2023 US Open Preview: Everything To Know About The Los Angeles Country Club
The U.S. Open is coming to Los Angeles Country Club for this season’s third major championship. Find bigger golf odds at the best sports betting sites to increase your potential payouts. Scottie Scheffler is the favorite for this year’s U.S. Open.
We’re going (going) back (back) to Cali – for the third time in five years, the U.S. Open contests in the Golden State. However, this marks the first time the Los Angles Country Club hosts a professional golf tournament since 1940. As the No. 16 ranked course in America by Golf Digest, it will be a highly anticipated debut for LACC, which is equipped to produce one of the most memorable Major championships in decades. Below, we’ll dive headlong into 2023 U.S. Open odds for golf’s third Major.
While there is some speculation required to forecast how LACC will stand up against the strongest field in golf, we can expect it to impose a stern test throughout. Length, creative shot making, elite approach play throughout the bag (from wedges to long irons), and soft touch around the greens will all be required from contenders this week. I expect another single-digit under par winner.
Sadly, I will be at a destination wedding this Sunday, off the grid at a venue on the outskirts of Lake Tahoe with no internet service to track how this tournament will end. It’s fine I’m not bothered about it at all and very much looking forward to this wonderful unimpeded moment with my in-laws’ extended family. Totally reasonable to have a destination wedding on Father’s Day and cut off contact with the outside world throughout the day. It’s completely fine, everything is fine!
Even more exciting than this wedding – I’ll be making a detour to Los Angles to see the action play out live on Friday at LACC. If you find yourself at there this Friday as well, come say hi!
Without further ado, let’s run through the odds, key facts, and info about the North Course at LACC ahead of the 2023 U.S. Open.
US OPEN ODDS: THE FAVORITES
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US OPEN FIELD AT A GLANCE
The U.S. Open presents the strongest field in the world of golf. Compared to The Masters, the U.S. Open offers a full field of 156 players with invites for past champions cut off at 10 years. Compared to the PGA Championship, any spots that would have been reserved for PGA TOUR professionals are instead up for grabs via regional qualifying. We’ll still have potential for some Michael Block-esque storylines for the select amateurs and club pros who successfully advanced through qualifying but, by and large, this field is as strong as it gets.
Talor Gooch is perhaps the most notable player absent from the field this week after the USGA inexplicably amended its qualification criteria to no longer count his top-30 FedEx Cup finish last season as valid. Will Zalatoris, Daniel Berger, and Tiger Woods highlight the list of players who would have otherwise qualified if fully healthy.
The list of former U.S. Open champions teeing it up this week includes: Matt Fitzpatrick, Jon Rahm, Bryson DeChambeau, Gary Woodland, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Martin Kaymer, Justin Rose, Webb Simpson, and Rory McIlroy.
INTRODUCTION TO THE LOS ANGELES COUNTRY CLUB
Established 126 years ago, Los Angeles Country Club has a history much richer than any other first-time Major host boasts. With the company of Bel Air and Riviera Country Club, LACC is the crown jewel of George Thomas’ creations. It last hosted a professional golf tournament back in 1940 for the Los Angeles Open (today the Genesis Invitational).
In 2010, Gil Hanse, Jim Wagner, and Geoff Shackelford spearheaded an ambitious restoration project to return LACC to its roots. The goal of the restoration was to have the course play faster and more open with a rugged overall feel. They widened fairways, removed trees, and added more hazardous bunkers. Barrancas were also redone as a central focus of the front nine. The result is a stunning oasis in the heart of Los Angeles, juxtaposing Southern California’s natural topography with views of the Playboy Mansion and the city skyline.
The North Course at LACC is truly one of a kind. It features a vast property with severe undulations and elevation changes like Augusta National and Kapalua. It has the firm and fast fire with little intervention from the rough, like an Open Championship links venue or desert-style golf course. And, despite its lack of penal rough or diabolical length, it’s sure to test the best players in the world. A winning score this weekend is all but guaranteed to remain single digits under par.
Insights from the 2017 Walker Cup
The Walker Cup is a match play event that pits the best amateurs from the USA and UK against each other. 2017 was our first and only opportunity to see competition at LACC post-renovation. While an amateur match play event is not completely comparable with Major championship conditions, there are still some helpful takeaways we can glean from this event.
