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From 100 to 1

U.S. Open 2023: The top 100 players competing at LACC, ranked

June 11, 2023

You may have heard there was some golf news last week. While the sport is still trying to unpack the unexpected alliance between the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, there is golf to be played, and a major championship at that.

The 2023 U.S. Open is one of the most anticipated Opens in recent memory thanks to its host, the ultra-exclusive and ridiculously good Los Angeles Country Club. This may also not look like U.S. Opens of the past, the championship’s toughness found not in tight fairways or long rough but demanding angles that require precision and a little creativity. That the course is not hard on the eyes should make it an aesthetically pleasing watch for viewers at home.

As for the competition itself, Brooks Koepka’s torrid start to the 2023 major season has observers believing the Koepka of old—already a two-time U.S. Open winner—is finally back. Jon Rahm and Scottie Scheffler’s tug-of-war on World No. 1 will continue, Rory McIlroy is (still) seeking his first major win since 2014 while SoCal’s own Max Homa—who holds the LACC competitive course record—enters as the hometown favorite.

As the this year’s U.S. Open approaches, we ranked the top 100 players in the field, hoping to give you a leg up on your friends as you watch/bet on one of the best weeks in golf.

100-91

Ross Fisher, Barclay Brown (a), Carson Young, Jordan Smith, Paul Haley, Martin Kaymer, Michael Thorbjornsen (a), Romain Langasque, Thriston Lawrence, Sam Stevens

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Cliff Hawkins

Brown was in early contention last year at the Open Championship as an amateur and is coming off an All-American campaign at Stanford. Also on the Cardinal club is Thorbjornsen (above), who qualified for last year's U.S. Open as well and finished solo fourth at last year’s Travelers Championship. … Since winning the 2014 U.S. Open, Kaymer has missed the cut in six of his eight U.S. Open appearances. … Stevens, 56th in the FedEx Cup, ranks 20th on tour in strokes gained/off-the-tee, making him a tasty long shot.

90-81

Sebastian Munoz, Francesco Molinari, Nick Hardy, Adam Hadwin, Gordon Sargent (a), Ryan Gerard, Kevin Streelman, Austin Eckroat, Carlos Ortiz, Sergio Garcia

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Jared C. Tilton

Rory McIlroy called Sargent the best prospect he’s ever seen, and though the Vanderbilt undergrad didn’t have the Masters coming-out party that some envisioned, his eye-popping distance could make him a threat in the U.S. Open. … Garcia (above) is in the field thanks to making it through Final Qualifying. Be careful of putting any financial backing on him, though: his last top-10 in the U.S. Open came in 2016. … At one point this season Eckroat missed eight straight cuts at full-field events, but he comes into LACC with his game intact, boasting a T-2 at the Byron Nelson and T-16 at Colonial.

80-71

Eric Cole, Patrick Rodgers, Joel Dahmen, Taylor Pendrith, Luke List, Davis Thompson, Hayden Buckley, Mackenzie Hughes, Nick Taylor, Scott Stallings

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Jared C. Tilton

It’s been some time since we had a dark-horse major winner. Cole fits that billing, and has the recent performances to show he’s more than a sentimental pick with three top-25 finishes (including at the PGA Championship) in his last four starts. … In a recent text thread with a few caddies, I asked what 20-something player they thought could emerge over the next few years that no one is talking about. Two of the three caddies said Buckley, who finished T-14 at the 2022 U.S. Open. … Can Dahmen repeat last year’s out-of-nowhere Brookline run? LACC isn’t the farthest of tracks, which should give the popular pro a chance.

70-61

Matt Kuchar, Cameron Davis, Adam Schenk, Andrew Putnam, Min Woo Lee, Adam Svensson, J.T. Poston, Mito Pereira, Lucas Herbert, Alexander Noren

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Michael Reaves

Schenk is having a bit of a breakout year on tour, ranking 25th in the FedEx Cup thanks to runner-ups at the Valspar and Charles Schwab. He’s coming into LACC continuing that hot streak, finishing T-7 at the Memorial. … Following his surprising run at the Players Championship, Lee missed the cut in four straight tour starts, somewhat extinguishing those Sawgrass flames. But don’t give up on him as a flyer, especially after a top-20 finish at Oak Hill. … If you’re looking for value, Pereira (above) is gaining more than two strokes from tee-to-green over his competition the last three months, behind only Scheffler, Koepka and Cantlay in that span.

