Out of the Rough: The U.S. Open (2023)
It’s finally time for one of the most anticipated events of the PGA Tour Schedule in the U.S. Open.
The U.S. Open is to be held for the third time in the past five years in the state of California as the Los Angeles Country Club plays host.
Despite being deemed one of the best golf courses in the United States, Los Angeles Country Club will be hosting its first professional golf tournament since 1940.
The nomadic championship hosted by the United States Golf Association (USGA) will be holding its 123rd edition this year at the North Course at Los Angeles Country Club.
The U.S. Open was first held in 1985 and won by Englishman Horace Rawlins who shot 173 over two rounds. The tournament moved to a 72-hole stroke play event in 1898 and the rest is history.
This tournament once played annually as the second major of the season following The Masters and held prior to the PGA Championship. In 2019, this event was moved to being played as the third major of the season.
The U.S. Open too boasts the best field possible over any other event held annually
As previously mentioned, the field of the U.S. Open is the strongest field in the entire world of golf.
The field features 156 players with invites for past champions that are cut off at ten years. The Masters hosts a field between 90-to-100 golfers. Compared to the PGA Championship, any spot that would have been held by a PGA TOUR professional is instead filled via regional qualifying events for the U.S. Open.
Although not to the same standard, there will be chances for some fairytale-esk stories such as Michael Block at the PGA Championship with the amateurs and club professionals who qualified via the qualifying events.
The USGA recently amended its qualification criteria to no longer include the top-30 FedEx Cup finishes of a year prior, which excludes Talor Gooch from this event as the most notable absence of those who did not qualify.
Those who would have qualified if healthy and not playing this week include Will Zalatoris, Daniel Berger and of course, Tiger Woods.
Former U.S. Open champions playing this week include Matt Fitzpatrick (2022,) Jon Rahm (2021,) Byson DeChambeau (2020,) Gary Woodland (2019,) Brooks Koepka (2017 & 2018,) Dustin Johnson (2016,) Jordan Spieth (2015,) Martin Kaymer (2014,) Justin Rose (2013,) Webb Simpson (2012) and Rory McIlroy (2011.)
Despite Los Angeles Country Club not hosting a professional event since 1940, it did host the Walker Cup, which pits the best amateurs of the United States versus those of Europe, in 2017.
If we follow a similar storyline to that of last year where Matt Fitzpatrick won the US Open at Brookline, those who played in that Walker Cup could have an advantage just as Fitzpatrick correlated his amateur success at Brookline to his return on TOUR.
Those who played in the Walker Cup in 2017 and now returning as part of the PGA TOUR include Scottie Scheffler, Collin Morikawa and Maverick McNealy who were part of Team USA who won the event. Robert MacIntyre played on the European team in that event and will be playing this week as well.
Los Angeles Country Club plays at 7,426 yards and as a par-70 and is currently ranked as the United States’ 16th best golf course according to GolfDigest.
It was established 126-years-ago and unlike most first time Major hosts, has a rich history.
George Thomas is the man behind the development of this course that shines as the “crown jewel” of his work which too includes courses such as Bel Air and Riviera Country Club.
The course is not long just for the sake of being long like many of the previous U.S. Open hosts. With the way the course is laid out, including downhill drives combined with firm, fast and sloping fairways, the course will play shorter than the scorecard suggests.
This course is perfectly equipped to withstand any bomb-and-gouge tactics if a golfer is to go that route.
We’re used to the storyline of extremely long-and-sticky rough as part of the USGA guidelines at the U.S. Open but that isn’t the case of Los Angeles Golf Club. It instead features Bermuda grass throughout.
Instead of playing more to the tune of a U.S. Open track that we’re used to, this course plays more to the likes of an Open Championship links style course or a desert-style golf course.
Off the tee, golfers will see wide fairways and generous landing areas, which is nearly opposite of what we’re used to seeing at the U.S. Open with pinched fairways and thick rough.
This course underwent an extensive renovation in 2010, spearheaded by Gil Hanse, Jim Wagner, and Geoff Shackelford, which leaned into the natural topography of the land and area.
The goal of the restoration was for the course to play faster and more open with a more, overall, rugged feel. This is where the wider fairways were brought into play with the removal of many trees. They too added more hazardous bunkers and the barrancas were redone as a central focus on the front nine.
