As the field assembles for the third major of the year, Los Angeles Country Club hosts the 123rd US Open.
With memories of Matt Fitzpatrick‘s stunning 18th-hole bunker play rekindled, contenders line up in Tinseltown.
Making its major debut, LACC will be the first venue in LA to stage a men’s major for 28 years.
It will also be the first in the City of Angels area to welcome the US Open in 75 years.
The venue’s last big event held was the 2017 Walker Cup, where the US thrashed GB and Ireland 19-7.
Off the back of last week’s merger, this will be the first major contested under the LIV Golf-PGA Tour banner.
So will the returning stars of the Saudi breakaway league storm back, or will the PGA Tour stalwarts prove dominant?
The outstanding star of major season so far has been Brooks Koepka.
Surrendering a two-shot lead on Sunday at The Masters, the Floridian then proved his class.
Romping to a third PGA Championship last month, the chasing pack must feel like the clock has gone back five years.
Successfully backed by us to win at Oak Hill, Koepka is now in the Scottie Scheffler-Jon Rahm price bracket, around 12/1 to win a third US Open this week.
A healthy Koepka is a threat, no question, but how about something of a bit more value in the places market?
Max at Homa?
A name well worth considering who could be a big player in LA this week is Max Homa.
Winning six times on the PGA Tour, Homa has two more under his belt this term.
Victorious in the season’s opener at the Fortinet and most recently the Farmers Insurance in January, Max will be on home turf this week.
A native of Burbank, the 32-year-old Californian has won twice in The Golden State.
Not only that, but as a winner of the 2021 Genesis Invitational, Homa has won in southern California where LACC was a previous host of the LA Open.
Superstition aside, Homa has eight top 10 finishes this season – two of which came in his last two Tour outings – and briefly featured at Augusta early on in April.
Though he has missed the cut in two out of three US Opens he has played, Homa is an interesting bet at 25/1 for 10 places with William Hill.
Strong British charge
As Matt Fitzpatrick defends his crown, there is more than a decent chance that another Briton could be passed the trophy.
Fresh from playoff woe at the Canadian Open, Tommy Fleetwood is now playing his career best.
Under the guidance of Butch Harmon, the 32-year-old from Southport has been revitalised and looks comfortable having regained his Tour card in the States.
Runner-up to Koepka in 2018 and having ended his winning drought with a second Nedbank this season, Fleetwood might be in the mix here.
With a record equally impressive as The Open with two T4 or better finishes, Fleetwood looks value at 50/1 for 6 places with 888Sport.
If Fleetwood doesn’t feature, expect Justin Rose to be in the shake-up come Sunday.
With US Open victory at Merion ten years ago his only major to date, Rosey has had a consistent ‘big four’ season.
Sixteenth at Augusta, Rose then followed up with top-10 at Oak Hill last month.
Again a feature in Toronto this past weekend, the Englishman is edging closer to more major silverware.
Then of course, there is Rory McIlroy.
On the heels of another poor final 18 holes in Canada, another missed cut in a major only weeks ago saw issues resurface.
With that said however, IF everything clicks into place, only a fool would rule Rory out.
A former US Open champion at Congressional some 12 years back, could McIlroy yet break his nine-year itch?
Others to ponder
The broad Californian crowd of players set to tee off will get the limelight this week, not least also LA’s own Collin Morikawa.
Since winning the Claret Jug at Royal St. Georges, the two-time major champ has flown under the radar of late.
With sparse rough – a rarity for a US Open – the hilly fairways and undulating greens may suit Morikawa who has moved out to 33/1 for 8 places with BoyleSports.
If we follow the same criteria, Denny McCarthy should also enjoy the putting surfaces as the Maryland native remains one of the best around on them.
Having not qualified for Augusta, McCarthy, like many, struggled in New York but here, a much rounder figure of 90/1 for 8 places with another 888Sport punt is appealing.