Our expert golf tipster Jamie Worsley is red hot right now, with wins and places galore in recent weeks. Here, he has his usual comprehensive US Open preview, as well as four selections. We will also have specials, first round leader and in play pieces through the week.

US Open 2023 Tips

  • 6 pts Scottie Scheffler Win Only – 7/1 
  • 2 pts Cameron Smith each way (1/5 – 8 places) – 25/1 
  • 1.5 pts Hideki Matsuyama each way (1/5 – 8 places) – 35/1 
  • 1.5 pts Bryson DeChambeau each way (1/5 – 8 places) – 40/1

With the much-queried and shocking nature of last week’s announced merger between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf, it’s been a testing and tumultuous week in the world of golf. 

However, I’m hoping the media can allow us to put all of that to the back of our minds this week (unlikely as that is), as we arrive in Los Angeles for what looks to be a mouth-watering 123rd edition of the US Open, at the unique Los Angeles Country Club.  

Tournament History

Established in 1895 – at which Englishman Horace Rawlins won at Newport Country Club, Rhode Island – the US Open was the second of golf’s four most prestigious events to make its entrance and has taken place every year since, excluding during the two world wars. 

The most successful players during this time – on four wins apiece – are: Willie Anderson (1901, 1903, 1904, 1905), Bob Jones (1923, 1926, 1929, 1930), Ben Hogan (1948, 1950, 1951, 1953), and most recently Jack Nicklaus (1962, 1967, 1972, 1980).  

There are a further two players on three wins each: Hale Irwin (1974, 1979, 1990) and Tiger Woods (2000, 2002, 2008). Whilst amongst a long list of two-time winners are the names of Walter Hagen (1914, 1919), Lee Trevino (1968, 1971), Ernie Els (1994, 1997) and Brooks Koepka (2017, 2018). 

This is traditionally the most challenging of the four majors – possessing an average winning score of -6.3 over the last ten renewals – and rarely reaches a winning score of double-digits under par. Rory McIlroy (2011, Congressional) and Brooks Koepka (2017, Erin Hill) hold the tournament record winning score on -16, with McIlroy’s eight-stroke success particularly impressive.  

However, you would be hard-pressed to find a more extraordinary performance than Tiger Woods’ at Pebble Beach in 2000. Not only was he the only player under par at the close of play there, he did so with an incredible 12-under-par winning score, a whole fifteen shots ahead of Ernie Els and Miguel Angel Jimenez in 2nd. Providing us with the record for not just the highest winning margin in US Open history but in major tournament history; a performance considered by many to be the greatest of all time. 

There was no such demolition job last year at Brookline. As Matt Fitzpatrick made his first professional win in the U.S a pretty special one, with a one-stroke win – thanks to that superb approach on his 72nd hole from the bunker – over Scottie Scheffler and Will Zalatoris, at the same venue he won the US Amateur almost a decade earlier. 

That debut major title for the Englishman was the 14th time in the last 18 renewals of the US Open in which we’ve had a first-time major winner and there’s a host of quality operators hoping to achieve that same feat this week in L.A. 

The Course

The US Open returns to California for the 15th time this week, though it will be the first time that the George C. Thomas designed Los Angeles Country Club (North) will take up hosting duties. 

The 1927 design was restored back to Thomas’ original design in 2010, by the team of Gil Hanse, Jim Wagner and Geoff Shackelford. They re-established the fairway contours and bunkers, built new greens and ridded the course of any non-native vegetation. 

Despite this being the first time the course has hosted the US Open – or any major for that matter – it does have a rich history of golf being played here. It hosted five renewals of the Los Angeles Open (currently the Genesis Invitational) from 1926- 1940; the 1930 Women’s Amateur, the 1954 U.S Junior Amateur and most recently the 2017 Walker Cup, in which a U.S team that included Scottie Scheffler, Collin Morikawa and Will Zalatoris made light work of their GB&I counterparts in a 19-7 victory. 

The course will be setup to play as a par 70, measuring 7423 yards, though due to the abundance of tee positions, that yardage will vary from day to day, potentially significantly so. In typical Thomas fashion, the holes alternate from decent birdie chances to “par is a good score”, hole-by-hole. 