It’s a common misconception to take scorecard yardage as a stale number, especially with the USGA, who move pins and tee boxes around. Versatility is one of LACC’s most unique offerings. The quirky and oblong greens create up to 30-yard swings in hole yardage depending on front or back pin placement. For example, the Par-3 14th hole is listed on the official scorecard at 124 yards, but played as short as 75 yards at the Walker Cup, tucked on a front narrow strip of the green, surrounded by bunkers.
Of course, the amateurs did not play from the tipped out lengths the pros will this week, but we should expect the USGA to roll out four very different set ups from Thursday to Sunday with so many tee box and pin location options at their disposal.
Individual performances from amateurs six years ago should be negligible for the most part, but the same could have been said about Matt Fitzpatrick and his amateur success at Brookline before winning in his return at last year’s U.S. Open. If the same narratives apply, look to Scottie Scheffler, Collin Morikawa, and Maverick McNealy as candidates to channel positive vibes from Team USA’s victory. Robert MacIntyre was also a participant in the 2017 Walker Cup, albeit on the losing end, and will also be in the field this week.
Breaking Down Los Angeles Country Club
A 7,426 yard par-70, LACC isn’t long for the sake of being long like many other U.S. Open hosts (Torrey Pines, Winged Foot). In fact, with many downhill drives and firm, fast, and sloping fairways, the yardage should play even shorter than the scorecard suggests.
LACC is perfectly equipped to withstand any bomb-and-gouge tactics. The property trades traditionally pinched fairways and thick rough with just the opposite – wide fairways and generous landing areas. Leaning into the natural topography of the land in the 2010 restoration, LACC is still far from a second shot course. Missing on the wrong side of these fairways will lead to blind second shots, inaccessible pins, or runoffs into its many barrancas. You don’t need pinpoint accuracy here, but it’s a venue that rewards precision over sheer distance.
From an agronomy standpoint, LACC is Bermuda-based with its fairways and rough, and recently transitioned to pure firm and fast Bentgrass greens. Bermuda rough is rare to come by in Majors, as this will be the first venue since Pinehurst No. 2 in 2014 to feature them. Unique to LACC, the rough will come into play primarily around the greens, and less so around the fairways. This set up rewards the best approach players in the field. But with small, quirky, firm, and fast greens and tucked pins expected, scrambling from difficult greenside rough, fairway runoffs, and bunkers will be pivotal.
This venue is completely unlike the other California courses we see on the PGA TOUR (Silverado, Riviera, Torrey Pines, PGA West). While George Thomas is the architect behind both LACC and Riviera, there are few similarities between courses, given the influence of the thick Kikuyu rough at Riviera CC. Still, both layouts feature an easy opening par-5 and a challenging, yet drivable, short Par-4.
For LACC course specs, hole-by-hole breakdown with yardages, and past U.S. Open winners with their pre-tournament odds, visit our US Open Odds page.Editor’s Note
EVENT HISTORY AND COURSE COMPS
Like the RBC Canadian Open last week, there is no professional event data to reference. In lieu of course history, we turn to Event and Comp Course History instead.
US Open History
The USGA embodies the same core characteristics in each of its chosen venues. Even though thick rough and pinched fairways won’t play a part in this year’s U.S. Open, longer hitters and elite ball strikers who can grind in difficult scoring conditions should continue to rise to the top of the leaderboard.
Twelve players avoided missing the cut over the last five US Open contests (min. three starts): Xander Schauffele, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Hideki Matsuyama, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed, Patrick Cantlay, Harris English, Brian Harman, Patrick Rodgers, Joaquin Niemann, and Rickie Fowler.
Thirteen players finished in the top 15 multiple times at the US Open in the last five years: Schauffele, Johnson, McIlroy, Rahm, Fitzpatrick, Morikawa, Woodland, Reed, Scheffler, Cantlay, Scott, English, and Hovland.
Over the last five years, the top 10 players in U.S. Open Event History are: Xander Schauffele, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka, Hideki Matsuyama, Matt Fitzpatrick, Collin Morikawa, Bryson DeChambeau, and Gary Woodland. This list further justifies a trend of elite ball striking – particularly with long irons – among annual contenders at the U.S. Open. While LACC is unlike any U.S. Open venue before it, elite ball striking from longer hitters should continue to translate well to success.