60-51

Billy Horschel, Chris Kirk, Ryan Fox, Emiliano Grillo, K.H. Lee, Adrian Meronk, Pablo Larrazabal, Aaron Wise, Victor Perez, Thomas Pieters

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Dean Mouhtaropoulos

Larrazabal (above) is coming off a two-win month on the DP World Tour. Up to No. 50 in the World Ranking, a good performance at LACC could lock up a spot on the Euro Ryder Cup team for the 40-year-old. … Perez is another individual Team Europe would like to see show out in Los Angeles. The Frenchman had a sneaky-good outing at Oak Hill (T-12) and won earlier this year in Abu Dhabi. Perez tends to play his best when conditions are at their worst, so keep an eye on the early-week scouting reports from LACC. … Pieters hasn’t played well since his move to LIV Golf and doesn’t have much of a track record at this championship. However, Pieters won the 2012 NCAA title across the street at Riviera, another George Thomas design, so don’t be surprised if he feels comfortable at the LACC confines.

50-41

Seamus Power, Brian Harman, Gary Woodland, Sepp Straka, Justin Suh, Taylor Montgomery, Keith Mitchell, Abraham Ancer, Taylor Moore, Phil Mickelson

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Ross Kinnaird

Mickelson (above) finished second at the Masters and made the cut at the PGA Championship. Though we find it very, very hard to believe the six-time runner-up finally breaks through at age 52, especially with (gestures wildly) all of this going on in professional golf. Yet maybe a sense of validation, even if it’s merely perceived, in his fight with the tour could be all the motivation Mickelson needs at LACC. … Woodland hasn’t done much since his 2019 victory at Pebble Beach but his game is trending in the right direction, ranking 10th in SG/off-the-tee and 11th in approach. … If you’re looking at a small wager for someone to make the cut, Mitchell is a sound bet. The 31-year-old has made the weekend in 12 of his last 13 events.

40-36

Patrick Reed, Harris English, Si Woo Kim, Joaquin Niemann, Tom Hoge

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Patrick Smith

Reed is 21st in strokes gained over the past three months, according to DataGolf, ahead of guys like Morikawa, Matsuyama and Burns. But somewhat surprisingly, he only has one top-10 at the U.S. Open in nine starts. … English (above) has somewhat cooled off from a nice run in the spring, but he’s not that far removed from finishing fourth and then third at the 2020 and 2021 U.S. Opens. … Much as we enjoy Hoge’s game, he feels like a stay-away at this U.S. Open, given his current form. After finishing T-3 at the Players, his best finish in eight starts (not counting the team-centric Zurich Classic) is T-43.

35-31

Denny McCarthy, Adam Scott, Russell Henley, Kurt Kitayama, Tom Kim

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David Cannon

McCarthy is coming off a heartbreak at Memorial, yet he remains formidable at the U.S. Open, with a T-7 last year. By the way, if Team Europe sets up the Ryder Cup venue in Rome anything like they did Paris—where accuracy and short game are paramount to power—McCarthy and his lights-out putting merit consideration for the U.S. club. … Scott, as always, is a tempting play for your fantasy lineup, with three top-10s in his last four starts. He also has just one top-five finish in his last 31 major starts, with his last top-10 coming in 2019. … We know a lot has gone on in the golf world the past week, so let’s take a second and remember that delightful moment when Kim (above) fell into a creek at Oak Hill. Simpler times.

30-26

Wyndham Clark, Corey Conners, Keegan Bradley, Sahith Theegala, Tommy Fleetwood

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Jamie Squire

Last month’s win at the Wells Fargo is what stands out for Clark, but his success is deeper than just one tournament. The 29-year-old has finished T-12 or better in five of his past eight starts, and ranks 15th on tour in strokes gained … Theegala logged a top-10 finish at the Masters and followed with a T-5 at the RBC Heritage, but his play since has been somewhat pedestrian, finishing T-40 or worse in his last three starts. Still, he’s a prime target if this U.S. Open produces fireworks on the leaderboard, as he ranks seventh on tour in birdie average. … Fleetwood (above) finished fourth at the 2017 U.S. Open and darn near won at Shinnecock in 2018, finishing second. But in his last four U.S. Open starts Fleetwood has finished no better than T-50.