We kick off with a pretty good birdie chance on the 590-yard par 5 1st, one of three par 5s on the course along with the 537-yard 8th and the 623-yard 14th (the longest hole on the course). This birdie opportunity is instantly followed by the near-500-yard par 4 2nd; a hole which could instantly negate anything you may have gained on hole 1. 

This is one six par 4s that measure at over 480 yards; four of which come over your final six holes. These include what looks like a brutal closing trio of the mammoth 542-yard 16th, the 520-yard 17th and the 492-yard 18th.  

Though as with the rest of the course, there is no dearth of scoring opportunities on the other par 4s, with the remaining four all likely to yield birdies. Most notable of which is the drivable 330-yard 6th. 

The par 3s are largely challenging, with, on paper, the 284-yard 7th and 290-yard 11th looking particularly difficult. Though again, they are both bordered either side by scoring opportunities, with the drivable par 4 and shortest par 5 either side of 7; whilst two of the shorter par 4s come directly before and after the 11th hole. 

The theme continues into the quirky 124-yard 15th (which can and will likely play at sub 100 yards over the week); a hole that is preceded by the lengthiest par 5 and followed by those three closing monster par 4s. 

The unique and exciting layout is compounded by the course itself, which is beautifully balanced. Aspects which look designed in your favour, such as the incredibly generous fairways, are full of danger should you be even a modicum off-line. They will get fiery as the week progresses, and many have severe right-to-left/left-to-right slopes on them, often into the danger that awaits in the shape of large, penal fairway bunkers which encroach on the fairways; bermudagrass rough and a barranca (essentially a deep, dry hazard) that traverses much of the course. Additionally, finding the incorrect side of the vast fairways brings about more problems, with your angle into the bentgrass greens making hitting them nigh-on impossible. 

There are elevation changes throughout, both uphill and downhill, many which correlate directly with the length of hole you play. Some of the longer holes won’t play quite as long due to being significantly downhill, whilst some of the shorter holes require you to hit uphill, often forcing you to hit blind tee/approach shots. 

Much like the fairways, the heavily sloped greens (which will be intended to play as a speedy 13 on the stimpmeter) are pretty generous in size, though will be by no means easy to hit. They are predominantly elevated, protected by imposing, deep bunkers which regularly start 20-30 yards short of the green.  

There are also steep run-offs and false fronts on most, which will see your ball trundling not just marginally off the green but 30+ yards away; in addition, that barranca comes into play, fronting various greens and the bermudagrass rough looks at its most thick around the putting surfaces. 

This looks a very exciting US Open course, and I can’t wait to see it in action, but what will it take to be successful at Los Angeles Country Club this week? 

The Stats

Key Stats: 

  • Greens-in-Regulation 
  • SG: Off-the-Tee 
  • SG: Approach 
  • Proximity 200+ yards 
  • SG: Around-the-Greens 
  • Scrambling 
  • SG: Putting (Bentgrass) 
  • Bounce Back Percentage 
  • Bogey Avoidance 

Though course styles vary year-on-year, we know exactly what we get with the US Open, and that is generally the toughest test in golf on one of the firmest courses they’ll play all year; LA CC looks to be of no exception in this regard. 

GIR & OTT combo looks vital 

On average, the US Open ranks as the most challenging event on the schedule in GIR percentage, scrambling and putting, whilst it is often the most penal event for missing fairways. With this, there are few areas of your game in which you’re able to get away with subpar performances, though the most prevalent stats that make up a US Open winner – at least over the last ten renewals – are simple greens-in-regulation and what you do off-the-tee. 

This combination worked wonders for Matt Fitzpatrick last year, as he ranked 1st in GIR and 2nd OTT, whilst a year earlier Jon Rahm won his first major title at Torrey Pines, ranking 3rd in GIR and 5th OTT. 

Bryson DeChambeau was 1st in GIR and 2nd OTT when winning in 2020; Gary Woodland (2019 winner) and Brooks Koepka (2018 winner) ranked top 5 in GIR and top 25 OTT; Koepka then ranking 1st in GIR and 2nd OTT in the first of his wins in 2017. 

