LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP)—Golf writer Doug Ferguson won story of the year honors and national writer Eddie Pells garnered two awards in the annual writing contest for AP staffers judged by Associated Press Sports Editors at their winter meeting.
Ferguson won for his story on Augusta National inviting women to become members for the first time since the club was founded in 1932.
Pells won the Grimsley Award for outstanding body of work and also took best feature honors with a story on equestrian rider Boyd Martin, his horse Neville Bardors and their dreams of the London Olympics.
Other contest winners included sports writer Howard Fendrich, deadline writing, for his story on Usain Bolt running the anchor leg of the 4x100-meter relay at the London Olympics, capturing his third gold medal in three events. Fendrich also shared enterprise writing honors with national writers Nancy Armour and Martha Irvine for their story on long-term effects of NFL concussions, told through the perspective of Tony Dorsett and others.
Photo awards went to Mark J. Terrill, best portfolio; Daniel Ochoa de Olza, best sports action; and Alex Brandon, sports feature.
The Associated Press contest chair, Garry D. Howard, editor in chief of The Sporting News, praised Ferguson's Augusta story on the admission of Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore.
"Doug Ferguson remains one of my favorite writers and his piece on Augusta National finally admitting women took top honors for Story of the Year, based mainly on the strength of Ferguson's reporting and his touch," Howard said. "Every member of the committee, which included Phil Kaplan of the Knoxville News and Izzy Gould of Alabama Media Group, thought it was clearly the strongest piece in this category."
Pells' body of work included his Martin feature, a profile on Bolt and a takeout on Tim Tebow.
"Eddie Pells' entries in the Will Grimsley Body of Work category were tremendous, including his trek back to Kingston, Jamaica, to find out what makes Olympic champion Usain Bolt tick," Howard said. "His entry on Boyd Martin, a horseman who moved from Australia to the U.S. to further his Olympic dream, should be made into movie; it was that touching."
Fendrich, Armour and Irvine's enterprise efforts focused on the on-going concussion issue in the NFL. Judges praised their work for the variety of voices they included.
"The Hardest Hit, written by Armour, Fendrich and Irvine, was the epitome of great enterprise work and former Dallas Cowboys great Tony Dorsett's voice makes the story so impactful," Howard said. "It definitely gives everyone a clear picture on the dangers awaiting NFL players who retire with multiple injuries, including concussions."
Terrill, a photographer based in Los Angeles, won the AP's Thomas V. diLustro award for best portfolio with a package that included the Olympics, NBA, MLB, NHL, swimming and diving.
Brandon, based in Washington, D.C., captured the sports feature photo award with his shot of U.S. Marine Sgt. Zachary Stinson, a double amputee from Chambersburg, Pa., using his arms to snap to attention next to Team USA star Kobe Bryant for the playing of the national anthem before an Olympic exhibition basketball game against Brazil.
Madrid-based Ochoa de Olza won best action photo for his shot of a reveler being tossed by a Dolores Aguirre Yabarra ranch fighting bull during the running of the bulls at the San Fermin festival, in Pamplona, Spain. The judges unanimously said it was the No. 1 individual photo they reviewed and that the shot of "near death" jumped out at them.
Winners will be honored at the organization's annual convention in June in Detroit.