US Open

US Open 2023: 10-year trends point to...

US Open leaderboard
Who do the numbers guide us to?

Dave Tindall looks at the make-up of the last 10 US Open champions to try and find this year's winner at Los Angeles Country Club...

Is it fair to say we're due one in these 10-year trends previews?

So far in 2023, our US Masters top scorer Jordan Spieth finished fourth at Augusta National while Scottie Scheffler, the No.1 trends pick at the US PGA, was runner-up at Oak Hill.

Go back to last year and Southern Hills winner Matt Fitzpatrick had ranked tied second in my 2022 US Open preview.

That came two Majors on from No.1 ranked Rory McIlroy finishing runner-up at the US Masters.

Trends have their limitations, of course, but they do seem to be pointing us in the right direction.

For this year's US Open at Los Angeles Country Club I've listed 10 categories: World Ranking, Nationality, Age, US Open Form, US Open Experience, Recent Majors Form, Major Winner, Current Form, Course Fit and Week Before.

The maximum score is 72 and a few weren't far off it. All will be revealed later but, for now, here's a look at each category.

World Ranking

Let's use this category to explain the points system again.

The key is frequency. So, in this article, it's how many times something has happened in the last 10 years of the US Open. Looking at world rankings, all of the last 10 winners were ranked inside the top 30 in the OWGR.

Breaking it down further, six of those were ranked inside the world's top 10 so the cream really does rise to the top. That leads to the following scores, with anyone inside the world's top 10 getting 6pts.

Ranked in world's top 10 = 6pts
Ranked 11th to 30th = 4pts
Ranked outside the top 30 = 0pts

Nationality

Bryson DeChambeau wins US Open.jpg

This has traditionally been a good tournament for home American players but Europeans - Jon Rahm and Matt Fitzpatrick - have won the last two. US golfers have been successful in six of the last 10 editions so, again, using frequency, it's 6pts for all American players teeing it up this week and 4pts for Europeans.

American = 6pts
Europeans = 4pts
Rest of World = 0pts

Age

The average age for a US Open winner over the last 10 years is 28.3. That's around seven years younger than the average age of an Open Championship winner across the same period. In other words, if you fancy an older winner of a Major, it's best to wait until Hoylake next month.

With that average in mind, I'm going to tweak the methodology I've used previously in this category. Although seven of the last 10 winners of the US Open were in their 20s it seems unfair to award a bunch of points to someone aged 21 but hardly anything to someone who has just turned 30. The latter is far closer to that average age of 28.3.

So I'll instead award most points to players nearer the 10-year average (let's round it to 28). Those up to five years either side of 28 score 8pts while those beyond those parameters score just 2pts. That seems fair given that eight of the last 10 winners were aged between 23 and 33. The exceptions were 21-year-old Jordan Spieth and 35-year-old Gary Woodland.

Aged 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 = 8pts
Aged 22 or under/34 or over = 2pts

US Open Form

All of the last 10 US Open winners had already posted a top 25 in the event. That included Fitzpatrick, who had finished 12th at both Shinnecock in 2018 and Pebble Beach in 2019.

Zooming in closer, six of those 10 had managed a top 10, including 2021 Torrey Pines champion Rahm.

Top 10 in a US Open = 6pts
11th-25th in a US Open = 4pts
No top 25 in a US Open = 0pts

US Open Experience

Brooks Koepka at Augusta.jpg

Webb Simpson won the US Open at Olympic Club on just his second start in the event. However, that is extremely rare.

Conversely, it hasn't been a good tournament for those who have played in it many times with none of the last 10 winners having appeared in nine or more.

The sweet spot in terms of past appearances is five to eight inclusive. That applies to each of the last five winners.

Played from five to eight previous US Opens = 8pts
Played in three or four US Opens = 2pts

Recent Majors Form

Past US Open winners haven't come out of thin air; they've advertised their credentials with a strong performance in a recent Major.