We’re not blessed with strokes-gained data for the individual events prior to 2017, though Dustin Johnson in 2016, Jordan Spieth in 2015, Martin Kaymer in 2014 and Justin Rose in 2013 all ranked inside the top 12 players on the PGA Tour with driver when winning, whilst each ranked no worse than 18th in GIR the week of the event. 

Long irons will prove important 

There isn’t a week goes by where I don’t feel the need to lean on strong approach players; something in which the US Open is not immune and though the greens this week look pretty large in places, precision iron-play will be needed to access the tucked pins likely to be setup on many holes. 

Each of the last six winners has ranked 11th or better in approach the week they won, with Bryson in 2020 and Koepka in 2018 both ranking 1st. Further to this, each of the four winners prior to that were amongst the top 50 iron players on the PGA Tour at time of winning, with Justin Rose a particularly excellent iron player, ranking 2nd in 2013. 

In addition, with the three par 3s measuring over 200 yards, as well as the six lengthy par 4s – of which four are over 500 yards – and the par 5s, I believe we should particularly favour players who excel in approach play from 200+ yards. 

A sharp short-game is a must  

Due to the difficulties around this course tee-to-green, greens are bound to be missed and with some devilishly tough up and downs, quality around-the-greens will need to be exercised. 

This is not something that is exclusive just to this week’s venue, as a good short-game performance is often a prerequisite to success in the US Open. 

Fitzpatrick led the field around-the-greens when winning last year and DeChambeau was 3rd in 2020; Woodland in 2019, DJ in 2016 and Kaymer in 2014 all ranked 1st in scrambling; Spieth in 2015 ranked 2nd 

Additionally, though putting is a much less decisive stat in these events than T2G quality, proven experience on firm, fast bentgrass greens can be nothing short of a positive. 

Bouncebackability as important as avoiding bogeys 

Avoiding bogeys is often seen as one of the most important factors of these tougher tournaments. Even though I do believe that to be somewhat true this week, I think the way this course sets up – with the scoring opportunities immediately following a tougher scoring hole and vice versa – means that players will get plenty of opportunity to respond in a positive manner to a mishap on the previous hole, as opposed to some major venues which seem designed to just beat you up hole after hole.  

Therefore I’m keen to not just side with players who do well in avoiding bogeys but also – and perhaps more so – those who display an ability to bounce back quickly from a mistake. 

US Open Form Trends 

  • Matt Fitzpatrick’s win last year made him the first player since Graeme McDowell in 2010 to win the US Open despite not having a prior PGA Tour win. 
  • The last thirteen winners had recorded a US Open top 25 before winning; six of the last ten had finished top 10. 
  • Each of the last ten US Open winners had finished 6th or better in a major previously. 
  • Just three of the last ten winners had won a tournament that year before winning the US Open. 
  • Nine of the last ten winners had a finish of 8th or better in their four starts prior to winning; six of them a top 5. 
  • Only one player in the last ten years (Kaymer in 2014) has won this event having not played golf for more than two weeks. 

Correlating Events (Courses)

There are a number of courses that have proven to be a good guide to potential future US Open champions, though two stand out above the rest: the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village and The Masters at Augusta National. 

Of the last ten US Open winners, eight have finished 4th or better in the Memorial Tournament; of which three (Jon Rahm, Bryson DeChambeau and Justin Rose) have tasted victory at Muirfield Village. 

This is almost as common when we look at The Masters, with five of those last ten winners having finished 2nd or better at Augusta, which includes three winners: Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson. 

Not just form-ties but as firm, fast courses, with undulating bentgrass greens, wide fairways and plenty of elevation changes, the two courses look a particularly good match for this week’s challenge. 

In addition to this, whilst you could make a case for the Thomas designed Riviera, or other tough venues such as Quail Hollow, I decided on the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill and the Houston Open at Memorial Park Golf Course. 

Both are challenging events on courses that play firm and fast, with generous fairways and large sloped greens. Additionally, that unusual (for L.A) bermudagrass turfing around much of this week’s venue ties in with both, as does the thickness of the rough and we’ve seen multiple major champions perform at both events. Particularly Bay Hill, with five of the last ten US Open winners having recorded a top 5 there. 

