2023 U.S. Open Primer: History, TV, Field, Odds

Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson Final Round 2018 U.S. Open
Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson on the 7th green at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club during the final round of the 2018 U.S. Open in Southampton, NY. Credit: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

The third major of 2023 is upon us, as the 123rd U.S. Open gets underway this week at Los Angeles Country Club.

The historic private golf course will host its first major championship and the first major in the L.A. area in nearly 30 years (1995 PGA).

A field comprised of the game’s marquee names, featuring stars from both of golf’s big tours, including the four reigning major champions: Brooks Kopeka (PGA) and Cam Smith (British Open) of LIV; and Matt Fitzpatrick (U.S. Open) and Jon Rahm (Masters) of the PGA Tour.

Other familiar names who are considered serious threats include Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Louis Oosthuizen and Sergio Garcia of LIV; Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland, Tony Finau, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, and Hideki Matsuyama, among others.

U.S. Open Skinny

Name: United States Open Championship
Debut: 1895
Edition: 123rd
Dates: June 15-18, 2023
Where: L.A., CA
Course: Los Angeles CC (North)
Distance: Par 70, 7421 yards
Architect: George C. Thomas, Jr. (1921)
Renovation: Gil Hanse (2010)
Format: Stroke, 72-holes, 36-hole cut
Purse: $17,500,000
Winning Share: $3,150,000
Winner’s Pts FEC/OWGR: 600/100
Defending Champion: Matt Fitzpatrick

How to Follow the U.S. Open

LIV Golf Tour's Phil Mickelson 2022 U.S. Open
LIV Golf Tour’s Phil Mickelson is seen on a television as he speaks to the media during a press conference prior to the 2022 U.S. Open at The Country Club on June 13, 2022 in Brookline, Mass. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird via Getty Images)

TELEVISION: Thu-Fri: 9:40 a.m.-1 p.m. (Peacock), 1-8 p.m. (USA), 8-11 p.m. (NBC), 5-7 p.m. (USA), 7-8 p.m. (Peacock); Sat: 1-11 p.m. (NBC); Sun: 12-1 p.m. (Peacock), 1-10 p.m. (NBC)

LINKS: Website | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

U.S. Open History

Jack Nicklaus US Open
Jack Nicklaus at the microphone after winning the US Open Golf Championship held at the Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey on June 15, 1980. (Photo by Phil Sheldon/Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images)

It is now one of, if not the, grandest show in golf, but at its beginning, the U.S. Open was just an ancillary tournament to the highly regarded U.S. Amateur.

That inaugural event occurred in 1895, making the U.S. Open the second oldest of the four majors, and was held at the opulent Newport Golf Club in Newport, R.I., the “in” summer hideaway of America’s wealthy and social elite at the time.

Played on Newport’s nine-hole course, the first U.S. Open was held in one day, with each of the 11 golfers in the field playing the course four times. Horace Rawlins, a 21-year-old from England, posted 91-82 to win the tournament by two strokes. He was awarded a $150 share of the $335 purse.

Caddie Eddie Lowry and Francis Ouimet
Caddie Eddie Lowry and Francis Ouimet shocked the sports world when local kid Ouimet won the 1913 U.S. Open in a playoff over Brits Harry Vardon and Ted Ray. (Credit: USGA)

Eighteen years later, the 1913 U.S. Open was held at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. The heavy favorites were English legends Harry Vardon (1900 U.S. Open winner; four-time British Open winner) and Ted Ray (reigning British Open champion). After 72 holes the pair found themselves tied with an unknown 20-year-old amateur named Francis Ouimet, who had grown up across the street from the course and was a former caddy at the club — forcing an 18-hole playoff the next day.

In a shocking upset, Ouimet soundly defeated the two professional golfers in front of huge galleries, resulting in newspaper stories which captured the imagination of the American public. The number of golfers in the country at least tripled in the subsequent decade, with a corresponding increase in golf courses (including many public courses, opening up the game to a larger segment of the population).

The story of Ouimet’s triumph at the 1913 US Open was commercialized by Mark Frost’s 2002 book, ‘The Greatest Game Ever Played: Harry Vardon, Francis Ouimet, and the Birth of Modern Golf,’ which Frost then adapted for a 2005 film.

Over time, the tournament developed a reputation for being the most challenging event in golf, allowing it to draw in the best of the best.

The U.S. Open boasts perhaps the most prestigious list of winners of any tournament. That list includes Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen, Bobby Jones, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson, Tiger Woods and Ernie Els.