25-21

Sungjae Im, Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, Bryson DeChambeau, Shane Lowry

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Jared C. Tilton

Johnson was a no-show at the year’s first two majors and hasn’t played well in LIV events in 2023. Nearing 40, it’s fair to wonder how much DJ has left in the tank. However, LACC is a course that plays to Johnson’s strength; only a fool would count him out. … DeChambeau awoke from his slumber at Oak Hill, challenging for the Wanamaker and ultimately finishing T-4. Given LACC’s emphasis on the short game we don’t forecast the same type of success at this U.S. Open, but his distance and iron play make him a factor no matter the venue … Rose, the 2013 U.S. Open champ, hasn’t played great at the past three U.S. Opens, but the Englishman is 12th in strokes gained over the past six months, signaling he might have one last major run in him.

20. Tony Finau

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Hector Vivas

World Ranking: 12 U.S. Open starts: 7 Best finish: 5th, 2018
He’s playing the best golf of his career, which was why it was a surprise Finau was such a nonfactor at Oak Hill and missed the cut the following weekend at Colonial. If we had to guess where Finau would fall on the playing spectrum at LACC, we’d point to his stout display prior to the past few weeks. That said, he has been feast or famine at the U.S. Open: Finished fifth in 2018 and T-8 in 2020, but did not advance to the weekend in 2019, 2021 and 2022. If this U.S. Open turns out to be more of a shootout than Opens of the past, Finau (third in birdie average) may be the beneficiary.

19. Sam Burns

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Mike Mulholland

World Ranking: 14 U.S. Open starts: 4 Best finish: T-27, 2022
We’re not trying to be cruel, but it’s reasonable to start expecting something from Burns on the biggest stages, right? As good as he’s been during the sport’s “regular” weeks (14th in the world and 12th in the FedEx Cup thanks to a WGC-Match Play win), Burns has been no better than average at the majors with just one top-25 finish in 12 career starts and a MC most recently at the PGA. However, Burns is coming into LACC playing well, finishing T-6 at Colonial and T-16 at Muirfield Village, giving hope that he can finally make some noise when it matters most.

18. Rickie Fowler

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Kevin C. Cox

World Ranking: 44 U.S. Open starts: 12 Best finish: T-2, 2014
This may seem high for the No. 44-ranked player in the world, but Fowler is 22nd in the FedEx Cup and 11th in strokes gained over the last three and six months, according to DataGolf. His well-rounded game has historically done well at the U.S. Open, and coming off back-to-back top-10s, he’s a good showing away from “Rickie Fowler, Ryder Cup captain's pick” becoming a real discussion. He’s missed the last two U.S. Opens, and was the last man on the range Thursday at Brookline as an alternate. To get his name in the mix would make for one heck of a story.

17. Jason Day

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NurPhoto

World Ranking: 22 U.S. Open starts: 10 Best finish: 2nd, 2011, 2013
It’s been quite the renaissance Day has enjoying in 2023. The former PGA champ is seventh in the FedEx Cup thanks to seven top-10s this season, highlighted by his first win in five years at the Byron Nelson. That victory is sandwiched between three missed cuts in his last four starts—including at the PGA and Memorial—but that might be due to exhaustion from a heavy playing schedule. Despite those stumbles, Day is still eighth on tour in strokes gained. He’s making his first U.S. Open start since 2020, but has two career runner-up finishes and five top-10s in the major. Day’s talents always seem to beckon for more majors; a win at LACC would complete his comeback.

16. Hideki Matsuyama

Masters 2023

Ben Walton

World Ranking: 25 U.S. Open starts: 10 Best finish: T-2, 2017
Finished fourth at The Country Club a year ago, his first real showing at this major since nearly winning in 2017 at Erin Hills. It’s been a bit of a down year for Matsuyama, entering the week 57th in the FedEx Cup, with the Players his only top-five finish. Started to show signs of life at Memorial, only to sputter on the weekend with a 75 and 76. And yet, the stats aren’t that bad, ranking 20th in strokes gained and 21st in tee-to-green. As you’d expect, the flatstick is the culprit (87th in SG/putting), but LACC should allow Matsuyama’s second-shot prowess to alleviate those issues.

