Four days removed from Nick Taylor's win at the RBC Canadian Open, the 35-year-old snapped the country's 69-year drought at its marquee event. He defeated Tommy Fleetwood on the fourth playoff hole with an iconic 72-foot putt for an eagle. Shifting gears, the PGA Tour travels to the Los Angeles Country Club for the 123rd U.S. Open this week. The season's third major, the venue is set to host the event for the first time on the highly regarded north course. Won a year ago by Matthew Fitzpatrick, the United Kingdom native carded a final round 68, including a clutch shot from a fairway bunker on the 18th hole to save par. This helped the 28-year-old edge out Scottie Scheffler and Will Zalatoris by one shot.
Nestled in between the heart of many iconic landmarks, including the Griffith Park Observatory, the Hollywood sign, and the Playboy Mansion, Los Angeles Country Club was designed by American golf course architect George C. Thomas Jr. in 1928. Measuring over 7,400 yards from the back tees, it offers an incredible test of uneven terrain and sloping fairways. A par 70 track, the layout features three par-5s and ten par-4s. The venue is also known for its iconic par three holes. With five of them on the property, three measure over 225 yards. Along with this, the USGA also set up the iconic 15th hole. The shortest par three in modern U.S. Open history is just 78 yards from the forward tees.
One of the largest fields of any tournament on the PGA Tour, 156 golfers are set to tee it this week in search of the Claret Jug. 23 of the top 25 players in the official world golf rankings will attend Los Angeles Country Club. This includes current world number one Scottie Scheffler and Jon Rahm, who is looking to become the first player to win the Masters and the U.S. Open in the same season since Jordan Spieth in 2015. There will also be 18 amateur qualifiers, including Barclay Brown of the Stanford Cardinals, who shot ten under 132 at Hillcrest to get into the event. Meanwhile, Ben Carr is also set to play in the first U.S. Open of his young career. Recently completing his fifth season at Georgia Southern last month, the 2023 Sun Belt Golfer of the Yeat finished runner-up to Sam Bennet at the 2022 U.S. Amateur last summer at The Ridgewood Country Club.
Still amid one of the hottest stretches of golf over the last calendar year, Scheffler has yet to finish outside the top 12 in any of his starts dating back to last October. Nearly capturing his second major trophy at the PGA Championship last month at Oak Hill, the 26-year-old finished T-2 after a final round 65. He also collected a third-place finish in his previous event at the Memorial Tournament, despite being at the bottom of the field in strokes gained, putting (-8.58). The University of Texas product is still one of the best ball strikers on the planet, ranking first in the field in strokes gained tee to green (2.775) and in greens in regulation (73.89). With two top-ten finishes in his last two starts at the U.S. Open, if the New Jersey native can heat up with the flat stick, look for him to win.
Entering his name as this generation's best major championship golfer, Koepka captured the PGA Championship for the fifth major win of his career. The West Palm Beach native followed up his 66 on Saturday with a final found 67 to capture the victory. He was also close to winning his first green jacket at the Masters Tournament in April by holding the solo lead through 29 and a half holes. Now back healthy after undergoing multiple knee surgeries, the 33-year-old thrives at challenging courses and in difficult U.S. Open playing conditions. Already twice a winner at this event, including his first major victory in 2017, Koepka heads into this one well-rested and should be among the final groups on Sunday afternoon.
Finally beginning to round into form after struggling during the beginning of the season, Smith has turned in three straight top-11 finishes on LIV Golf. The 29-year-old also finished T-9 at the PGA Championship after posting a final round 65. While he is still struggling with his driver, look for Los Angeles Golf and Country Club to set up better for the game of the Australian native with wider fairways. Meanwhile, the ten-year veteran remains elite with his approach play, allowing him to navigate tight lies and scramble to save par. Likely to come down to a putting contest on the speedy U.S. Open greens, Smith can close when in contention by virtue of his wins at the Open Championship and the Players Championship a year ago.
Already a four-time winner on the PGA Tour this season, Rahm posted victories at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, the American Express, and the Genesis Invitational. The Spaniard also captured the season's first major with his win at the Masters Tournament in April. However, the Arizona State product has struggled in his two most recent starts, including a tie for 50th at the PGA Championship and a tie for 16th at the Memorial Tournament. Nonetheless, the current world number two has become an outstanding major championship player after struggling early in his career. He has posted three top-25 finishes in his last four appearances at the US Open, including a victory at Torrey Pines in 2021.
Searching for his first victory since last August's BMW Championship, Cantlay has done everything but enter the win this season. The 31-year-old has five top-ten finishes, including a T-2 at the Shriners Children's Open and a third-place finish at the RBC Heritage. Moreover, the current world number four has also recorded two top-ten finishes in his last three appearances at a major, including a tie for ninth at this year's PGA Championship and a tie for eighth at last year's Open Championship. One of the best players in the field off the tee, Cantlay, is hitting over 66 percent of his fairways in regulation. The California native is also averaging more than two strokes gained tee to green over his last 36 rounds. With 16/1 odds, it's only a matter of time before the UCLA alumn wins a major.
One of the best U.S. Open players in the field, Schauffele has an outstanding track record at the tournament. The seven-time PGA Tour winner has finished inside the top ten in five of his six appearances at the event, including a tie for third at Pebble Beach in 2019 and a fifth-place finish at Winged Foot in 2020. The San Diego native heads into Los Angeles Country Club in great form. He has not missed a cut in his last 15 events and has recorded two top-five finishes in his previous five starts including a runner-up at the Wells Fargo Championship. Consistent in all areas of his game, Schauffele is an outstanding iron player with the short game to navigate the tricky short-game shots you need to succeed at a U.S. Open.