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The Open For The Ages

The Greatest Photos at St Andrews Part 2


David Cannon

Jack Nicklaus waves goodbye to the home of golf, 2005

To celebrate The Open For The Ages, in association with HSBC, acclaimed golf photographer David Cannon has shared with us the greatest photos he has taken in Championships at St Andrews.

Over 40 years on from when he first took photographs at an Open, and 38 years after his first Championship taking photos professionally, Cannon has seen it all on a golf course.

His outstanding skills with a camera have ensured that his subjects, and their finest moments, will be immortalised forever.

In the second instalment of this two-part series, we take a look at three further photos he ranks among his favourites from Open Championships at the Old Course.

Tiger Woods, 2000 Open Championship
Tiger Woods St Andrews TOFTA

David Cannon has taken a host of awe-inspiring photos at the home of golf, and experienced some incredible action along the way.

In 1990 he was able to witness a majestic performance from Nick Faldo that secured the Claret Jug, while he saw Costantino Rocca hole one of the most iconic putts in Championship history five years later.

Nothing, however, had prepared him for the phenom at the turn of the millennium that was Tiger Woods.

“Tiger was a different world, wasn’t it" said Cannon. "I think that was midway when he got his four majors in a row. And he demolished the field. He demolished the field four weeks earlier at Pebble Beach too, so that was the peak of Tiger Woods in 2000.”

Tiger Woods St Andrews TOFTA

Tiger Woods celebrating his first Open victory in 2000 at St Andrews

Woods was ready to make history when he stood over a four-foot par putt on the 72nd hole to break the all-time major scoring record, and complete the career Grand Slam. Cannon knew he needed to find the perfect background.

"Getting the Old Tom Morris sign behind him in that picture was kind of lucky, but kind of planned if you know what I mean," he said.

The golfing guard had well and truly changed by the time Woods won his first Claret Jug, but the background of Cannon's favourite photo from The 129th Open paid suitable homage to the greats of the game and St Andrews.

Woods holed the putt and celebrated accordingly. The photo lives on as the moment not when Tiger introduced himself to the world, but established himself already as one of the greatest of all time, at the tender age of 24.

"As a golfer, my jaw has just dropped so many times with shots he’s hit," Cannon added. "You almost come to expect it all the time, and to see him win at The Masters last year was just jaw dropping too."

Jack Nicklaus, 2005 Open Championship
Jack Nicklaus waves goodbye to the home of golf, 2005

As he had done with Woods five years earlier, Cannon again captured an iconic moment at St Andrews with one of the game's true greats in 2005.

A retiring Jack Nicklaus, playing his last ever Open Championship, walked down the 18th fairway in the second round surrounded by huge crowds. As everyone tried to catch a glimpse of Nicklaus' retirement walk, Cannon was struggling to get a shot to match the moment.

"I was actually under pressure there because they only let a certain amount of photographers out there," he said, "And we had to pool it with other agencies and other outlets, so I had to make sure I got it right!

"And you never know with Jack what’s he going to do, how emotional he would be, but the fact that he did that photo and then went on to birdie the hole was just epic. The birdie made the photo even better, definitely.”

Jack's birdie on the 18th served as a fitting end to his glorious career, a career that Nicklaus waved goodbye to on the Swilcan Bridge in one of The Open's most powerful and emotive images.

Zach Johnson, 2015 Open Championship
Zach Johnson St Andrews TOFTA

In 2015, after winning The Open in dramatic style in a play-off, Zach Johnson graced the R&A clubhouse with the trophy.

Cannon took a picture of that moment, and he still considers it one of his favourite photos taken at St Andrews.

"I love the picture with Zach Johnson up in the secretary's office, on the balcony, looking back down the fairway, I love that photo," Cannon said.

"To be up there with an Open Champion after he’s just won a major is pretty special, isn’t it? To have the Open Champion, to be allowed to do it up there, it’s very special."

Cannon, who prioritises backgrounds as his strongest compositional consideration, certainly appreciates what The Old Course can offer in that regard.

"The Old Course at St Andrews is the hardest course on the Open Championship rota to take pictures on," he said, "but it still produces some of the greatest moments in the history of The Open Championship.

"The whole 18th fairway - 1st fairway area, with the clubhouse, is such an iconic place to shoot. You walk on those fairways, and I find myself thinking back to the 1880s, Old Tom Morris and how the game was played in those days, and actually it’s quite similar. It’s amazing!"

"I’d love to have taken a picture of Old Tom, or even Young Tom. Peter Thomson would have been another one who I’d have liked to take a photo of in their prime."

The Open For The Ages is in association with HSBC.