Award-winning news & sports photographer Facundo Arrizabalaga (London, UK): “When my agency EPA (European Press photo Agency) informed me that I would cover golf at the Olympics, I knew that it was going to be fantastic. I had been very lucky to previously cover the Ryder Cup and the Open in Scotland, but I had no doubt that covering Olympic Golf in the Marapendi Reserve in Rio was going to be very special.
Golf can produce great images, but requires a huge amount of patience and determination. In golf, celebrations and disappointments come in small doses compared to other sports, but when they do it can be extraordinary. The great challenge in golf is that you not only have to be well prepared for the weather and the unpredictability of the game, but also to be willing to do a serious amount of walking, carrying your heavy equipment under the rain or the blazing heat.
The first two days are physically very demanding as you need to try to photograph many players from different countries that usually are far apart from each other across the course. It is long and arduous as they start at sunrise and finish at sunset. Golf almost never stops. One thing I have learned from my colleagues in Scotland: it is very important to save your energy, or whatever is left of it, for the final day.
On the Sunday, Rose, Stenson and Fraser were at the first tee at 10:39 am and I was determined to follow them every hole. I wanted to make sure I was going to be in the green before them, in order to pick the right position for that evasive picture. The game was tense and too close to call. It went all the way to the 18th hole without any dramatic or decisive photo moments. But, when Justin Rose hit a birdie in the final hole in front of a packed stand, he gave the photographers the picture we so anxiously had been waiting for – it was worth every penny.
In the end it was gold for Rose and silver for Stenson, an epic duel fought by two magnificent players. It has been a long wait for golf at the Olympics, taking 112 years to finally award the gold medal, but I hope many more will come. ”