that story. I was the dedicated photographer for the matches and was therefore on the tee to take official photos of the four players standing together on the tee. I took that photo and then had to rush out of the way so that the TV cameras could zoom in on the players. I ended up on this side of the tee and immediately spotted the fans with the oversized cut-outs of Rory and Sergio. They stood out from the crowd so clearly. Putting the focus of the frame on those fans and blurring out the players gave this photo a cool sense of the atmosphere that surrounded that first tee each morning. It captures the passion, the energy and the fun that Ryder Cup fans possess."

Number 11: "For The Win"

Photographer: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images 

"This was the moment Haotong Li won the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in January. The Sunday pin position at the Emirates Golf Club is often in a similar place on the large double green that it shares with the ninth hole. That helps us anticipate where the winning putt is likely to happen and where we need to get positioned in order to capture that emotional moment when a player secures victory. Haotong had been battling Rory McIlroy all day and the excitement was building all day, all the way to the 18th green. Li hit his approach to this point on the green and opened the door for a good angle of his putt. It meant I had to be on the fringe of the ninth green, some 30 yards away, and get in position quickly so not to disturb him as he prepared for the putt. Luckily for me, he holed it for birdie and his reaction was incredible. By taking several photos as the ball was in motion, I was able to get this one of the ball hanging on the lip of the hole and Li beginning to celebrate. Having both elements makes this a great picture."

Number 10: "An Italian Stroll"

Photographer: Andrew Redington/Getty Images 

"This was the 14th hole during the final round of the Italian at Gardagolf Country Club in the hills above Lake Garda. The subject is the eventual tournament winner Thorbjorn Olesen and his faithful caddie Dom Bott. The backdrop is what makes the picture. It was a beautiful setting. I had been working on this picture for a few days, even though it was a serious hike to get to that part of the course. I spotted the angle early in the week and was determined that I wanted to get the winner with this backdrop on the final day. Sometimes the best laid plans can be scuppered by tournament volunteers getting on the way or other distractions but this is shot is so clean and embodies the player-caddie relationship. It was a little more work than most shots we take but ultimately worth it."

Number 9: "Together"

Photographer: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images 

"The #GolfSixes are fast, furious and fun. With the addition of some of the Ladies European Tour’s biggest stars ‘the sixes’ got a whole lot more interesting. Georgia Hall and Charlie Hull versus Eddie Pepperell and Matt Wallace attracted a good bit of interest. With it being a team format I wanted to picture to show that aspect. Georgia Hall just rolled in a long putt and ‘walked it in’ for good measure. Eddie came over to give Georgia a high five and the angle was perfect. The shot showed the mutual respect between the teams and symmetry of the angle was a nice bonus!"

Number 8: "All Eyes On Rory"

Photographer: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images 

"We have amazing crowds at Wentworth every year for the #BMWPGA Championship and I was desperate to find a moment and an angle to show that. Using a mirrorless camera that has a silent shutter, a tall pole so I could hold the camera above the crowd, I found the perfect spot behind the 12th tee. With @RoryMcIlroy playing, and in contention, the crowds following him were amazing. I set up about 15 minutes before he arrived as the fans began to funnel in and surround the tee box. Then the whole place went silent, as he crushed his tee shot down the par five. It was a cool moment and presented a perfect situation for a photo like this."

Number 7: "Welcome To The Club"

Photographer: Patrick Smith/Getty Images 

"This was my first time documenting a Masters tournament. Our team had a specific plan about who would positioned where, during the jacket presentation. I come from a news, photo-journalist background so on any stage, be it news or sports, I am driven to document real candid moments - those that make viewers feel an emotion. When fans and players alike get to see an athlete let down their guard to be human, it’s a compelling moment that also holds historical value which is all so important - especially in sports. While I have no idea what was being discussed between the two champions, to me it tells the story of jubilation. In such a proper setting, being awarded the iconic green jacket, players are always very honourable and respectable. So being able to document that brief slice of real life, players even mimicking body language made it a special image from the day."