In the end, they gave us a stunning golf oasis in the heart of Los Angeles
Due to this, players will still need accuracy off the tee, despite the wide fairways, as missing the wrong side of the fairways will set up blind second shots, inaccessible pins and runoffs into many of the barrancas.
Accuracy off the tee will be more important this week than distance.
From the fairways, golfers will need to rely heavily on approach play throughout the bag. From wedges to long irons, players will have to be creative with their shot making and selections if they hope to contend on Sunday.
This one-of-a-kind course features severe undulations and elevation changes. Similar to the likes of Augusta National in a way.
The greens this week are Bentgrass, despite the rest of the course being wall-to-wall Bermuda. These greens too are quirky and oblong that can do as much as a 30-yard swing in hole yardage depending on pin placement.
In all, despite the lack of penal rough or playing extremely long, this course is still set to test the best golfers in the world.
It can be almost assumed that the winning score will be in the single digits under par.
As of the time of writing this, it looks like there will be a clear four days for golf. Temperatures will be a bit lower than what we would expect for Los Angeles in June. Highs will range from 69-degrees on Friday, peaking at 75-degrees on Saturday before going down to 74-degrees on Sunday. There is a little to no chance of precipitation across the four days. The weather is currently being described as “mostly sunny.” In all, a good four days of golf are ahead of us.
Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP)
Strokes Gained: Tee to Green (SG: TTG)
Driving Accuracy Percentage
Greens in Regulation Percentage (GIR%)
Sand Saves Percentage
Strokes Gained: Around the Green (SG: ATG)
Approach Shots from 200-plus Yards
Strokes Gained: Putting Bentgrass (SG: PUTT Bentgrass)
Birdie or Better Percentage
Par Four Average Scoring
Par Three Average Scoring
The first two names in this price range should be assumed on any given week. My favorite of the two this week is Scottie Scheffler ($11,400.) Scheffler is currently first on Tour in all of SG: TTG, SG: APP, GIR%, bogey avoidance and par four average scoring. Do I even need to go on from there? He’s also fourth in birdie or better percentage, fifth in par three average scoring, sixth in SG: ATG, eighth in scrambling, 17th in approach shots from 200-plus yards and 25th in driving accuracy. We all know where his weakness is, and that’s on the greens. He currently ranks 181th in SG: PUTT on Bentgrass which obviously hurts his ranking in our model but still comes out near the top. He is also 177th in sand saves percentage. Scheffler’s tee-to-green numbers match that of prime Tiger Woods. In his recent outing at the Charles Schwab Challenge, he gained 14 strokes on the field tee-to-green but dropped over six on the greens. He’s too good of a golfer (obviously) to not be working on his putting. If he gets a few putts to drop this week that he typically wouldn’t, he could run away with this tournament - he’s that good. On the calendar year, despite being awful on the greens, he has not finished worse than T12th. He has won at the WM Phoenix Open and THE PLAYERS Championship. He also has nine top tens and seven top fives in 11 tournaments. Let’s also not forget he placed T2nd at the PGA Championship at Oak Hill that played more to the tune of a U.S. Open than a PGA Championship. Also consider, you guessed it, Jon Rahm ($11,100.) Rahm is currently tops on Tour when it comes to both birdie or better percentage and par three average scoring. He is also second in SG: TTG, third in all three of SG: APP, GIR% and par four average scoring, eighth in both approach shots from 200-plus yards and bogey avoidance, 67th in SG: ATG, 68th in scrambling, 73rd in sand saves percentage and 89th in driving accuracy. His fault too comes on the greens as he ranks 177th on tour in SG: PUTT Bentgrass. He has played just two tournaments this year with Bentgrass greens however and he’s a much better putter than Scheffler is. That’s where he’ll look to keep pace with Scheffler. Rahm hasn’t been playing his best golf as of late, placing T16th at The Memorial and T50th at the PGA Championship. Despite that, he still has wins at The Masters, The Genesis Invitational and The American Express. In ten tournaments on the calendar year, he has six top tens and five top fives to go along with his multiple victories. I know you’re spending up for Scheffler or Rahm, but I feel like having them rostered is a necessity. My final suggestion in this price range and arguably my favorite play of the week in Viktor Hovland ($10,000.) Hovland is currently eighth in birdie or better percentage, ninth in par four average scoring, tenth in both par three average scoring and SG: APP, 11th in SG: TTG, 21st in scrambling, 25th in bogey avoidance, 27th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass, 28th in sand saves percentage, 36th in driving accuracy and 56th in GIR%. His score in my model this week is hindered by a 121st placement in approach shots from 200-plus yards and a 135th placement in SG: ATG. I’m not too concerned however, as he is one of the hottest golfers on Tour. He’s fresh off a victory at an elevated event in The Memorial and placed T2nd at the PGA Championship. He also placed T7th at The Masters and T3rd at THE PLAYERS. He’s turning it on when it comes to the biggest events the PGA Tour has to offer and it’s a matter of time before he becomes the first Norwegian male to win a Major. Why can’t that week be the week?
