It’s major time once again in the golf world and the U.S. Open is next on the schedule. It’s one of the four major tournaments in the golf world, bringing out the very best of the best. It’s also the first tournament since the announcement that the PGA Tour and LIV Golf will be merging into a new league, meaning that there’s going to be plenty of drama.
This year’s event will be played at The Los Angeles Country Club’s North Course and it’s the first time the private club has hosted the U.S. Open. The 7,423-yard, par-70 course will feature five par-3s and three par-5s, the first such configuration in U.S. Open history. It’ll also be the first time a venue will feature five par-3s since 1947.
Let’s take a closer look at the U.S. Open, the favourites, the fades, and the dark horses that could claim the major.
Nick Taylor to win the U.S. Open
Notable Canadians in the field
Moving out of the RBC Canadian Open, there are still a few major names from up north that will be noteworthy in the U.S. Open. A few names will be just on the outside of the favourites list while the rest will definitely be in the longshot category.
Corey Conners (+6000): Conners is going to be the favourite among Canadians. With a pair of career Tour wins, he has been in the top 10 twice this season and represents the best hope for a big Canadian win.
Nick Taylor (+17500): Taylor is riding high, coming off a win at the RBC Canadian Open on a 72-foot eagle. Another big performance would be great for Canada.
Adam Hadwin (+25000): Hadwin got more attention for being tackled trying to celebrate Taylor’s win at the RBC Canadian Open than anything else. A solid player but not likely to be a threat.
Adam Svensson(+30000): Svensson is one of the most consistently solid Canadian players on the tour. A top-25 finish at the Open would be a huge boon.
Taylor Pendrith (+40000): Still looking for his first Tour win, but he does have a top-10 finish on the season. Making the cut would be a strong showing for Pendrith.
Three players to back
You’ll see more than a handful of favourites entering the U.S. Open this weekend. But how do you narrow it down to just a couple? Here are three definitive names that should be right there in contention in the final stages of the Open.
Scottie Scheffler (+800): Scheffler has consistently been one of the best players in the world for the last couple of years. In 2022, he finished second at the U.S. Open and has another runner-up finish at this year’s PGA Championship. He has been right there for many of the top events on the PGA Tour and it’s only a matter of time before he gets over the hump. Scheffler is first in many meaningful categories related to the US Open. He’s first in strokes gained tee-to-green (2.567), greens in regulation percentage (74.11%), strokes gained off the tee (1.107), and strokes gained total (2.501). He has the past performances and the tools needed to walk away with a U.S. Open championship.
Brooks Koepka (+1200): Now that he’s healthy, Koepka has shown that he’s a force even on the LIV Tour. With the two major tours now joining together, Koepka is going to be haunting the Tour once again in some capacity. And it starts with this appearance at the U.S. Open. He’s coming off a win at the PGA Championship a month ago and a T-2 finish at the Masters back in April. Koepka is one of the top favourites to win the U.S. Open because of his past performances in the last year. Oh, and he’s won the U.S. Open twice in the past already. Even on courses where players are really challenged and need to grind it out, Koepka manages to excel. He should be right in the thick of it heading into Sunday with a chance to grab another big win.
Xander Schauffele (+2500): There are more than a few big names that we will hear about at the start of the U.S. Open. Schauffele might not have the name recognition as some of the other top contenders, but you would be hard-pressed to find a player in the field with a better record and no win at the U.S. Open than Schauffele. In his last six appearances at the U.S. Open, he has a whopping five top-7 finishes. The only time he didn’t finish within the top 7 was a T-14 effort a year ago. Schauffele certainly feels like he’s due. He has the kind of elite tee-to-green play to go a long way and this could finally be the one that he finishes off for a victory.
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Three players to fade
It’s never as easy as picking the favourites. If it were, picking a winner probably wouldn’t be all that tough. There are three names that stand out as the kind of guys that you should stay far away from. These three are names to fade when picking for the U.S. Open.
Max Homa (+3300): Homa is interesting in a lot of ways. He’s projected as one of the top names in the 2023 U.S. Open, especially as a six-time winner on the PGA Tour. He has always seemingly been right on the cusp of a major win and fans have been waiting for him to break through. They might have to wait a little while longer. Homa is third in the FedEx Cup standings, but hasn’t done well at either major this year, finishing outside of the top 40 at both the Masters and the PGA Championship. Going back through his last 12 majors, Homa doesn’t have a single top-10 finish. Even worse, he hasn’t made the cut in eight of them. Majors have not been kind to Homa, so stay far away from him this weekend until he proves he can deliver on the big stage.
Jon Rahm (+1100): Rahm is currently one of the best golfers in the world in the middle of arguably his best season. So, why on Earth would you want to fade a golfer in that situation? What you might not see on the surface is Rahm’s performances at majors outside of the 2023 Masters, where he won. Rahm didn’t have a single top-10 finish in any of the four 2022 majors. And aside from his Masters win, he finished a very distant 50th at the PGA Championship just a month ago. That’s not even mentioning that he’s missed the cut twice in six appearances at the U.S. Open. Stay away from Rahm until he can prove that the Masters wasn’t a fluke for him in majors.
Justin Rose (+4000): Rose is one of those names that feels like he’s right on the cusp of a big win. After all, he has won the U.S. Open in the past (2013). He’s also playing some very good golf of late, finishing in the top 12 in each of his last three events. He also tied for ninth at the PGA Championship. Just a month ago, he finished 16th at The Masters, too. If there’s one area where you don’t really love Rose, it’s off the tee. He’s just 140th in strokes gained this year, which doesn’t bode well for him. There’s one silver lining and that is the wider fairways, which should help his poor accuracy. Still, he’s been in contention but never enough to feel like a real threat.
Three dark horses to watch
Sometimes there are names that come from seemingly out of nowhere to pick up a huge win. While the odds are not necessarily good for any of these three golfers, they could wind up surprising come late in the tournament.
Eric Cole (+20000): We’ll start with one of the biggest longshots of the tournament in Cole. Don’t let the odds fool you because he’s a strong player in all facets. While he didn’t play in the Masters this year, he did finish tied for 15th at the PGA Championship in a strong showing. His 27th-place finish at the Players is not too shabby, either. He’s been close to a win this year, too. He lost in a playoff at the Honda Classic in February and finished T-6 at the recent RBC Canadian Open. In his last seven starts, Cole has five top-25 finishes. If he can start to put things together for even two days in a row, he could find himself among the leaders on Sunday.
Tommy Fleetwood (+5000): Fleetwood has seemingly been one of those names you hear about heading into every tournament. He’s always a solid play, consistently finishing in the top 25 (seven times this season). He lost in a playoff to Nick Taylor at the RBC Open, making it his fourth top-10 finish of the year. He’s sixth on the Tour in strokes gained and has been playing as complete a game as anyone.
Keegan Bradley (+10000): Bradley had one of the hottest starts to the season of anyone on the Tour. Since then, he has cooled off quite a bit but that had to be expected. Even then, it’s not as though he’s fallen off the face of the Earth and he may be due for another strong performance after showing that he could hang. He’s made five straight cuts, finishing in the top 50 in all of those. That includes T-29 at the PGA Championship and an impressive T-23 at the Masters. That’s the kind of solid play that can see a boost into the top 10 before you know it.