U.S. Open: Preview & FAQs

The 123rd U.S. Open is set to tee off at Los Angeles Country Club with Matt Fitzpatrick defending his title. We preview golf’s third major of the season.

We answer some frequently questions and give you the major tee times ahead of what is probably the most brutal of golf’s four majors each year. The USGA, who run the tournament, usually set the course up difficult with penal thick rough and fast-running greens.

It has been 75 years since the U.S. Open came to Tinseltown when Ben Hogan won the first of four titles at Riviera. Three-time U.S. Open winner Tiger Woods is again absent, however, as he recovers from ankle surgery following his withdrawal during the third round of the Masters.

Golf news has been dominated recently by the merger between the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, which runs LIV Golf, and the PGA and DP World Tours. 15 LIV golfers will compete this week including a quartet of past champions in Bryson DeChambeau (2020), Brooks Koepka (2017, 2018), Dustin Johnson (2016) and Martin Kaymer (2014). 

Fellow past major champions and LIV golfers to qualify include Cameron Smith, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Patrick Reed.

When is the tournament being played?

June 15-18, 2023.

Where is it being held?

The North Course at Los Angeles Country Club, California.

Who won in 2022?

Matt Fitzpatrick hit one of the shots of the year when he launched a 9-iron from a steep-faced bunker on the side of the 18th fairway, setting up a par and a closing 2-under 68 for a one-shot victory over Scottie Scheffler and Will Zalatoris at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Scheffler and Zalatoris each had birdie chances on the 18th hole that would have forced a playoff. Fitzpatrick won the RBC Heritage in April at Harbour Town Golf Links, another course where pinpoint accuracy is essential. He could become the first player to defend this title since Brooks Koepka in 2018.

Who are the favourites to win?

Scottie Scheffler and Masters champion John Rahm are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the world respectively and are the favourites. In 13 tournaments this year, Scheffler is yet to finish outside the top 12 with seven top-10 finishes in his last nine majors. Rahm could be suited to this course with its length and wide fairways as he tries to regain the title he won in 2021. Keep an eye out for Collin Morikawa who won the PGA Championship in 2020 and the Open in 2021. He’s a local favourite, born in Los Angeles. 

Brooks Koepka is a popular tip after he tied for second at the Masters behind Jon Rahm before winning his fifth major at last month’s PGA Championship – the first LIV Golf member to win a major – beating world No. 5 Viktor Hovland, also in good form and due to win his first major, and Scheffler by two strokes. Koepka could join Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only players to have both won the PGA Championship and U.S. Open three times.

It’s now 12 years since world No. 3 McIlroy won his first major title at the U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club in Maryland. His last major came in 2014, and he tied for seventh this season at the PGA Championship having missed the cut at Augusta. Could this be the event for McIlroy to get back on the major trail? Last week he missed out on a third consecutive RBC Canadian Open victory, finishing tied-ninth.

Other players to watch

World No. 4 Patrick Cantlay, Australia’s reigning Open champion Cameron Smith and South Korea’s Sungjae Im.

What are the groups to look out for?

Thursday (local times)

Starting at hole 1

7.40am: Shane Lowry, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood

8.02am: Gary Woodland, Adam Scott, Corey Conners

8.13am: Collin Morikawa, Max Homa, Scottie Scheffler

1.32pm: Cameron Smith, Sam Bennett, Matt Fitzpatrick

1.54pm: Brooks Koepka, Hideki Matsuyama, Rory McIlroy

Starting at hole 10

7.40am: Bryson DeChambeau, Francesco Molinari, Tyrrell Hatton

8.02am: Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day

8.13am: Patrick Reed, Matt Kuchar,Si Woo Kim

8.24am: Xander Schauffele, Viktor Hovland, Jon Rahm

12.59pm: Phil Mickelson, Padraig Harrington, Keegan Bradley

1.32pm: Sam Burns, Dustin Johnson, Keith Mitchell

1.43pm: Tony Finau, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Cantlay

What’s the golf course like?

This par-70 course measures a long 7,423 yards. It’s situated in the upscale neighbourhood of Beverly Hills and underwent an extensive renovation by Gil Hanse in 2010 who returned it to its former glory, with thrilling shots played between valleys, ridges and hills and views of downtown LA. There are five par-3s and one of them, the seventh, is 284 yards while the 11th is 290 yards.

What will the weather be like?

For rounds one and two it will be bright and around 20°C. Temperatures might creep up to 22°C over the weekend. Saturday looks like being the sunniest day. The wind looks like it will only be 5-10 mph, which should make the test less brutal. 

What is the format and how many players are in the field?

The U.S. Open is a four-round, 72-hole stroke-play championship. The 156-player field will be cut after Friday’s second round with the top 60 and ties playing Saturday and Sunday.

If players are tied after 72 holes, how is the winner determined?

The USGA sets a two-hole aggregate play-off. If still tied after two holes, players will compete in sudden death holes until a winner is crowned.

What does the winner get?

The winner lifts the U.S. Open Trophy, which does not have a particular name. Dating back to 1947, it’s 18 inches tall and made of pure sterling silver. While the trophy must be returned each year, the winner gets a gold medal to keep, known as the Jack Nicklaus Medal since 2012.

What’s the prize money?

The 2023 U.S. Open has a record $20 million purse, which is a $2.5 million increase from last year’s tournament. It’s the largest ever purse for a major. The winner gets $3.6 million.

What other perks does the winner get?

The winner receives 100 world ranking points and 600 FedEx Cup points. Other benefits include a five-plus season exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year U.S. Open exemption, as well berths in the next five years of the other three majors

Why is the U.S. Open of extra significance to Phil Mickelson?

Because he needs a U.S. Open win to complete the career grand slam of winning all four majors. Agonisingly, he has finished second six times.

How many times has Tiger won this event?

Tiger has won three U.S. Opens, the last coming in 2008 at Torrey Pines. He previously won in 2002 at Bethpage Black and in 2000 at Pebble Beach.

Who has won the most U.S. Opens?

Willie Anderson, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus hold the record for most victories, each winning four.

Where will the 2024 U.S. Open be held?

The No. 2 course at Pinehurst in North Carolina will host in 2024, the fourth time the U.S. Open will be played there. Pinehurst is an ‘anchor’ host site with U.S. Opens in 2029, 2035, 2041 and 2047 also to be played there.

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