Modern-day superstars who’ve won the U.S. Open include Rory McIlroy (2011), Jordan Spieth (2015), Dustin Johnson (2016), Brooks Koepka (2017-18), Bryson DeChambeau (2020) and Jon Rahm (2021).

Tiger Woods 2000 U.S. Open
Tiger Woods left the field in the dust at the 2000 U.S. Open Championship at Pebble Beach. (Photo By Pete Pappas USGA via Getty Images)

Hogan, Jones, Nicklaus, and Willie Anderson all share the tournament record for most wins with four apiece. Tiger and Hale Irwin are next with three victories, followed by two apiece by Alex Smith, John McDermott, Ralph Guldahl, Cary Middlecoff, Julius Boros, Billy Casper, Andy North, Curtis Strange, Lee Janzen, Payne Stewart, Retief Goosen, Trevino, Hagen, Sarazen, Els and Koepka.

A testament to just how difficult the U.S. Open has played historically: In 122 editions of the tournament just four players have finished double-digits under par: Woods (-12) at Pebble Beach in 2000, McIlroy (-16) at Congressional Country Club in 2011, Koepka (-16) at Erin Hills in 2017, and Gary Woodland (-13) at Pebble Beach in 2019.

Even that 2000 event was brutal, as the two runner-ups, Els and Miguel Angel Jimenez, finished at 3-over par, 15 strokes behind Tiger’s iconic one-man show.

U.S. Open History: Recent Winners

2022: Matt Fitzpatrick (-6)
2021: Jon Rahm (-6)
2020: Bryson DeChambeau (-6)
2019: Gary Woodland (-13)
2018: Brooks Koepka (+1)
2017: Brooks Koepka (-16)
2016: Dustin Johnson (-4)
2015: Jordan Spieth (-5)
2014: Martin Kaymer (-9)
2013: Justin Rose (+1)

U.S. Open History: Records

(268) – Rory McIlroy (2011)
(-16) – Rory McIlroy (2011), Brooks Koepka (2017)

(4) – Ben Hogan (1948, 1950, 1951, 1953)
(4) – Bobby Jones (1923, 1926, 1929-30)
(4) – Jack Nicklaus (1962, 1967, 1972, 1980)
(4) – Willie Anderson (1901, 1903-05)
(3) – Tiger Woods (2000, 2002, 2008)
(3) – Hale Irwin (1974, 1979, 1990)

The Course: L.A. CC (North)

The 18th hole at Los Angeles CC 2023 US Open
The 18th hole at Los Angeles CC. (Photo: USGA)

L.A. North is set on a “huge plot of rolling, rugged terrain, sprinkled with oaks, sycamores, pines, redwoods, and eucalyptus, plus creeks and tall fescues, according to a feature story in LINKS Magazine.

Golf blogger Geoff Shackelford, who somehow assisted Gil Hanse with the renovation, compares the course to Augusta National.

“The topography is more dramatic than the usual U.S. Open venue,” said Shackelford. “Some of the fairways are very wide and we’ll see the ball running. It’s quite hilly, though the walk manages to make it flow pretty well and never seem like a climb. It’s amazing to have two of the most famous and heavily trafficked boulevards bookending the property but you rarely hear them and you feel far removed from city life.”

L.A. North seems to have benefited from the “design genius of George Thomas and the restoration skill of Hanse,” noted LINKS.

The Course Skinny

Name: Los Angeles CC
Course: North Course
Established: 1911
Where: Los Angeles, CA
Architect: George C. Thomas, Jr. (1921)
Renovation: Gil Hanse (2010)
Par: 35-35-70
Yards: 7,421
Par 3s: 5 (4, 7, 9, 11, 15)
Par 5s: 3 (1, 8, 14)
Par 4s: 11

L.A. CC: Hole-By-Hole

Hole 1: Par 5, 590 Yards
Hole 2: Par 4, 497 Yards
Hole 3: Par 4, 419 Yards
Hole 4: Par 3, 228 Yards
Hole 5: Par 4, 480 Yards
Hole 6: Par 4, 330 Yards
Hole 7: Par 3, 284 Yards
Hole 8: Par 5, 537 Yards
Hole 9: Par 3, 171 Yards
Hole 10: Par 4, 409 Yards
Hole 11: Par 3, 290 Yards
Hole 12: Par 4, 380 Yards
Hole 13: Par 4, 507 Yards
Hole 14: Par 5, 623 Yards
Hole 15: Par 3, 124 Yards
Hole 16: Par 4, 542 Yards
Hole 17: Par 4, 520 Yards
Hole 18: Par 4, 492 Yards

U.S. Open Field

PGA Tour's Scottie Scheffler 2022 U.S. Open
PGA Tour’s Scottie Scheffler plays his shot from the 13th tee during a practice round prior to the 2022 U.S. Open at The Country Club on June 13, 2022 in Brookline, Mass. (Photo by Rob Carr via Getty Images)

Who plans to seize the moment this week?

