By Kenny Burgess Contributor
Updated 6/9/23 9:49am ET
This weekend marks the third major of the calendar year as the U.S. Open will begin on Jun. 15 and will be played at the Los Angeles Country Club in California. This is a highly anticipated event for many reasons, but most notably because it will be the first time the LACC has ever hosted the US Open and will be the first major professional tournament since a radical renovation of the course by Gil Hanse in 2010. The LACC is a 126-year-old course, and some will argue that it is even more exclusive than Augusta National. Very few of the players have seen LACC up close and should make this weekend even that much harder to predict.
While the exclusivity of the course makes it hard for us to find trends there, we can look at the history of the US Open to help point us towards a winner.
Official World Golf Rankings
While some have placed less weight on OWGR recently due to the discrepancies between the PGA and LIV Tours, history tells us your ranking matters when it comes to the US Open. Six of the last 10 winners were inside of the top 10 of the OWGR heading into the week of the US Open. Furthermore, every golfer who has won the US Open the past ten years was at least inside of the top 30 heading into the event.
Last year’s US Open winner, Matt Fitzpatrick, finished inside of the top 10 the week prior to winning his first major. He also had finished as the runner up at the Wells Fargo Championship earlier in the season. This continued the trend that in the past 10 years, the winner of the US Open had at least one podium finish prior to bringing home the US Open Championship Trophy.
Major Championship Success
It’s hard to win a major championship before coming up short prior. Many golfers must suffer some close loses before bringing home a major title. This proves to be true at the US Open, as each of the last 10 US Open winners had at least one top-10 in a major championship before they won the major.
Effectiveness Off The Tee
The LACC is known for being more forgiving off the tee than some of the previous US Open venues, but history tells us that the winner of this major needs to have their driver working heading into the tournament. Off-the-tee numbers for the last 10 U.S. Open winners back up this sentiment as Rahm was averaging +1.30 strokes gained off the tee in the three months prior, Johnson +1.27 and Bryson DeChambeau +1.16. When looking for this year’s winner, bettors should look at the players who have been elite with their driver heading into the weekend.
Who do these Trends Favor This Year?
These trends have led me to some players who I like heading into this weekend’s tournament. While all the players I’ve identified as the most likely winners are ranked highly in the OWGR, history does tell us an established golfer usually comes out on top in this event.
First is the current world number one in Scottie Scheffler. Scheffler has been dominant this season and has finished inside of the top five in each of his last four appearances. He also has finished inside of the top 10 in both majors so far this season, most notably a tie for second-place finish at the PGA Championship. Scheffler has been extremely effective off the tee this season averaging 1.096 SG gained so far this season.
Next is Patrick Cantlay who enters the weekend as the fourth ranked golfer in the OWGR. Cantlay is looking for his first major win despite having 10 top-10 finishes and 12 top-25 finishes. Cantlay has been the second-most effective player off the tee this season and is averaging .949 SG. He is a golfer who could very much be due to win his first major.
Another golfer that I like who meets our criteria heading into this weekend is the OWGR fifth ranked player, Viktor Hovland. Hovland is coming off a win in his last appearance at the Memorial Day Tournament but is still looking for his first major win. Hovland has come close to bringing home a major with three top-10 finishes on his resume. Coming off a win in his last appearance and meeting the historical criteria to win this tournament makes me think that this could be the weekend Hovland breaks through.
Finally, we have Brooks Koepka who is looking to enter an elite club this weekend. With a win at the US Open, Koepka would join Phil Mickelson, Nick Faldo, and Lee Trevino in a tie for 12th all time for major wins. Koepka enters the weekend as the 12th ranked golfer in the world and meets all the criteria for this year’s winner. He hasn’t played since his PGA Championship win, and we’ll see if he can make history this weekend.
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