As always, there are some great options in this price range this week. My first suggestion is Xander Schauffele ($9,600.) Schaffuele recently had a stretch of tournaments between The Masters and the Wells Fargo Championship where he placed T10th at The Masters, fourth at the RBC Heritage and second at the Wells Fargo Championship. Although not to the same magnitude of success, he has placed T18th at the PGA Championship and T24th at The Memorial following that run of three tournaments as well. Looking back further in the calendar year he placed T3rd at The American Express and T10th at the WM Phoenix Open. He is currently sixth on Tour in both par four average scoring and SG: APP, eighth in SG: TTG, 12th in both GIR% and bogey avoidance, 15th in scrambling, 16th in birdie or better percentage, 46th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass, 59th in sand saves percentage, 60th in SG: ATG, 110th in driving accuracy and 112th in approach shots from 200-plus yards. Like many in this price range, he has yet to win a major, although being a runner up on multiple occasions. I won’t have any money on Schauffele outright this week, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he got it done. Also consider Max Homa ($9,400.) Homa hasn’t been playing as well as of late as he had been at the turn of the calendar year where he won the Farmers Insurance, placed second at the Genesis Invitational and placed T6th at THE PLAYERS, but he hasn’t been playing bad golf by any means either. He placed T9th at the Charles Schwab Challenge and T8th at the Wells Fargo Championship in his last three outings. He made the cut at the PGA Championship which to most, was an achievement on its own. He’s currently second on Tour in par three average scoring, fifth in birdie or better percentage, ninth in par four average scoring, 12th in SG: APP, 16th in SG: TTG, 26th in bogey avoidance, 27th in scrambling, 31st in SG: ATG, 59th in sand saves percentage, 85th in approach shots from 200-plus yards, 92nd in driving accuracy, 100th in GIR% and 105th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass. Like Schauffele, Homa has not won a Major and I won’t have any money on him but he too is knocking on the door. Also consider Collin Morikawa ($9,300.) Morikawa is one I’ve gone back and forth on adding to the betting card but at this point, I’ve left him off. Morikawa has not been playing his best golf as of late, but did make the cut in his last three tournaments. He has had some great performances on the calendar year however with a T10th at The Masters, third at the Farmers Insurance Open, T6th at the Genesis Invitational and T13th at THE PLAYERS Championship. He’s currently second on Tour in SG: APP as he’s one of the best, if not the best, pure ball strikers the Tour has to offer. He is also fifth in SG: TTG, sixth in driving accuracy and seventh in GIR%. Morikawa ranks tenth in par three average scoring, 22nd in birdie or better percentage, 58th in bogey avoidance, 62nd in approach shots from 200-plus yards and 65th in par four average scoring. His score in our model is hindered by a 110th placement in SG: ATG, 136th in both scrambling and sand saves percentage and 163rd in SG: PUTT Bentgrass. These are three very solid options in this price range when it comes to DFS. I just don’t have any outright money on any of them.