I usually spend a majority of my research time identifying the best course comps to project recent results within the past year onto the field for the upcoming week. In Majors, I tend to de-prioritize the importance of Comp Course History, as the atmosphere of a standard TOUR event is not comparable to that of a Major. However, there’s still value in referencing results on regular TOUR courses that ask for a similar style of play. In this case, Bogey Avoidance in difficult conditions and long rough, Total Driving, and all around tee-to-green strengths still translate.
An Amalgamation of Modern Major Venues
It is cliché to say there has never been a Major played at a course like this before, but, there has never been a Major played at a course like this before.
Its size, severe undulations, dramatic elevation changes, and emphasis on soft touch around the greens might point toward Augusta National. Augusta, however, is a beast in its own right that places far more of an advantage to driving distance and prior course history than what is applicable at LACC.
Southern Hills, host of the 2022 PGA Championship, makes for another strong comp given its similar characteristics. Southern Hills features wider and faster fairways that open up the playing field for shorter or erratic drivers. However, LA offers a significantly drier climate and Southern Hills offers less treacherous fairway hazards when compared to the barrancas of LACC.
Though the last two Open Championship have been met with benign scoring conditions, it’s fair to compare LACC to those traditional courses given the expected difficult scoring conditions and hot fairway runouts. Links courses are traditionally flat from tee to green. However, the dramatic elevation changes at LACC pose a stark difference.
If we look back to last year’s U.S. Open, Brookline also featured Gil Hanse’s restoration work, familiarly playing into the natural topography of the land. A difficult par-70 set up of a similar length, The Country Club and LACC do share plenty in common, but the former’s thick rough and dense trees surrounding its fairways presented a different challenge than what players will face here.
To summarize, there’s a little bit of all four Majors baked into LACC, but none exactly the same.
Looking beyond the recent Major venues, TPC Scottsdale is a sneaky comp course in a similar region to LACC. Both courses feature firm and fast challenging conditions from tee to green. What TPC Scottsdale lacks in barrancas, it offers a similar test with tight fairway runouts into natural cacti hazards.
The Renaissance Club, host of the Genesis Scottish Open, is another interesting comp course. It similarly leans on length, fast and undulating fairways, and elevation change to test the field. Xander Schauffele won the 2022 Scottish Open at -7, and it would seem the same score might be enough to win at LACC, as well.
Congaree Golf Club is another great example of a challenging course (albeit much more level than LACC), while Pinehurst No. 2, Shinnecock Hills, and Chambers Bay each offer strong, fast, and quirky conditions.
Wrap that all together, and the top 10 players in comp course history are: Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler, Matt Fitzpatrick, Xander Schauffele, Rory McIlroy, Collin Morikawa, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Cameron Smith, and Patrick Reed.
KEY STATS TO CONSIDER WITH US OPEN ODDS
- SG: T2G (Recent Form)
- SG: APP / Prox: 200+
- SG: ARG
- Par-4: 450+
- Par-3 200+
- SG: TOT (Difficult Scoring Conditions)
- Bogey Avoidance (Difficult Scoring Conditions)
- SG: Putting (L36, Bent)
- Comp Course & Event History
We don’t have relevant course stats to pull from to directly ascertain how players need to profile to find success at LACC. While we need to project course fit in the absence of past results, there’s always a bevy of information at our disposal in a Major week.
You won’t have to search hard to find hole-by-hole breakdowns this week. The overarching takeaway from the visuals of this course is that a profile similar to Augusta National is paramount. Total Driving is nice to have, but the fairways should level the playing field for both distance and accuracy off the tee.
Model Focus For US Open Odds
I’m putting a significant emphasis on SG: APP and SG: ARG in my models this week. Eight players rank top-25 in both SG: APP and SG: ARG: Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama, Tony Finau, Tommy Fleetwood, Rickie Fowler, Mito Pereira, and Harold Varner III.
From an approach standpoint, the firm conditions and dramatic elevation changes make it difficult to project the expected approach distribution. With three Oar-5s, three 225+ yard Par-3s, and six 480+ yard Par-4s, we can assume long iron proximity will continue to be important, typical at a U.S. Open. The top 10 in Prox: 200+ are: Jon Rahm, Tom Hoge, Viktor Hovland, Gary Woodland, Cameron Tringale, Tony Finau, Shane Lowry, Scottie Scheffler, Bryson DeChambeau, and Mito Pereira.