The Weather

Conditions look ideal at Los Angeles Country Club this week. The sun is set to shine every day and though warm it shouldn’t be anything too severe. With little more than a gentle breeze currently forecast, this firm golf course will have to provide all of the defence. 

The Field

This is an Open in the truest sense of the world, with the 156-man field not just made up of some of the best players on the planet who earn their way in via exemptions, but to those who get her via the qualifiers. Which had a record 10,187 entries this year and culminated in final qualifying events all over the US, as well as in England, Japan and Canada. 

Scottie Scheffler is our world #1 this week, producing some of the best tee-to-green golf in recent memory and will look a formidable player to beat if he finds just an ounce of improvement on the greens; joined in the top 3 – as ever it seems – by Jon Rahm at #2 and Rory McIlroy at #3. 

The quartet of Patrick Cantlay, in-form Viktor Hovland, Xander Schauffele and Max Homa all come next, searching for their first major wins; whilst a trio of major winners: Matt Fitzpatrick, Cameron Smith and Jordan Spieth, round out the top 10.  

Brooks Koepka will be hoping to continue his excellent 2023 major record this week, off in search of major win #6, whilst Justin Thomas and Collin Morikawa will be eager to fly in under the radar and claim a third major title. 

Sergio Garcia was the undoubted headline grabber at the qualifying events, getting in via the Dallas qualifier to tee it up in his 24th US Open. Other notables include current #2 and former #1 amateur Gordon Sargent, one of forty-six debutants in attendance; along with fellow top-class amateur, Michael Thorbjornsen, 2009 Open Champion Stewart Cink and there’s a debut major appearance for 43-year-old Asian Tour regular, Berry Henson. 

Selections

Scottie Scheffler heads the betting at 7/1 and Jon Rahm comes next at 9/1; with Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka joint-third-favourite at 11s. 

Just behind them is Patrick Cantlay at 14/1, who I was very close to backing here. However, there are just some events where you have to bite the bullet and with the insane quality of Scottie Scheffler’s tee-to-green game recently – that contributed to him rating by far and away the most likely winner in this field in my own and no doubt many models – I simply could not leave him out here, and he goes in as this week’s headline selection.  

The form of the world #1 this year speaks for itself. In thirteen starts in 2023, Scheffler has finished no worse than 12th and hit the top 5 on eight occasions – including has last four events on the spin –  recording two victories in the Phoenix Open and in THE PLAYERS Championship. All of which has been achieved whilst predominantly struggling on the greens.  

Scheffler compensates for those putting struggles with some of the most impressive tee-to-green golf in memory. He’s the top-ranked player on tour T2G this year, gaining +2.75 strokes a round and is almost one stroke clear of the next best, Jon Rahm. This is something that is enhanced further when looking at most recent form, in which over his last fifty rounds he has gained +3.3 strokes T2G, which is 1.2 strokes ahead of the next best PGA Tour player, Patrick Cantlay.  

The ball-striking in particular has been uber impressive, as Scheffler ranks 1st on tour this season in greens-in-regulation, off-the-tee and in approach. He’s been excellent around-the-greens too, ranking 6th and the strength of this T2G game sees him rank 1st in bogey avoidance and 3rd in bounce back. An irresistible profile for this week’s challenge and if he finds even the tiniest amount of improvement on the greens, he should win this and comfortably so. 

We know he has the major credentials from his Masters win last year, whilst he also finished 2nd to Matt Fitzpatrick in the US Open a few months later and has added a 3rd in this year’s PGA Championship to his ever-growing major resume. 

That Masters win acts as a strong piece of correlating form, as does his win in last year’s Arnold Palmer Invitational; whilst he’s also recorded a 2nd in Houston and 3rd at Muirfield Village. 

I trusted my gut with Rahm at Augusta, and though Scheffler is a touch shorter here than the Spaniard was in Georgia, I have the same feeling about his chances. I will be incredibly surprised if he isn’t strongly involved at the business end on Sunday, especially if he does find a little progress with the putter.  