In any tournament that isn’t a Major or a big name elevated event, I do not like this price range. Luckily enough, we’re here at a Major and I’m in love with this price range. My first suggestion is Jason Day ($8,100.) Day actually tops my model this week. So take that as you will. He’s currently first on Tour in scrambling, second in bogey avoidance, third in par four average scoring, 12th in birdie or better percentage, 13th in SG: TTG, 15th in GIR%, 25th in both SG: APP and SG: ATG, 32nd in par three average scoring, 34th in sand saves percentage, 38th in approach shots from 200-plus yards, 47th in driving accuracy and 83rd in SG: PUTT Bentgrass. Day is a two time runner-up at the U.S. Open placing second in 2011 and T2nd in 2013. He broke his near five year winless drought with a victory at the AT&T Byron Nelson a month ago. However, he went on to miss two consecutive cuts in the two tournaments that followed. He still has seven top 20’s, five top tens and two top fives on the calendar year. With a win in the pocket and modeling extremely well for this tournament, I’m riding Day in both DFS and on the betting card at +4800. Also consider Tyrrell Hatton ($8,900.) I love Hatton this week and riding him at +3400 on an outright. He comes in third in my model this week. He’s currently seventh on Tour in SG: TTG, ninth in par four average scoring, tenth in both birdie or better percentage and par three scoring average, 11th in scrambling, 14th in bogey avoidance, 15th in approach shots from 200-plus yards, 17th in SG: APP, 31st in SG: PUTT Bentgrass, 55th in driving accuracy, 57th in SG: ATG, 64th in GIR% and 74th in sand saves percentage. In other words, he’s above average in each of the statistical categories I’m taking into consideration this week. Hatton too has never won a Major but did place T6th at the U.S. Open back in 2018. He is also one of the hottest golfers on the entire Tour at this moment. Dating back to the RBC Heritage, in six tournaments, his worst finish has been T19th and that was at the RBC Heritage. He has placed top 15 in the other five tournaments while going top five at the Wells Fargo Championship (T3rd,) AT&T Byron Nelson (T5th) and most recently at the RBC Canadian Open (T3rd.) He also placed T15th back at the PGA Championship at Oak Hill. It’s easy to see why I’m all over Hatton this week. Also consider Tony Finau ($8,800.) Like most of the guys we’ve touched on thus far, Finau has not won a Major. He has a top five in each of the four Majors however and did place T5th at the U.S. Open back in 2018. Finau is currently third on Tour in birdie or better percentage, fourth in SG: TTG, fifth in both SG: APP and approach shots from 200-plus yards, ninth in par four average scoring, 11th in GIR%, 15th in bogey avoidance, 20th in sand saves percentage, 32nd in scrambling, 33rd in SG: ATG, 62nd in par three average scoring and 66th in driving accuracy. The problem with his game too comes on the greens as he ranks 190th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass. He’ll have to catch a hot putter to contend this week but the rest of the game is there, and then some. Finau does have a taste of victory, winning the Mexico Open at Vidanta in April. He does have eight top 25’s, three top 15’s and two top tens on the season as well. Like the others in this price range, I’m riding Finau on an outright at +3700.
I’m going to do it again. My suggestions in this price range are names I’m constantly all over. First up we have Justin Rose ($7,700.) Rose is a former U.S. Open champion, winning it all in 2013. He too has been playing some really good golf as of late. He placed eighth last week at the RBC Canadian Open, T12th at the Charles Schwab Challenge, T9th at the PGA Championship, T25th at the RBC Heritage and T16th at The Masters. He has a victory on the season back in February at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and placed T6th at THE PLAYERS as well. Heck, dating back to THE PLAYERS, his worst finish has been a T36th at the Valspar Championship and besides that, T25th at the RBC Heritage. Rose is currently second on Tour in sand saves percentage, tenth in par three average scoring, 13th in SG: APP, 19th in both SG: TTG and par four average scoring, 20th in birdie or better percentage, 23rd in scrambling, 26th in bogey avoidance, 31st in SG: ATG, 35th in driving accuracy, 43rd in approach shots from 200-plus yards, 47th in GIR% and 61st in SG: PUTT Bentgrass. He comes second in our model this week to Day and is well above average in each of the statistical categories we’re taking into consideration. Also consider Tom Kim ($7,800.) If you’ve done as much as clicked on just one of my previous articles, you would have likely seen Tom Kim’s name before. That doesn’t change this week. Tom Kim is on the back of back-to-back missed cuts so his ownership