15. Tyrrell Hatton

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Minas Panagiotakis

World Ranking: 16 U.S. Open starts: 6 Best finish: T-6, 2018
Has had a few runs at the U.S. Open, and certainly his no-nonsense mindset performs well at a championship that likes to test all aspects of a player’s game. Hatton has enjoyed a solid spring, finishing T-15 or better in four straight starts, and is ranked third on tour in strokes gained. While he may not reach the same heights as other stars, Hatton has a floor that’s higher than most. If you’re searching for a wildcard pick outside the top 10, give Hatton a look.

14. Justin Thomas

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Andrew Redington

World Ranking: 15 U.S. Open starts: 8 Best finish: T-8, 2020
No doubt the results haven’t been there in 2023, and a missed cut at the Memorial doesn’t inspire confidence. That said, the stats underline Thomas isn’t that far off (15th in SG/tee-to-green, ninth in SG/around-the-green) from being his old, standout self. LACC should be conducive to his game, both in allowing breathing room off the tee and putting a premium on ingenuity in approaches. But majors are not the most conducive environments for reversals.

13. Collin Morikawa

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Stuart Franklin/R&A

World Ranking: 18 U.S. Open starts: 4 Best finish: T-4, 2021
Continues to be one of the best ball-strikers in the sport (second in approach, fifth tee-to-green). Continues to struggle near the hole (112th around-the-green, 143rd SG/putting). However, the short game hasn’t proved a problem at the U.S. Open, with Morikawa finishing T-5 or better the past two years. Had been in a slump since the Masters, and showed signs of life at Memorial, only to drop out before Sunday’s round with back issues. Those can be fickle injuries, yet after dusting the cobwebs off at Muirfield Village, it’s safe to circle Morikawa as a contender at LACC.

12. Cameron Young

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World Ranking: 17 U.S. Open starts: 3 Best finish: MC
Calling it a sophomore slump is unfair, but Young hasn’t taken the leap many believed he would in 2023, ranking 47th in the FedEx Cup and 80th in strokes gained. If you’re looking for a cause, it’s the short game, ranking 140th around-the-green and 189th in SG/putting. He’s coming off a disappointment at Oak Hill, but that is the aberration at majors, finishing T-3 at last year’s PGA and runner-up at the Open Championship, plus a T-7 two months ago at the Masters. Those short-game stats may be hard to overlook, but sometimes it just takes one week to get right with the putter.

11. Cameron Smith

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Patrick Smith

World Ranking: 9 U.S. Open starts: 7 Best finish: T-4, 2015
If there was one player to worry about competitive atrophy jumping to LIV, it was the reigning Open winner; since defecting, his game on the fledgling circuit has not reached the heights of last year. However, Smith played well at Oak Hill (T-9), and LACC’s bend toward short-game dexterity should bode well for the Aussie. The only reason he’s outside the top 10 is he hasn’t played well at the U.S. Open; since finishing T-4 at Chambers Bay in 2015, Smith’s best USGA finish in six following starts is a T-38, and has missed the cut in his last two appearances.

10. Jordan Spieth

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Ross Kinnaird

World Ranking: 10 U.S. Open starts: 11 Best finish: Win, 2015
Since winning the U.S. Open in 2015 this has not been Spieth’s tournament, a T-19 his best finish in seven starts since his triumph at Chambers Bay. So why is Spieth ranked so high? More than most U.S. Open venues, LACC will value cunning and inventiveness from its players, traits mostly seen at the Masters and Open Championship … the majors where Spieth plays his best. His wrist injury remains slightly troubling but he’s coming in hot, finishing T-6 or better in six of his last 12 stars.

9. Max Homa

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Eston Parker/ISI Photos

World Ranking: 7 U.S. Open starts: 4 Best finish: T-47, 2022
Homa is well aware of what he hasn’t done at majors, so let’s focus on the positive. Eight top-10s in 16 PGA Tour starts this season, including two wins and a runner-up; sixth in strokes gained and fifth in sg/putting. He also shot a competitive course-record 61 and won the 2013 Pac-12 Championship on LACC (which will be mentioned roughly 10,000 times over the next week). Being the hometown favorite brings added pressure and expectations are through the roof, but Homa has relished the opportunity playing at Riviera. This is the place to get the major monkey off his back.

8. Patrick Cantlay

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Andrew Redington

World Ranking: 4 U.S. Open starts: 7 Best finish: T-14, 2022
For all that’s been made about Cantlay’s performance—or perceived lack thereof—at majors, the man has finished T-14 or better in three straight major starts, including a T-9 three weeks ago at the PGA. His T-30 at Memorial was his first finish outside the top 25 in 10 starts, and he enters LACC ranked second in off-the-tee and fifth in strokes gained. One thing Cantlay needs to work on is closing; he’s 42nd in final-round scoring this year.