Fitzpatrick had finished fifth (US PGA) and 14th (US Masters) in his previous two and that added to past trends. Overall, the numbers are very strong: nine of the last 10 US Open winners had posted a top 10 in at least one of their previous two Majors.

Top 10 in one of their last two Majors = 9pts
No top 10 in last two Majors = 1pt

Major Winner

Although having a strong run in a recent Major is seen as a big plus, is it an advantage to have won one already?

History says not. Six of the last seven US Open champions hadn't won a Major before and, over our study period, seven of the last 10 were Majorless going into the week.

Won a Major = 3pts
Not won a Major = 7pts

Current Form

Common sense says you don't go into the US Open searching for your 'A' game. And there is decent evidence that you have to be in good nick to meet the demands of a testing US Open track.

That's shown by eight of the last 10 winners posting a top 10 in one or both of their previous two PGA Tour starts. Fitzpatrick had been 10th in Canada the week before his 2022 triumph.

Top 10 in one of two previous PGA Tour starts = 8pts
No top 10 in one of two previous starts = 2pts

Course Fit

Jon Rahm US Open win trophy.jpg

With the tournament moving around, we don't have the benefit of course form to work with. But there are certainly some trends that emerge when looking back at the last 10 years and they should apply again for the 7,423-yard par 70 Los Angeles Country Club.

Gradually in that run it became clear that bigger hitters were starting to dominate. But a little nuance needs adding here. Those long drivers weren't just spraying it everywhere; many were also hitting it both long and fairly straight.

It's fair to say that a US Open winner needs to be a good driver and that's backed up by this stat: all the last 10 winners ranked in the top 35% for Total Driving in the season of their win.

Again, we can narrow it down a little further as seven of the 10 were in the top 25%. Rahm topped the Total Driving (a mix of Driving Distance and Driving Accuracy) charts in 2021, Gary Woodland was 2nd in Total Driving for 2019, the year he won at Pebble Beach, while Matt Fitzpatrick ended last season ranked 15th for TD.

Note: to be in the top 25% for Total Driving this season means a place in the top 49 on the current rankings. For the top 35% it's up to 68th.

Top 25% in current Total Driving stats = 8pts
Top 26-35% in current Total Driving stats = 2pts

Week Before

Is it a smart idea to play the week before what many regard as the most gruelling tournament of the season?

Some might say it's best to stay tournament sharp by teeing it up the week before; others may argue it's better to go in fresh. In addition, having the week off would allow players to get to the tournament site earlier which is especially helpful if it's an unfamiliar course as it is this year.

The stats are mixed but if we widen the lens a little, seven of the last 10 winners had at least one week off in the previous fortnight ahead of their US Open win.

Had at least a week off in one of the previous two = 7pts
Played both the previous two events = 3pts

And that's all 10 categories complete. So...

The Top Points Scorers

The scores are in and - drumroll - these are the top eight:

70 Patrick Cantlay
68 Scottie Scheffler
62 Viktor Hovland, Matt Fitzpatrick
60 Jon Rahm
59 Xander Schauffele
56 Tony Finau
55 Brooks Koepka, Cameron Smith
54 Collin Morikawa

LIV Players

It's been pretty obvious that LIV players are still a big factor in Majors, with Brooks Koepka taking victory in the US PGA. But how do we score them for Total Driving?

If Koepka and Cam Smith were in the top 25% on the PGA Tour's current list, both would see their scores elevated to 62pts, ranking them tied third. However, it seems generous to award those points given that two seasons ago Koepka was 93rd for TD and Smith 151st.

So, Patrick Cantlay it is, the local Californian available at 20.019/1 on the exchange.

The American is 31 years old, 4th in the World Rankings, has played in seven US Opens, making the top 15 in both the last two; he made the top 10 in the US PGA two starts ago, is a non-Major winner, isn't playing in the Canadian Open and ranks 1st for Total Driving this season. Add that all up and he banks 70pts, two clear of Scottie Scheffler.

Back Patrick Cantlay at 20.019/1

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