Cameron Smith has been in good form of late, including finishing 9th in the PGA Championship two starts ago and though lacking a little with the driver, he has the creativity and short-game skills to go well this week. 

Over his last four starts in the LIV Series, Smith has recorded finishes of 4th, 7th, 2nd and 11th. Form that has been backed up when we’ve seen him in the majors alongside the other tours, as he finished a solid 34th at Augusta before that 9th at Oakhill a month or so ago. 

Unfortunately, we’re not blessed with overly detailed stats from LIV, though his game has looked in good shape in both of those major appearances.  

The putter led his 34th at The Masters, where he ranked 9th on those speedy bentgrass greens. The same club was also the star at Oakhill, as he ranked as the 2nd-best putter in the field; however, his iron game took a big jump, ranking 21st in approach whilst he was much sharper around the greens, ranking 5th in scrambling and 13th ATG. Hopefully he can find further improvement in these areas this week. 

Smith ticks the box for major form, not just with his Open win at St Andrews last year but additionally, he’s finished top 5 at Augusta three times, including a runner-up finish in 2020 and has a 4th in the US Open in 2015. 

The Augusta form is particularly attractive, as it enables a player who struggles with driver to rely on his natural shot-making ability. I expect it to be a similar story this week and if he can control the driver somewhat well on these huge fairways, Smith can be a big player at LA CC. 

Hideki Matsuyama had a disappointing collapse on the Saturday of the Memorial Tournament when in possession of a commanding lead. He struggled again on the Sunday, but the overall performance was another positive one amongst a consistent run of form and he looks to be bubbling nicely for a big performance this week. 

Barring a couple of missed cuts in a row at the Genesis Invitational and Arnold Palmer Invitational, Hideki has been in pretty solid form all year and arrives this week off he back of five top 30 performances in a row. The best of which – and indeed his best performances of the year so far – is his 5th at THE PLAYERS Championship behind Scottie Scheffler. 

His approach play has looked strong, seeing the Japanese star rank 30th this season, a ranking which we can upgrade when looking at his most recent performances, as he ranks 13th over the last twenty rounds. 

Matsuyama’s short-game has been typically sharp too, as he ranks 6th in scrambling and 8th ATG; whilst his top twenty ranking in bogey avoidance should come well in handy this week. 

He has an impressive major record, the best of which is his Masters win in 2021. In addition, he’s finished top 10 in the US Open three times, including a 4th last year and a best of 2nd in 2017; a record which is enhanced by multiple top 5s in the PGA Championship. 

His ability on championship tests with bentgrass greens is further on show with his win at Memorial in 2014, whilst he’s also finished 2nd in Houston. 

Matsuyama’s Masters win came a little out of the blue and with his form coming into this week more progressive than meets the eye, I’m taking him to contend for a second major win in California. 

I’m going to sign off with 2020 US Open winner, Bryson DeChambeau. He’d shown some promise before an excellent 4th place finish at the PGA Championship two starts ago and maintaining some level of form in Washington on his following start, he looks well priced against less major-proven types for another big performance this week. 

DeChambeau’s year – as with most of his time in LIV – had been uninspiring heading into the PGA Championship, however he appeared to find something when 7th the week prior in Tulsa – his best finish since the 2021 Tour Championship. 

He improved considerably on that when 4th at the PGA Championship thanks to an outstanding ball-striking performance, where he led the field OTT, ranked 2nd in greens hit and 11th in approach.  

We know all about Bryson’s prowess with the driver, as he led the PGA Tour OTT in each of his last two full seasons on the tour, though he had gone missing with his irons last year; thus it was pleasing to see such a strong performance in that regard.  

His putting ability is well documented too, an ability he puts to good use on bentgrass and has a strong bounce-back mentality, ranking 3rd and 6th in the bounce back stat in his last two seasons on the tour. 

DeChambeau’s major form – aside from his 2020 US Open win – is improved by multiple top 5s in the PGA Championship. Whilst correlating form is as strong as most, as a past winner of the Memorial and Arnold Palmer Invitational. If able to pick up where he left off in New York, he would look a serious contender to become a two-time US Open champ this week. 

 

Share Article

(Visited 143 times, 1 visits today)