7. Viktor Hovland

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Andy Lyons

World Ranking: 5 U.S. Open starts: 4 Best finish: T-12, 2019
Of all the rankings, we struggled with Hovland the most, because anything outside the top three seems disrespectful. Hovland is coming off the biggest win of his career at Memorial, finished T-2 at the PGA and is fifth in total strokes gained over the last six months, according to DataGolf. So why is the World No. 5 down to No. 7 in our ranking? Despite his short-game improvement, Hovland’s performance around the greens remains a work in progress. The rough at Muirfield Village and Oak Hill required a chop-it-and-run-it approach that, for tour pros at least, tends to compact the variance of what could go right and wrong. LACC will require a bit more creativity, and on that front Hovland could be in trouble.

6. Rory McIlroy

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Minas Panagiotakis

World Ranking: 3 U.S. Open starts: 14 Best finish: Win, 2011
Revenge can be a hell of a drug. Resentment can be destructive. McIlroy has every right to feel whatever he’s feeling after last week’s events, and however he plays, fans and media will do their best to correlate the two. Whatever truth there will be to that parallel, we’re betting on McIlroy to show up and compete. He’s finished T-9 or better in his last four U.S. Open starts, and the lack of rough should allow the Ulsterman to spray his tee shots without too severe a penalty.

5. Jon Rahm

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Patrick Smith

World Ranking: 2 U.S. Open starts: 7 Best finish: Win, 2021
We had him as high as No. 2 on the list, not only for (gestures wildly to the last five months) but for his track record at this championship, where he’s won, finished T-3 and entered last year’s final round in contention before falling back to T-12. It’s fair to wonder if Rahm’s heater is beginning to run out of steam; conversely, to call Rahm’s start to 2023 a “heater” signifies it’s something he’s unable to continue, and that’s a call we’re not willing to totally make.

4. Scottie Scheffler

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Kevin C. Cox

World Ranking: 1 U.S. Open starts: 5 Best finish: T-2, 2022
Has been lost with the putter, which seems like a problem heading into the U.S. Open. The flip side: He almost won the Memorial despite giving nearly nine shots to the field on the greens. The ball-striking has been that good. In the two deepest fields in golf this season he’s finished first (Players) and tied for second (PGA) and tied for second at last year’s U.S. Open. In fact, he’s finished 10th or better in eight of his last 12 major starts. That is Koepka-level elevation at the four tournaments that matter the most, and expect the trend to continue in L.A.

3. Matt Fitzpatrick

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Andrew Redington

World Ranking: 8 U.S. Open starts: 8 Best finish: Win, 2022
A missed cut at the PGA is the only blemish over the past two months for the reigning U.S. Open winner. Despite the first half of his season being plagued by injuries, Fitzpatrick was 17th in strokes gained entering the RBC Canadian Open and his approach game is starting to come back to form. LACC calls for both power and precision, strategy and gumption, and as Fitzpatrick showed at Brookline last summer, he does not fall short on any of those prerequisites.

2. Brooks Koepka

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Maddie Meyer/PGA of America

World Ranking: 13 U.S. Open starts: 9 Best finish: Win, 2017, 2018
After a one-year absence Brooks Koepka, Destroyer of Worlds, is back, finishing second and first in the year’s first two majors. There’s also that not-so-insignificant tidbit that Koepka has been a monster at this championship; though he finished 55th last year, his worst showing in his previous four appearances was T-4. The only worry for Koepka is that this U.S. Open may not resemble other U.S. Opens in that LACC could yield its share of low scores. The reason this is a knock on Koepka is he plays his best when the course is at its toughest. Conversely, the bigger shock would be to not see his name on the board come Sunday morning, and we don’t envision that happening.

1. Xander Schauffele

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Jared C. Tilton

World Ranking: 6 U.S. Open starts: 6 Best finish: T-3, 2019
It could be a slugfest or a shootout. Doesn’t matter; Schauffele has finished T-7 or better in six of his seven career U.S. Open starts and the Californian arrives in L.A. playing well, ranked fourth on tour in strokes gained. He is the best player in golf without a major, and it’s time to shed that label.