Ferguson wins writing awards; Terrill photo honors

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KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) -- Golf writer Doug Ferguson won two writing awards and Mark J. Terrill captured two for photos in the annual contest for AP staffers judged by the Associated Press Sports Editors at their winter meeting.

Ferguson won the Grimsley Award for outstanding body of work, as well as deadline writing.

His portfolio included stories about Rory McIlroy's record-breaking second round at the U.S. Open, Phil Michelson's anything-but-routine practice rounds and the final round of the Masters, which also won the deadline category.

"Doug Ferguson's mastery of the game of golf is quite evident. His accounts of the Masters and U.S. Open had great detail and depth," said Garry D. Howard, editor-in-chief of The Sporting News, who helped judge the AP entries. "And he writes with such clarity."

Other contest winners announced Thursday included columnist Tim Dahlberg, story of the year, for his homage to boxer Joe Frazier, who died last November; Phoenix sports writer John Marshall, enterprise, for the living legacy of NFL star-turned-soldier Pat Tillman; and Boston sports writer Jimmy Golen, feature, for the fight by NHL scout Mark Bavis' family for accountability after he died in the 9/11 hijackings.

Dahlberg's piece captured not only the heavyweight's personality and life but focused on the biggest night of his career -- when he became the first man to beat Muhammad Ali in the Fight of the Century at Madison Square Garden.

Finishing behind Dahlberg were Howard Fendrich and Ben Walker, each winning honorable mention for story of the year. Fendrich was recognized for his story on Roger Federer's victory over Novak Djokovic at the French Open, while Walker was honored for his coverage of the seventh game of the World Series.

Terrill, based in Los Angeles, won best portfolio and best action photo, and Alabama's Dave Martin, best feature photo.

Terrill captured the Thomas V. diLustro award for a package of work that included boxer Christy Martin, Los Angeles Clippers star Blake Griffin, tennis player Kim Clijsters, the Shane Mosley-Manny Pacquiao welterweight bout in Las Vegas, the Texas Rangers winning the American League Championship Series, the San Jose Sharks and moguls at the freestyle skiing world championships.

David J. Phillip and Amy Sancetta received honorable mention in the portfolio category.

Terrill's action photo caught a stunning sunset while North Carolina forward John Henson tried to block a shot by Michigan State center Adreian Payne during the first half of the Carrier Classic aboard the USS Carl Vinson in Coronado, Calif.

Misha Japaridze and Marcio Sanchez received honorable mention.

Martin, based in Montgomery, won feature for a photo of the bald eagle Spirit, who flies over Jordan-Hare Stadium before Auburn home football games.

"The detail on each person's face is a true moment in time," said John Devine, an assistant sports editor at The Miami Herald, who helped judge the entries. "The excitement on some fans' faces versus the fear of some to be so close to such a majestic animal is priceless."

Matthias Schrader and Matt Dunham received honorable mention.

Roger Simmons, Tribune Company director of digital content for the East Coast, also judged the AP photo entries. Tallahassee Democrat sports editor Jim Lamar and Orlando-based editor and consultant Bill Speros assisted Howard with the AP writing awards.

Marshall's enterprise piece focused on the public's ongoing response to Tillman's call to action, adding to his legacy with their own good deeds and accomplishments.

"John Marshall's ability to take me to seven different places to bring into perspective the legacy of Pat Tillman was a must-read enterprise piece," Howard said.

Steve Wade, for a story on hooliganism in Argentine soccer, and Fendrich, for a piece on NFL players' reluctance to report concussions even after changes in league policy, won honorable mentions for enterprise.

Golen's feature was about the Bavis family's long fight for a public-record explanation of how airline security failed on Sept. 11, demanding someone take responsibility for his death. The Los Angeles Kings scout died on United Flight 175.

"I felt the emotions of Mark Bavis' family, battling for 10 years to get answers and hold United Airlines accountable," Howard said. "To me, that's what journalism is all about."

Honorable mention for features went to columnist John Leicester, for a story on McIlroy's roots in Northern Ireland, and Ralph D. Russo, for a piece on the daily life of paralyzed Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand; for deadline writing, Paul Newberry (Indianapolis 500) and Marshall (the crash that killed Dan Wheldon) were cited.

Winners will be honored at the organization's annual convention in June in Chicago.