At 7-1, Scottie Scheffler is the favorite in Los Angeles. The Texan enters in absolute top form, highlighted by five straight top-5 finishes including three consecutive top-3s.

Right behind, at 9-1, is big-game Brooks Kopeka, who has finished 2nd-1st in the season’s opening two majors. The five-time major champion will be seeking add a third U.S. Open title to go along with his three PGAs.

Up next is the reigning Masters champion, Jon Rahm, who won the U.S. Open in 2021. The Spaniard is offered at 11-1 and owns a win (Masters), runner-up (Mexico) and two other top-20s in his last five starts.

Another favorite is Rory McIlroy (12-1) who enters off two straight top-10 finishes but also blown Sunday opportunities.

Viktor Hovland rounds out the top-5 favorites at 16-1. The Norwegian star enters on a heater: runner-up to Koepka at the PGA and win at the Memorial.

Southern Cal native Patrick Cantlay (18-1) arrives in L.A. off two top-10 results in his last four starts, including a T9 at the PGA. The UCLA alum is a world-class player who would be a popular USGA champion, given his amateur career.

Another SoCal native is Max Homa (20-1) who also enters in good form with a pair of top-10s in his three most recent starts. The negative on Homa is his major championship track record or lack thereof: it’s flat-out horrible.

Xander Schauffele, who’s also at 20-1, is in a battle with Cantlay for the best player without a major. The 29-year-old San Diego native would be one of the least surprising winners this week. He enters off seven consecutive top-25 finishes including a trio of top-5s.

What about 2015 champion Jordan Spieth? Ranked No.10 in the world, Spieth (25-1) enters off a T5 at the Memorial. The L.A. Country Club would seem to fit Spieth’s old school game.

PGA Tour's Cameron Smith 2022 U.S. Open
PGA Tour’s Cameron Smith plays his shot from the 3rd tee during a practice round prior to the 2022 U.S. Open at The Country Club on June 13, 2022 in Brookline, Mass. (Photo by Cliff Hawkins via Getty Images)

Reigning British Open champion Cameron Smith is ranked No. 9 in the world and has enjoyed another terrific season. The 29-year-old Aussie, who’s listed at 30-1, enters off a T11 at Trump National DC (LIV) and T9 at the PGA.

Also at 30-1 is Collin Morikawa who enters in suspect form. The two-time major winner has struggled for much of the season, posting just two top-10s all year.

Justin Thomas enters with odds of 35-1, his worst wager position entering a major since his days as a rookie. The two-time PGA champ has slumped badly since becoming the PGA Tour’s anti-LIV mouthpiece. In the season’s four biggest marquee events (Memorial, Masters, PLAYERS, PGA), a T60 is Thomas’ best finish.

Defending U.S. Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick is also at 35-1. The Englishman enters L.A. with a win (RBC Heritage) and two top-20s (T20, T9) in his last five starts.

Can fan fav Dustin Johnson win a second U.S. Open? DJ (40-1) arrives on the west coast in so-so form: he won in Tulsa on LIV but finished T48 and T56 in the first two majors. Also at 40-1 is Bryson DeChambeau who owns two USGA titles (2015 U.S. Amateur, 2020 U.S. Open). The big-hitting Bryson enters off a 10th at Trump National DC and T4 at the PGA.

With all that said, so many eyes will be focused on Phil Mickelson, who will turn 53 on June 16. Could the far-left golf media’s most hated man pull off a second miracle, and complete the career grand slam? Doubtful (he’s 150-1). But still a good pre-game storyline.

LIV Golf London Dustin Johnson
Dustin Johnson looks on as Phil Mickelson tees off on the 4th tee on day one of the LIV Golf Invitational London at The Centurion Club in St Albans on June 9, 2022. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP via Getty Images)
Top-10 Betting Favorites

1. Scottie Scheffler (7-1)
2. Brooks Koepka (9-1)
3. Jon Rahm (11-1)
4. Rory McIlroy (12-1)
5. Viktor Hovland (16-1)
6. Patrick Cantlay (18-1)
7. Max Homa (20-1)
7. Xander Schauffele (20-1)
9. Jordan Spieth (25-1)
10. Cameron Smith (30-1)
10. Collin Morikawa (30-1)

Full Field & Odds

Credits: Carey Hoffman, Joel Cook, USGA, Getty Images, PGA Tour Media, LIV Golf Media


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