The PGA Tour contests its third major of the season as it visits Los Angeles Country Club for the 123rd edition of the U. S. Open. Hosting the U. S. Open for the first time, Los Angeles Country Club was originally designed by George C. Thomas in 1928 and redesigned by Gil Hanse, Jim Wagner, and Geoff Shackelford in 2010. With extremely wide fairways and tricky Bermuda grass greens, this year’s U. S. Open is bound to take the sport’s best players to its limits. Last year’s edition was won by Matt Fitzpatrick, who held off Scottie Scheffler and Will Zalatoris by one stroke to win his first career major.
Player to Fade:
Don’t get me wrong, Jesse Schutte is 100% the feel good story of the week. Schutte advanced out of Final Qualifying to tee it up in this week’s U. S. Open and narrowly made it back to the hospital afterwards to witness the birth of his first child. The man has to be on Cloud 9, but at the end of the day, Schutte is making his first career start in a major and his second ever PGA Tour start. With a field as strong as this week’s and as difficult as Los Angeles Country Club is going to play, Schutte will be merely an afterthought after a missed cut on Friday.
Although he is probably considered an afterthought by many, Phil Mickelson is still continuing to defy the odds at 52 years old, as evidenced by his T-2 finish earlier this season at The Masters. With the recent PGA Tour/LIV Golf “merger,” Mickelson has got to be walking with a little extra pep in his step as he was one of the most outspoken players in favor of LIV Golf. Most importantly, we can’t forget that Mickelson has finished runner-up in the U. S. Open a record 6 times in his career, losing several in heartbreaking fashion along the way. The U. S. Open is the only major standing between Mickelson and the career Grand Slam. A California native, we predict that Mickelson will find success in his home state this week with his first top 20 finish in the U. S. Open since 2013.
The sixth ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking, Xander Schauffele has done everything besides win on tour this season, with 8 top 10’s and 12 top 25’s in 15 starts. Schauffele’s game is solid throughout the bag, ranking inside the top 12 in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, Approach the Green, Putting, and Total. A native of San Diego, California, Schauffele has a game that works well with U. S. Open courses, as he has finished inside the top 15 in all 6 of his starts in this event, including 3 top 5 finishes during that stretch. Schauffele is definitely a threat to win this week, but a top 10 finish is a lock.
Despite playing in just 2 events on the PGA Tour so far this season, Brooks Koepka has made the most of them, finishing T-2 at The Masters and winning the PGA Championship. A two-time winner of the U. S. Open and a five-time major winner, Koepka seems to have a game that always seems to rise to the occasion on the game’s biggest stage. Even though he plays for LIV Golf, Koepka is one of the best players on the planet and comes into this week’s tournament with a ton of recent momentum. With Los Angeles Country Club hosting a major for the first time, Koepka has a track record at first-time host courses, as he won the U. S. Open when it was held for the first time at Erin Hills in 2017. Koepka previously won the U. S. Open and PGA Championship in the same season back in 2018 and we predict that he will do it again as he picks up his sixth career major at the U. S. Open!