After SG: APP and SG: ARG, you cannot dismiss the importance of SG: OTT. Distance is always advantageous, but accurate drivers can capitalize just as well here with firm fairways creating longer rollouts and mitigating the advantage of carry distance. Just six players rank above average in Driving Distance, Driving Accuracy, SG: APP, and SG: ARG: Scottie Scheffler, Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay, Tony Finau, Jason Day, and Joaquin Niemann.
Scoring In Difficult Conditions
Anytime the USGA is involved, you know the intent is to make scoring conditions as difficult as possible. Where else would you find two 280+ yard Par-3s and five 490+ yard Par-4s? Given the unique topography and likelihood to move tees and pins daily, it’s difficult to use performance on standard courses to project success here.
Instead, scoring in difficult conditions will more broadly capture those who are best equipped to handle everything LACC throws their way. The top 10 in SG: TOT (Difficult Scoring Conditions) are: Scottie Scheffler, Viktor Hovland, Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay, Wyndham Clark, Denny McCarthy, Tyrrell Hatton, and Collin Morikawa.
LACC And Hole Length
Judging from the scorecard, six holes will play over 450 yards and with five will play at 490+ yards. The top 10 players in scoring from 450+ yards are: Viktor Hovland, Hayden Buckley, Brooks Koepka, Tyrrell Hatton, Adam Scott, Luke List, Patrick Cantlay, Tommy Fleetwood, Adam Svensson, and Joel Dahmen.
One of the many characteristics that make LACC so unique is its long Par-3s. There are five on property and two measure over 280 yards, a layout we’ve never seen before in a Major championship. Between the elevation changes and rotation of tee and pin locations, Par-3s will play a dynamic range throughout tournament week. It’s fair to assume long Par-3 scoring will play a pivotal role at LACC. The top 10 players in Par-3: 200+ Scoring are: Jon Rahm, Xander Schauffele, Joel Dahmen, Shane Lowry, Cameron Young, Si Woo Kim, Hideki Matsuyama, Sahith Theegala, Nick Hardy, and Adam Hadwin.
The top-10 players in SG: Short Game under LACC’s firm and fast conditions are: Denny McCarthy, Maverick McNealy, Sam Burns, Andrew Putnam, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Louis Oosthuizen, Taylor Montgomery, Jason Day, Cam Smith, and Tommy Fleetwood.
The ideal player for LACC should rank above-average in SG: OTT, SG: APP, SG: ARG, Comp Course History, Bogey Avoidance, and SG: TOT (Difficult Scoring Conditions).
Just 11 players fit that criteria: Scottie Scheffler, Xander Schauffele, Rory McIlroy, Patrick Cantlay, Tyrrell Hatton, Hideki Matsuyama, Tony Finau, Tommy Fleetwood, Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, and Joaquin Niemann.
While we don’t have anything to go off for LACC, there’s still merit in pulling what it’s taken to find success at past U.S. Opens to project an ideal profile for this week, given the constant throughline of the USGA governing.
Looking over the stats, I prioritized Par-5 Scoring and SG: OTT at the U.S. Open far less compared to TOUR average. That makes sense, considering the USGA historically converts usual Par-5s into long par-4s, commonly playing to Par-70.
From an OTT standpoint, we’ve seen players start to freely swing driver over the last few contests. They accept that fairways will be difficult to hold and instead opt to play their second shots closer to the hole. Conditions will be much different at LACC, though elite total driving will still give players a leg up if able to drive to the correct slots of these expansive fairways.
Par-4: 400-450 is another stat that plays far less an important role at the U.S. Open compared to average. The USGA typically extends tee boxes back to play closer to to 500 yards and rewards a player with an all-around complement of both distance and accuracy. Just two Par-4s at LACC fall between 400-450 yards.
The stats that take the biggest leap forward in terms of importance at a U.S. Open are Par-4: 500+, SG: ARG, Driving Distance, and Doubles Avoided. Each of these categories will continue to be crucial at LACC, although fairways may level the playing field for Driving Distance this week. Notably, each of these stats rank inside the top 15 of importance at the U.S. Open while outside the top-25 on average.
