2023 U.S. Open sleeper picks to watch: Who might break out at LACC?

Phil Mickelson

Phil Mickelson last month during LIV Golf's event in Virginia.

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Adam Hadwin? He was 300-1.

Rory McIlroy (at 10-1, according to golfodds.com) was much farther up the board. But Joel Dahmen (300-1)? And Callum Tarren (2,000-1)? And M.J. Daffue? And David Lingmerth? They were not. But all made up the top of the leaderboard after one round of last year U.S. OpenHadwin led by a shot over McIlroy, Dahmen, Tarren, Daffue and Lingmerth.

And the point of this lovely introduction?

Don’t sleep on the sleepers during this year’s playing of the national championship!

Shoot your shot with a long shot at Los Angeles Country Club!

Ride the dark horse! And on and on. 

It’s here where we’ll say that among the group above, only McIlroy hung around the top five through four rounds. The U.S. Open typically does a good job of identifying the creme de la creme.

But all these dudes can play. Through 18 holes last year at The Country Club in Massachusetts, that much was clear. 

With that, members of our staff have each picked a long shot. The hope is, of course, we help you with your own weekly picks, whether those are for a low-stakes office fantasy league, or (legal!) big-bucks bets with a sportsbook.

On to our picks.

2023 U.S. Open sleeper picks to watch

Ryan Barath

Sleeper pick: Rickie Fowler, +6,600. Rickie has been having a great season, and although he had a tough Sunday at Memorial, his play during the rest of the event demonstrated that he can handle tough courses. LACC is going to be playing firm and fast, and I think this could be the perfect place for him to not only snag his first win in a while but also his first major.

Josh Berhow 

Sleeper pick: Phil Mickelson, +15,000: Did I really want to pick Phil as a sleeper? No, not really. But did I think his odds would make him this much of a long shot? No way. Hey, the guy showed us at the Masters that he’s still got plenty of game left, and you know how much completing the career grand slam means to him. Plus, there’s also all that golf news you might have heard about in the last week, and it’s safe to assume that’s taken a little bit of weight off Mickelson’s shoulders. The guy’s gotta be entering LACC riding high.

James Colgan 

Sleeper pick: Gary Woodland, +12,500. I can see it now: Gary Woodland wins the U.S. Open by three strokes. Rather than the tasteful end to a turbulent two weeks in the sport we’re all expecting, the golf world instead comes to terms with the least narratively fulfilling victory in the entire field. As Woodland walks away with his second major in five years, his win serves as a reminder that nothing really matters anyway.

Dylan Dethier   

Sleeper pick: Adam Scott, +8,000. What’s tan and tan and tan all over? Adam Scott in a sweater and slacks in the Southern California sunshine. The Aussie is showing sneaky form; after starting 2023 with eight consecutive finishes outside the top 20, he’s logged three top 10s in four starts. This man at this price seems like a worthwhile option. 

Nick Dimengo    

Sleeper pick: Sahith Theegala, +5,000. My best friend sent me a soundbite from Theegala’s recent appearance on the Beyond the Clubhouse podcast that I found interesting (7-minute mark). While I tried to dismiss it, it’s too hard to ignore — the 25-year-old has played LACC more than 30 times. It’d be a helluva story for the local kid to come home and take the leap into PGA superstardom, wouldn’t it?

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Jessica Marksbury

Sleeper pick: Sahith Theegala, +5,000. This Southern California kid might be overlooked in favor of the other locals this week, but he’s proven his ability to perform on a big stage. His results have been a bit middling over the past few weeks, but he was ninth at the Masters and I think he’s prime for a major breakout.

Zephyr Melton 

Sleeper pick: Phil Mickelson, +15,000. I’ll go with my heart here. There’s no single tournament any golfer wants more than Phil wants the U.S. Open, and it sure would be cool to see him do it. SoCal guy competing close to home should give him some extra motivation, too. Let’s see a career grand slam.

Nick Piastowski 

Sleeper pick: Adam Scott, +8,000. LACC calls for an even-keeled player, and Scott is that. He’s also won at Riv.

Tim Reilly

Sleeper pick: Phil Mickelson, +15,000. Coming off my Homa-to-win prediction, I do think the other direction this U.S. Open can go is madness. Before Phil took on the PGA Tour, he took on the USGA. How crazy would it be to see Phil, at this point in his career, win the championship that has eluded him for so long? After all the drama in recent years, months, weeks and days. Maybe we’re destined for more madness in the golf world. Unlikely? Yes. More unlikely than the PGA Tour and Public Investment Fund coming together? No. It could happen. 

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Josh Sens

Sleeper pick: Gary Woodland, +12,500. Despite a missed cut at Oak Hill, Woodland has been showing promising signs. A top 15 at Augusta. A top 10 at Riviera, just down the road (and by the same architect, if you are inclined to think that sort of thing matters). The chalk these days in golf is so dominant that it’s hard to imagine anyone but Scheffler, Rahm or Koepka winning. But at 125-1? That’s a reasonable play.

Marley Sims   

Sleeper pick: Rickie Fowler, +6,600. Rickie Fowler has been showing strong form of late. One of the most popular pros to have never won a major, he gets it done this week. 

Jonathan Wall 

Sleeper pick: Justin Suh, +12,500. Bay Area guy who went to school at USC and has some LACC course knowledge. He’s played well for stretches over the past month but hasn’t been able to string four good rounds together. I think that changes at the U.S. Open. Expect Suh to be in the hunt on the weekend. 

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Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.