will be low and he’s too good of a golfer to make it three straight. He has finishes such as a T6th at The American Express and an impressive T16th in his debut at The Masters. This course plays much like that of Augusta National as previously mentioned. Tom Kim is currently fifth on Tour in driving accuracy, ninth in GIR%, tenth in both bogey avoidance and par three average scoring, 14th in both SG: APP and par four average scoring, 21st in SG: PUTT Bentgrass, 23rd in SG: TTG, 40th in birdie or better percentage, 41st in scrambling, 54th in approach shots from 200-plus yards and 79th in SG: ATG. His score in our model is brought down a bit by a 147th placement in sand saves percentage. However, I’m not worried. At +13000 to win, you best believe I’ll have a unit there. Also consider Si Woo Kim ($7,300.) It wouldn’t be an Out of the Rough article if both Kim’s weren’t mentioned. Si Woo has a top 15 placement in each of the four Majors and placed T13th at the U.S. Open in 2013. One of his four wins on Tour came at the 2017 THE PLAYERS Championship so he has what it takes to win on the biggest of stages. The last time we saw Si Woo was at The Memorial where he shared the lead heading into the final round before ultimately placing fourth. He also placed T2nd at the AT&T Byron Nelson. Si Woo is currently eighth on Tour in driving accuracy, tenth in par three average scoring, 14th in SG: TTG, 19th in par four average scoring, 21st in SG: APP, 24th in sand saves percentage, 26th in scrambling, 28th in bogey avoidance, 37th in birdie or better percentage, 56th in SG: ATG, 61st in GIR% and 84th in approach shots from 200-plus yards. His downfall, like many we’ve talked about, comes on the greens as he is currently 132nd in SG: PUTT Bentgrass. Although the odds aren’t as good as Tom, Si Woo is making an appearance on my card at +7500.
Leading off this final price range is Andrew Putnam ($6,800.) Putnam is an elite putter and scrambler who too is competent around the greens and in return, avoids bogeys. He is currently third on Tour in bogey avoidance, fifth in sand saves percentage, seventh in scrambling, tenth in par three average scoring, 12th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass, 30th in both driving accuracy and GIR%, 32nd in SG: APP, 48th in par four average scoring, 73rd in SG: ATG, 88th in birdie or better percentage, 89th in SG: TTG and 90th in approach shots from 200-plus yards. For someone in this price range to be above average in each of the statistical categories I’m taking into consideration this week is a must play. In this price range, we’re looking for these guys to make the cut and I believe Putnam can do just that. In his last outing he placed T5th at The Memorial and placed T29th a week prior at the Charles Schwab Challenge. Also consider Matt Kuchar ($6,900.) Kuchar is one of those golfers that constantly pops in my models at this price range and that’s for good reason. He’s currently the Tour’s best in sand saves percentage. He is also second in scrambling, fourth in SG: ATG, seventh in bogey avoidance, 32nd in par three average scoring, 39th in SG: TTG, 49th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass, 56th in driving accuracy, 65th in par four average scoring, 72nd in birdie or better percentage, 78th in SG: APP and 98th in GIR%. A lot of boxes are checked there for someone in this price range. His score in our model this week is hindered by placing 149th in approach shots from 200-plus yards. That’s simply a distance thing with Kuchar being 44-years-old. Kuchar has placed in the top seven at each of the four Majors during his career. His best U.S. Open finish was T6th in 2010. He placed T20th last week at the RBC Canadian Open and made the cut at The Memorial. Additionally, he placed T3rd at the Valero Texas Open and eighth at the Genesis Invitational this year. Also consider Adam Hadwin ($6,900.) Hopefully Hadwin is feeling alright after being tackled by a security guard in an attempt to celebrate Nick Taylor’s improbable victory last week. Hadwin is currently tenth on Tour in par three average scoring, 13th in bogey avoidance, 32nd in driving accuracy, 37th in scrambling, 43rd in GIR%, 50th in SG: APP, 52nd in SG: TTG, 65th in par four average scoring, 71st in birdie or better percentage, 78th in both SG: ATG and SG: PUTT Bentgrass and 80th in sand saves percentage. His score is brought down by a 136th placement in approach shots from 200-plus yards. Either way, Hadwin checks a lot of boxes being in this price range. Hadwin placed T7th at last year’s U.S. Open. He also placed T12th last week at the RBC Canadian Open and T10th earlier this year at the WM Phoenix Open.
Scottie Scheffler (+700) - Free FanDuel Bet
Viktor Hovland (+1700)
Tyrrell Hatton (+3400)
Tony Finau (+3700)
Jason Day (+4800)
Justin Rose (+4800)
Si Woo Kim (+7500)
Tom Kim (+13000)