For the first time in 75 years, the US Open heads to Los Angeles as the world’s best players will compete at the uber-private Los Angeles Country Club. With very little familiarity or course history to work with, what are some key handicapping angles that golf bettors need to be watching this week? WagerTalk golf handicapper Andy Lang shares his thoughts on the 2023 US Open with betting tips, DFS recommendations and players to avoid.
US Open Course | Los Angeles Country Club
Los Angeles Country Club is a very private club with strict rules such as no golf shorts ever, sports coats must be worn after 6pm in the clubhouse, and men’s slacks must be tailored. Women’s skirts can’t be more than four inches above the knees and there can’t be any slogans on your clothes. It has been a very private place that has agreed to open itself up for this tournament, and the point is, we really don’t know a ton about this course.
The word I would use to describe it is: Quirky. There are some bizarre holes with characteristics that we’ve never seen at US Open. Here are some of the most interesting holes to me:
- 6th Hole – 330 yard Par 4 – Blind tee shot, small green that can be described as an elevated island. Some guys might try and drive the green, but if they miss, they can be in trouble with bunkers and rough.
- 7th Hole – 284 yard Par 3 – Players will probably try and land the ball before the green and chase it up.
- 11th Hole – 290 yard Par 3, – Bunkers in front of the green, big slope down if you miss to the right…some guys might actually lay up short of the bunkers on their drive.
- 13th Hole – 507 yard Par 4 – Left-to-right slope in the fairway, right of the green is dead with a huge bunker and downhill runoff.
- 15th Hole – Par 3 that can play 80 yards or 145 yards depending on where they put the pin.
- 16th Hole – 542 yard Par 4 – Fairway bunker on the left where drives will land.
2023 US Open Field
Most US Opens favor the bombers, but that’s not the case this year. There are three par 5’s, two of them are short where everyone can reach in two if they hit the fairway. The third one is well over 600 yards and I don’t think anyone can reach it in two unless something insane happens on the drive. There isn’t a lot of rough, but the well-mowed runoff areas can be steep, so wayward approaches can roll downhill quite a bit. Fairways slope quite often. Bunkers and greens are pretty big. The last stretch of holes from 13-18 are the most difficult part of the course, so players are going to need to score on the front nine most likely.
From what I know about the greens, they appear to have a lot of slopes. There are different tiers on a lot of them which will create some interesting pin placement that will completely change the yardage of a hole from day to day. One of the par 3’s can play less than 90 yards or over 140 yards if they want to get real tricky with the pins. Missing fairways doesn’t look to be a huge penalty, but putting the ball on the correct side of the fairway/rough is going to be important as the holes look to reward good drive placement making approaches much easier. I think approach is going to be the key stat this week. If you put the ball on the correct tier on the green, you can birdie. Several holes have greens above or below the tee/fairway making distance control essential (caddies better be on their A-game in this department this week). If you miss the green, bunkers and runoffs will eat you up and leaving yourself long putts that have to go over and across slopes and level changes will make for a plethora of three putts.
Let’s take a look at the Total Strokes Gained top-15 for this year.
1. Scottie Scheffler
2. Jon Rahm
3. Xander Schauffele
4. Patrick Cantlay
5. Rory McIlroy
6. Jason Day
7. Viktor Hovland
8. Tony Finau
9. Tyrell Hatton
10. Colin Morikawa
11. Rickie Fowler
12. Justin Rose.
13. Max Homa
14. Wyndham Clark
15. Jordan Spieth
US Open Players to Avoid
Sung Jae Im – Im has completely lost his iron play the last few tournaments, and there’s no chance I would bet on him or put him in fantasy lineups this week. The last month he’s -0.29 Strokes Gained on approach and only +0.05 around the green. So he’s been bad on approaches, and he’s not getting done around the green either which spells disaster to me at this course. The reason I bring him up is that he is 16th for the year in Total Strokes Gained, and he’s +0.28 Strokes Gained on approach for the year, but that doesn’t tell the story as to what form he’s in right now.
Collin Morikawa – Ball strikers course with an emphasis on approaches screams Collin Morikawa, but I’ll pass on him this week. He just withdrew two weeks ago with back spasms, and he hasn’t finished in the top-25 since The Masters, and he has no finishes inside the top-10 since February. His approach numbers are great, but his putting the last 30 days is awful as he’s -0.26 in that time span. Bad putting and back spasms for a guy who is priced as a top-10 guy….no thanks.
Jordan Spieth – Spieth and US Opens haven’t been a good combination for a while, even though they’re played at different courses. Since his win in 2015, his best finish is 19th, and he has three finishes 65th or worse. He’s been inconsistent as his last four finishes are 5th, MC, 29th, MC, and he has negative Strokes Gained in putting and around the green in the last month.
US Open DFS Darlings
Rickie Fowler ($7,500) – Fowler is No. 11 in total Strokes Gained this season, and he’s finished 15th or better in six out of seven tournaments. He’s +0.92 Strokes Gained on approach.
Wyndham Clark ($7,500) – Clark only has one missed cut this year, and is No. 14 in total Strokes Gained, including +0.95 approach.
Patrick Reed ($7,500) – He’s finished fourth at The Masters and 18th at The PGA Championship this year, and just seems to always show up in the majors. He’s made the cut six times in a row at the US Open.
Rest Of The Lineup: Justin Rose ($7,700); Tommy Fleetwood ($7,900) and Scottie Scheffler ($11,400)
US Open Best Bet
Brooks Koepka to Finish Top-10 (+120)
Koepka has finished first and second at the first two majors this year. He’s mentally tougher than almost everyone in the game, and including LIV and PGA Tour players, he has the best Strokes Gained figures for approach in this field. His putting is elite this year as well, and after he finished runner up at The Masters, he talked about making adjustments to get the win at The PGA Championship and he went out and delivered. I expect him to be in the mix for the win on Sunday, and getting plus-money on a top-10 finish is a great price.