I recently got back from a week in my hometown, Tarentum, PA. Far from a quiet visit home, I spent 7 days shooting the 2016 US Open at the Oakmont Country Club for ESPN.com, one of the toughest golf courses in the country. I knew going in that the tournament would be unpredictable with the difficulty of the course, and I was only more sure of that after photographing the practice runs Monday through Wednesday. Then, on Thursday it rained about three inches, probably giving the golfers a false sense of optimism with the extra drag on the lightning-fast greens.
But as the course started to dry out, the game became more and more difficult every day. Some of the top ten players like Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, and Rory McIlroy didn’t even make the cut, let alone come close to winning it all. After the tournament, Jim Furyk told PGAtour.com, “Oakmont has a way to turn pars into bogeys and bogeys into doubles.”
“Rough Cut,” the photo essay I did for ESPN, clearly captures the players’ stress as they battle the crazy elements at Oakmont. For me, a photo that sticks out is the shot of Shane Lowry, his hands over his face. Earlier, he had been holding the lead by 3 strokes, and then started to fall behind. By the time he reached the 18th fairway, he had known for a while that he had lost. I took the picture of Lowry right after he putted in, and got the exact moment when he seemed to finally let go of all of the emotion he had been holding in.
Check out the photo essay at ESPN.com and take a look at the outtakes below: