The third major golf championship of the 2023 season gets underway this week on the west coast, as the world’s very best golfers meet up at historical Los Angeles Country Club for the 123rd edition of the U.S. Open.
A year ago, England’s Matt Fitzpatrick claimed his maiden major title in Boston, while the year prior, Jon Rahm also captured his maiden major trophy. In fact, the last four U.S. Open champions have been first-time major winners.
The 2023 golf season, though, has seen Rahm win his second major at the Masters, while Brooks Koepka claimed his fifth at the PGA.
Thus, will this year’s U.S. Open winner be a fifth straight to claim their first, or a third consecutive in 2023 to add another to his major trophy haul?
Our top 20 is below:
20. Joaquin Niemann
The 24-year-old Chilean opened the 2023 season with a pair of top-10 finishes on the Asian Tour. Since then, though, Niemann has posted mixed results, blending a top-20 at the Masters and two straight top-10 finishes on the LIV Golf circuit with a missed-cut at the PGA and T33 at LIV DC… The world No.36 has made three career starts at the U.S. Open, with a T23 his top result… Bonus: Niemann won the 2022 Genesis Open at Riviera (L.A.) so there could be a good vibe effect.
Book Rank: T32
Last 6: 33, MC, 9, 10, 30, 15
Last 6 Majors: MC, 16, 53, 47, 23, 35
Best at U.S. Open: T23 (2020)
19. Hideki Matsuyama
The 2021 Masters champion has finished T26 or better in six straight U.S. Open starts, including a pair of top-5 finishes (T2, 4th)… Matsuyama is in solid form and enters Los Angeles off five top-25 finishes in his last seven starts, including a solo 5th-place result at the Players.
Book Rank: T19
Last 6: 16, 29, 23, 16, 15, 31
Last 6 Majors: 29, 16, 68, 4, 60, 14
Best at U.S. Open: T2 (2017)
18. Max Homa
The 32-year-old L.A. native, and world No.7, is enjoying another dream season with two more victories (Silverado, Torrey Pines) and six additional top-10 finishes. Yet, as phenomenal as Homa’s been over the past few years, he’s been a complete no-show in the majors, with just a single finish better than T40 in 15 career major starts.
Book Rank: T13
Last 6: 9, 55, 8, MC, 43, 9
Last 6 Majors: 55, 43, MC, 47, 13, 48
Best at U.S. Open: T47 (2022)
17. Justin Thomas
The 15-time Tour winner has not landed in the winner’s circle since claiming his second PGA in May 2022, and does not look close to being his old self. The superstar who reeled off 13 wins in a 47-month span (averaging a W every 3.6 months), has won just twice in the last 34 months. The former top-10 machine enters amid a season with just two top-10 results in 13 starts. In the season’s four biggest tournaments, JT has been even worse (MC-Memorial, T65-PGA, MC-Masters, T60-Players). So why are we even ranking the Alabama alum? Because he’s one of the top-5 most talented golfers in the world. Thus, the due factor.
Book Rank: T13
Last 6: MC, 65, 14, 25, MC, 10
Last 6 Majors: 65, MC, 53, 37, 1, 8
Best at U.S. Open: T8 (2020)
16. Collin Morikawa
The two-time major winner opened 2023 with three top-6 finishes in his first four starts. But since then, the Cal-Berkeley product has recorded just a single top-10 finish and enters off five consecutive poor results: WD (Memorial), T29 (Colonial), T26 (PGA), MC (Quail Hollow), T31 (Heritage)… On the major stage, though, the 26-year-old seems unflappable, with two wins, three other top-5s and two more top-10s in just 13 career starts.
Book Rank: T10
Last 6: WD, 29, 26, MC, 31, 10
Last 6 Majors: 26, 10, MC, 5, 55, 5
Best at U.S. Open: T4 (2021)
15. Tyrrell Hatton
Hatton enters L.A. on a heater with six straight top-20 finishes, including three top-5s… The 31-year-old Brit fired a 64 on Sunday to record a T3 at last week’s Canadian Open… The world No.14 finished T15 (PGA) and T34 (Masters) in the opening two majors of the season.
Book Rank: T13
Last 6: 3, 12, 15, 5, 3, 19
Last 6 Majors: 15, 34, 11, 56, 13, 52
Best at U.S. Open: T6 (2018)
14. Tony Finau
In his five most recent starts, the Utah native owns a win (Mexico) alongside four mediocre (at best) results: MC, T72, T23, 1, T31… From 2018 through 2021, Finau recorded an incredible nine top-10 finishes over a span of 13 major starts. Since, he’s gone eight straight majors without a single top-10 result.
Book Rank: 12th
Last 6: MC, 72, 23, 1, 31, 26
Last 6 Majors: 72, 26, 28, MC, 30, 35
Best at U.S. Open: 5th (2018)
13. Patrick Reed
The 2018 Masters champion struggled at Trump National DC but before that had posted seven consecutive top-20 finishes, highlighted by a T4 at Augusta National and T18 at the PGA… Reed sits in 12th place on the LIV Golf circuit’s season-long points standings… The Texan owns four top-20 finishes in his six most recent U.S. Open starts, including a solo 4th at the 2018 edition.
Book Rank: T30
Last 6: 39, 18, 12, 14, 4, 3
Last 6 Majors: 18, 4, 47, 49, 34, 35
Best at U.S. Open: 4th (2018)
12. Jordan Spieth
Following a three-event span where Spieth missed two cuts and withdrew from the Byron Nelson, the 29-year-old Texan appears fully healthy and enters off an impressive top-5 finish at the Memorial… On the 2023 campaign, “Golf’s Golden Child” is enjoying a stellar season, featuring six top-10 finishes, highlighted by five top-5s… The 2015 winner of the U.S. Open seeks to join Brooks Koepka as the only two-time U.S. Open winner among active tour pros.
Book Rank: 9th
Last 6: 5, MC, 29, MC, 2, 4
Last 6 Majors: 29, 4, 8, 37, 34, MC
Best at U.S. Open: Win (2015)
11. Matt Fitzpatrick
The victory in Brookline last year highlighted Fitzpatrick’s breakout season, and he’s followed it up with another top-notch campaign, headlined by a win at Hilton Head… The 28-year-old Brit enters Los Angeles off two straight top-20 finishes… He missed the cut at last month’s PGA but posted a T10 at the Masters… He owns five top-25 finishes in his six most recent major starts.
Book Rank: T13
Last 6: 20, 9, MC, 35, 1, 10
Last 6 Majors: MC, 10, 21, 1, 5, 14
Best at U.S. Open: Win (2022)
10. Rory McIlroy
The Northern Irishman won the CJ Cup back in the fall, but since the calendar flipped to 2023, the now 34-year-old has not played particularly well despite a string of top-10 finishes recently… He followed up a missed-cut at the Masters with a no-show at Hilton Head, costing himself $3 million, and then finished T47 at Quail Hollow, a course he usually owns… He does enter off three-straight top-10 results but two were Sunday collapses.
Book Rank: 4th
Last 6: 9, 7, 7, 47, MC, 3
Last 6 Majors: 7, MC, 3, 5, 8, 2
Best at U.S. Open: Win (2011)
9. Bryson DeChambeau
LIV Golf’s big-bombing superstar enters the 123rd U.S. Open off three straight top-10 finishes including a T4 at last month’s PGA Championship… The 29-year-old California native is a two-time USGA champion (2015 US Amateur and 2020 US Open) and owns five top-35 finishes in seven career starts… DeChambeau’s distance off the tee will be a huge advantage at the relatively short L.A. Country Club’s North course.
Book Rank: T16
Last 6: 10, 4, 7, 22, 28, MC
Last 6 Majors: 4, MC, 8, 56, MC, 33
Best at U.S. Open: Win (2020)
8. Dustin Johnson
Fully healed from an injury which hampered his game earlier in the season, the now (laughably) 90th ranked golfer in the world enters amid a batch of mixed results, including an overtime win in Tulsa on LIV, alongside a T55 at the PGA… With a win, the longtime world No.1 and two-time major winner seeks to join Jordan Spieth as a three-time major winner among active tour pros.
Book Rank: T16
Last 6: 27, 55, 1, 25, 10, 48
Last 6 Majors: 55, 48, 6, 24, MC, 12
Best at U.S. Open: Win (2016)
7. Patrick Cantlay
The Long Beach, Cal native enters his hometown-hosted major as the world No.4 and in top form, highlighted by five top-10 finishes in his nine most recent starts… The one question mark with Cantlay is his major championship resume which includes just four top-10s in 22 starts, although he has posted four consecutive top-15 results (T9, T14, T8, T14).
Book Rank: 6th
Last 6: 30, 9, 21, 3, 14, 9
Last 6 Majors: 9, 14, 8, 14, MC, 39
Best at U.S. Open: T14 (2022)
6. Cameron Smith
The 29-year-old Aussie, and greatest putter on the planet, enters L.A. in top form (11th DC, T9 PGA, T2 Tulsa, T6 Singapore and T3 Australia). The one question: since a T4 at the 2015 edition, the reigning British Open champ has failed to post a single top-10 result in the U.S. Open with missed cuts in his last two appearances… In his six most recent major starts, Smith owns four top-15 finishes, headlined by a win at St Andrews and T3 at the 2022 Masters.
Book Rank: T10
Last 6: 11, 9, 2, 6, 3, 34
Last 6 Majors: 9, 34, 1, MC, 13, 3
Best at U.S. Open: T4 (2015)
5. Viktor Hovland
The world No.5 enters L.A. on a heater, highlighted by a win at the Memorial and runner-up at the PGA Championship… Hovland owns top-10 finishes in five of the season’s top-tier events: 1st Memorial, T2 PGA, T7 Masters, T3 Players, T10 Arnold Palmer… The 2018 U.S. Amateur finished as the low amateur (T12) at the 2019 U.S. Open.
Book Rank: 5th
Last 6: 1, 16, 2, 43, 59, 7
Last 6 Majors: 2, 7, 4, MC, 41, 27
Best at U.S. Open: T12 (2019)
4. Xander Schauffele
The San Diego native and reigning Olympic gold medalist enters in really good form, highlighted by seven straight top-25s including three top-5s… While he has yet to win a major title, Schauffele has consistently performed well on golf’s biggest stages, including seventeen top-20s in 25 major starts – ten of those inside the top 10. In six career starts at the U.S. Open, Schauffele owns three top-5 finishes, and has never finished outside the top 15… Schauffele, Cantlay and Finau are considered the best players in the world without a major title.
Book Rank: T7
Last 6: 24, 18, 2, 4, 10, 5
Last 6 Majors: 18, 10, 15, 14, 13, MC
Best at U.S. Open: T3 (2019)
3. Jon Rahm
The world No.2 has cooled off a bit since winning the Masters and finishing solo runner-up in Mexico. Still, the talented Spaniard will enter L.A. as one of the tip-top favorites… The 28-year-old has recorded four straight top-25 finishes at the U.S. Open, including a win (2021) and T3 (2019). A win would make Rahm a two-time U.S. Open champion and three-time major champ.
Book Rank: 3rd
Last 6: 16, 50, 2, 15, 1, 31
Last 6 Majors: 50, 1, 34, 12, 48, 27
Best at U.S. Open: Win (2021)
2. Scottie Scheffler
In terms of who’s playing the best among the very best, it’s hard to argue against Scheffler. The world No. 2 enters L.A. with – get this – sixteen-consecutive top-12 finishes, highlighted by two victories, eight other top-5s and three additional top-10s!… In his last nine major starts, the Texan owns seven top-10 finishes, including a maiden win at last season’s Masters.
Book Rank: 1st
Last 6: 3, 3, 2, 5, 11, 10
Last 6 Majors: 2, 10, 21, 2, MC, 1
Best at U.S. Open: T2 (2022)
1. Brooks Koepka
The Florida State product does not need help getting himself hyped for majors, as he’s consistently excelled on the biggest stages. In a three-season blitzkrieg (2017-2019), Koepka won four times while finishing runner-up twice more. Starting in 2020, though, the 33-year-old has battled through a multitude of injuries which limited his play and hampered his once-dominant style. Now injury free, and in top form, Koepka returned to the major stage in April and finished T2 at the Masters. He chased it with a win at the PGA – his fifth career major. No one is better on the major stage than big-game Brooks.
Book Rank: 2nd
Last 6: 14, 1, 6, 3, 19, 2
Last 6 Majors: 1, 2, MC, 55, 55, MC
Best at U.S. Open: Win (2017, 2018)
Next Five: Tommy Fleetwood (50-1), Justin Rose (50-1), Cameron Young (50-1), Shane Lowry (60-1), Phil Mickelson (150-1).