Thirteen players in the field rank above average in each of the above key stat categories I’m looking for this week: Scottie Scheffler, Xander Schauffele, Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Patrick Cantlay, Tyrrell Hatton, Hideki Matsuyama, Tony Finau, Wyndham Clark, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Joaquin Niemann, and Russell Henley.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: SAHITH THEEGALA
I’ve said this on probably three or four occasions already this season and gotten cold feet each time before, but this time I think I actually believe myself: I want to bet Scottie Scheffler. Not only do I think he’s going to win, I believe he’s capable of running away with this a-la the 2022 Masters if he continues his current baseline from tee to green. But, shining the spotlight on the best player in the field is wasteful of both my time and yours with the case for the World No. 1 and favorite writing itself.
Regardless of what I decide to do about Scheffler, Sahith Theegala will also be on my betting card. LACC is a Theegala course, so let’s go through all the reasons why he is my favorite longshot on the board this week.
The “home game” narrative likely gets overblown by the end of this week. It has very little to do with why I love the fit for Theegala so much, but his ties to the greater Los Angeles area between his Orange, California upbringing and collegiate days at Pepperdine University should not go ignored. LACC is a highly exclusive course with dramatically different topography from the rest of the California golf scene. But, we know Theegala to be at his best feeding off of the crowd and he’s sure to have the full support of all the local patrons. Four of his 16 career top-15 finishes came in the state of California.
From a fit standpoint, Theegala proves to be at his best on open yet challenging “second shot” courses off-the-tee. That allows for more separation from fairway to green. As conditions grow harder, Theegala seems to lean on his crafty short game to separate from the pack with top-10 finishes at The Memorial and The Masters in the last year.
Theegala ranks top-15 in SG: TOT (Long & Difficult Courses) and SG: ARG, while also ranking top-40 in both SG: APP and Driving Distance. He joins Scheffler, Rory, and Justin Thomas as the only four players in this field to fit this profile.
Comp Course Experience
Theegala’s game is well suited for Majors, as he’s recently demonstrated with top-40 finishes in each of his last three Major starts. Beyond his T9 at The Masters this year, he’s also proven an affinity for long, firm and fast, and challenging overall conditions with a T3 at last year’s WM Phoenix Open. TPC Scottsdale mimics many of LACC’s characteristics, including the intensity of the crowd atmosphere.
Piece these altogether, and Theegala lines up as my favorite under-the-radar longshot with 2023 U.S. Open odds.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR WITH 2023 US OPEN ODDS
We made it this far into the article without touching the elephant in the room – the PGA TOUR and LIV joining forces. It will be interesting to see how pre-tournament interviews shake out with new information on this deal seemingly being released every minute. With the expectation of the world’s best players coming together again in 2024, I expect we see less contentious interactions between them and somewhat of a return to normal.
The U.S. Open has always been my favorite tournament of the year. I can’t wait to see a piece of the action myself this Friday.
With all the course-fit profiles in mind, I’m leaning early towards the below player pool. Naturally, I’m looking their way in 2023 US Open odds, as well. I’ve broken the list down by projected pricing/odds tier for DraftKings.
2023 US Open Odds Model Breakdown
In my model, I’m emphasizing SG: APP, SG: T2G, SG: ARG, and Comp Course History, followed by a balanced mix of Prox: 200+, SG: OTT, SG: P, SG: TOT (Difficult Scoring Conditions), Bogey Avoidance, SG: Short Game (Firm & Fast), Par-3: 200+, and Par-4: 450+.
US Open Odds: Model Favorites
Unsurprisingly, it’s Scottie Scheffler who comes out on top of the model. Ranking No. 1 in SG: T2G, SG: OTT, SG: APP, SG: ARG, Bogey Avoidance, and SG: TOT (Difficult Scoring Conditions), it’s tough to argue against Scheffler’s chances to pick up his second career Major championship. The odds agree, but he’ll still be in consideration for me on a tight betting card.
After Scheffler, the rest of my model’s top 10 is rounded out by: Xander Schauffele, Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Patrick Cantlay, Eric Cole, Tyrrell Hatton, Viktor Hovland, Hideki Matsuyama, and Tony Finau.
With 2023 US Open odds available year round, my futures currently consist of Max Homa (35-1) and Sahith Theegala (160-1). I’ll look to add a few more bets to my card, in anticipation of odds adjusting Monday. I have my eyes on Scheffler, should he eclipses 8-1 odds at any point this week. Otherwise, Jordan Spieth, Cam Smith, and Sungjae Im are all in play to round out the card as well. Check back in later this week for more updates. Best of luck navigating 2023 US Open odds!
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