The North Course at Los Angeles Country Club debuts this week as it hosts the first major championship in the club's history. Gil Hanse was in charge of restoring this George C. Thomas classic in 2010. The third major of the season will play 7,423 yards as a Par-70.
Scottie Scheffler (6/1) continues to torch the golf ball tee-to-green each time he's in the field. Streak is now at 15 of T12 or better. The last four events, all on Bentgrass, have produced T5 or better. Texan is ranked No. 1 in the world and will be looking for his second major. Last two have resulted in T7 in 2021 at Torrey Pines and T2 last year at The Country Club. Reports suggest he's possibly putting a new putter in his bag this week. That's the club possibly holding him back. He's the man to beat this week.
If Jon Rahm (10/1) is going to win his second major of the season he'll need to tune up his driver after T50 at Oak Hill and T16 at the Memorial. Winner at George C. Thomas' Riviera Country Club in February, he also posted his two best U.S. Open paydays in California. Won the 2021 title at Torrey Pines after sharing third at Pebble Beach in 2019. Signed for T12 last year in his defense. Four wins on the season.
Brooks Koepka (11/1) is the alpha on the block among his peers when it comes to collecting majors. The fifth and most recent major title was the PGA Championship last month. Winner of two U.S. Opens, in back-to-back fashion no less, he relishes the toughest courses against the deepest fields. Healthy, hungry, and looking to go back-to-back in the majors this season.
Rory McIlroy (12/1) has been stuck on four major championship victories since 2014. Recent form (T9-T7-T7) suggests the streak could be nearing an end. Took his name off the media list early in the week, focusing instead on extending his streak of top-10 finishes in this event to five straight. There's room to move the golf ball here and precision off the tee is his biggest weapon.
Patrick Cantlay (16/1) now lives in Jupiter, Florida, but he's comfortable in these parts after growing up in Long Beach. Last four majors have produced T14 or better. Former UCLA Bruin has the full bag required, plus his results on Bentgrass pop off the page. Looking to continue the trend of first-time major winners at this event. Koepka and Jordan Spieth are the only exceptions to this rule since 2012. Solo third at Riviera in February was his best in eight starts. Never MC in the U.S. Open.
Viktor Hovland (16/1) posted all four rounds in the red at the Memorial two weeks ago to win in a playoff. Combined with T2 at the PGA Championship and T7 at the Masters earlier this season and trends are converging. The Norwegian was the low amateur in 2019 at Pebble Beach with T12. First U.S. Open as a professional in 2020, he signed for T13 at Winged Foot. He WD at Torrey Pines (eye) and MC last year.
LACC follows Oakdale last week as a brand-new challenge for most of the field. The North Course plays to 7,423 yards at Par-70. There are five Par-3 holes, three Par-5 holes, and 10 Par-4 holes. Blind shots, canting fairways, barranca, and pure Bentgrass greens will test all 14 clubs and the mentality of handling the situation.
In true U.S. Open fashion, five Par-4 holes are 480 yards or better. The five, Par-3 holes stretch from 124 yards to 284 yards and everything in between. Scoring chances perhaps can be found at the short No. 6 playing just 330 yards as Par-4 and No. 8 playing 547 yards as a Par-5.
The field is composed of 49 of the top 50 OWGR, 10 previous winners, 19 local qualifiers, and 19 amateurs among others from the 156 total players. The prize pool will be announced later in the week. Last year it was $17.5 million total plus 600 FedExCup points.
Defending Champion: Matt Fitzpatrick (28/1)
The Englishman joined Jack Nicklaus as the only two players to win the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Open on the same course. Led the field in birdies (19) and picked up his first top 10 in this event. Enters this week as the champion at RBC Heritage the week after the Masters. Last two starts were T9 at the Memorial and T20 at RBC Canadian Open. Only Ben Hogan, Curtis Strange, and Brooks Koepka have successfully defended this title.
Others to Consider:
Xander Schauffele (20/1): He's never MC in six trips. Worst payday was last year (T14). The five previous paycheques were T7 or better.
Jordan Spieth (20/1): Only top 10 in this event for the Texan was his 2015 title at Chambers Bay outside Seattle. Another non-traditional venue is on the cards this week where his shot-making and creativity will be on display.
Dustin Johnson (35/1): Top 10 machine at Riviera with 10 from 12 weekends. Also owns 22 top-10 paydays from 45 major championship weekends. 2016 winner at Oakmont.
Collin Morikawa (35/1): Born and raised in nearby La Canada, he played this track in the 2017 Walker Cup with Scheffler. If his back spasms are behind him, watch out. He won the PGA Championship on Bentgrass at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco in 2020. The former Cal golfer loves Riviera as well, running T2 and T6 the last two years.
Rickie Fowler (45/1): 2014 runner-up at a Gil Hanse restoration (Pinehurst No. 2). Recent form has produced back-to-back top-10 paydays at Colonial and the Memorial. In his last 13, he's hit the top 25 10 times. Cashed in his last four visits at this event but DNS the last two years.
SG: Tee to Green
Everyone on that list above is 45/1 or better. Half of those players have also won a major championship. Working the ball through the canyon and around the barranca is required this week. The restored green complexes aren't going to be receptive, and the canted fairways will run out into Bermuda (!) rough. Playing the ball on the ground and in the air won't be a traditional U.S. Open challenge.
Finding the right spot off the tee and hitting GIR will always be the first two parts of the equation. On board, the pure Bentgrass will roll true so proper line and lagging will help reduce strokes and stress. Many pin placements will force smart approach shots to the fatter portions of the putting surfaces. At least there isn't Poa annua to worry about!
Patrick Reed (70/1): Six straight in this event. Room to play off the tee helps, but his short game carries the freight.
Russell Henley (110/1): T4 at Augusta National started a run of five of seven T19 or better, including T16-T16 in his last two outings. Searching for his first top 10 in a U.S. Open. Shared the 54-hole lead at Torrey Pines before fading on Sunday.
Andrew Putnam (200/1): West Coast native rolls in from T29 at Colonial followed by T5 at the Memorial. Super putter.