Number 6: "A Great Escape"

Photographer: David Cannon/Getty Images 

"This photograph of Rory McIlroy was taken in the final round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. Rory was playing in the final group with the eventual winner Haotong Li of China. It was a massive moment in the tournament as both players were tied with three holes to play. Rory missed the fairway right and I was ahead of the group and saw the kind of shot he was going to have to play so I moved ahead of his ball to this position. The angle gave a lovely perspective of where his ball was and how narrow a gap it was to play his shot through the trees. You have to balance the angle with not getting in a player's way but I was able to do both with this spot. Another factor was the way the sand was going to ‘explode’ upwards, which meant if I was lower down the sand would have blown all across his face ruining the picture. I was really pleased with the way the picture told the story. The crowd and their reaction really added to the image."

Number 5: "The First Tee"

Photographer: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images 

"There were so many different ways to capture the incredible grandstand around the first tee at the Ryder Cup but for me I wanted to shoot it from far away on a long lens to give the viewer an understanding of exactly how huge it was. There were almost 10,000 people crammed around the tee box and trying to capture that from nearby is pretty challenging. This is taken from near the fairway looking back up towards the tee with a mass of people and the players almost lost at the bottom. The angle makes it look like a wall of fans."

Number 4: "Watching Tiger"

Photographer: Andy Lyon/Getty Images 

“This shot was from the final round of the PGA Championship in August. I was on the fifth tee and I shot this frame from near the fourth green. I wasn't with the Tiger group but saw this scene when I was walking to the green and it just jumped at me. The crowd is always big following Tiger and it’s always fun and anxious following him. What made this such a nice picture to me is the person in the tree. It just explains the lengths that people go to see the greatest golfer ever. It spoke to me because that would be me in that tree if I was following him as a spectator. A lot of the photos that are special to me are the ones that I feel like I'm involved in it as well. It was the best picture I took this year. I photograph all sports and it’s fun to see great athletes and try to make pictures to show what kind of circus follows them around.”

Number 3: "Tommy, Tommy, Tommy!"

Photographer: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images 

"Victorious celebrations of the Ryder Cup. As the cup was secured on the 16th the crowd enveloped the course hoisting their heroes aloft. Tommy was enjoying every minute of it interacting with the chants and celebrations. In this situation it’s about being ready with a wide angle lens, sharpening your elbows and going with the flow. It's important to stay wide enough to capture the whole atmosphere. And take a lot of frames. You don't really know what you've got until you look back later on. This shot for me tells so much about the story of the week. Tommy, the course, the crowd, the chants, it was a lucky moment but one I'm extremely proud of."

Number 2: "The Champion Golfer"

Photographer: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images 

"At the finish of The Open Championship I was assigned the platform position on the 18th green which allowed me to photograph the winning moment with a clean background. I chose the angle based on where Molinari's putt was from. Knowing that if he made it, he would be facing me when he celebrated. Winning moments in any event are special but it's extra special in the Majors. This shot captured the very first moment Francesco Molinari knew he had won. He had been in the zone all day and was finally able to show his emotion. I think that is why I enjoy the photo. There is no screaming, just a gentleman behaving as such with his first major victory."

Number 1: "When It Sinks In"

Photographer: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images 

"This shot was from the trophy presentation on the 18th green at the Ryder. It's my favourite photo from the Ryder Cup. My brief for the week was to shoot more off-beat angles and I was looking for something of our team between the American players. This moment happened almost in slow motion. Just before the ceremony started, the teams arrived and lined up for the presentation of the Ryder Cup. The US players all stood in a line and I positioned myself behind them. Thomas was the first European to arrive and stood on his own for a moment or two before his team joined him. As if by fate, the moment seemed to hit Thomas and he put his head in his hands. I've covered Thomas for years and he rarely gets emotional. Almost never. That is what made this moment so special. For me it showed what it meant to him and what it meant to be part of that team. Having the US players in the foreground added to the story of the photo. As photographers we work hard to capture moments exactly like this one. I will remember this shot for a long, long time."

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