2023 U.S. Open First Round Leader Bets: Picks for Cameron Smith, Bryson DeChambeau & Hideki Matsuyama

2023 U.S. Open First Round Leader Bets: Picks for Cameron Smith, Bryson DeChambeau & Hideki Matsuyama article feature image

Via Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images. Pictured: Cameron Smith of Australia plays a chip shot during a practice round prior to the 2023 PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club on May 15, 2023 in Rochester, New York.

This week, the best golfers in the world will head to Los Angeles to play to the 2023 U.S. Open.

Los Angeles Country Club will host its first ever major championship this week, and it looks to be an amazing major championship venue. The course has a drivable par-4 (330-yard 6th hole), some incredibly long par-3s (284-yard 7th hole and 290-yard 11th hole) and a good deal of long and difficult par-4s, including three straight par-4s over 490 yards on holes 16, 17 and 18. Typical of a USGA setup, whoever comes out on top this week will have demonstrate a total tee-to-green masterclass.

Although they've all been at different courses, in the past 10 editions of the U.S. Open, there have been 15 first-round leaders or co-leaders. Of the 15, nine have started their rounds in the AM wave while six have started their rounds in the PM wave. As of now, the winds don't look to be a major factor (5-8 MPH all day), and the temperature looks to be in the mid-60s for most of Thursday. Therefore, you can be comfortable taking first-round leaders from any tee time.

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2023 U.S. Open First-Round Leader Picks

Cameron Smith  +4000 (DraftKings)

First-Round Tee Time: 1:32 p.m. 

Cameron Smith hasn’t been a great U.S. Open player thus far in his career, but there’s reason to believe the unique layout of Los Angeles Country Club could suit his style of play. When Smith struggles, it’s typically because he gets a bit wayward with his driver. The fairways this week are a bit wider than what we’re used to in the U.S. Open, so a bit of his inaccuracy could be mitigated. 

The course will be difficult when golfers miss on their approach shots. With massive sloping greens, a creative short game will be a necessity. There are few golfers in the sport who can compete with the Aussie’s creativity around the greens. He’s also a fantastic bunker player, which will come in handy this week. 

Chambers Bay in 2015 was another unique U.S. Open design somewhat comparable to this week, and Smith finished a career-best fourth in the U.S. Open that week in the Pacific Northwest. I think LACC should set up beautifully for The Open champion this week. 

Bryson DeChambeau +4000 (FanDuel)

First-Round Tee Time: 7:40 a.m. 

We cashed a Bryson DeChambeau first-round leader ticket (75-1) at the PGA Championship, and I believe he has a chance to sit atop the standings on Thursday night once again. 

I still believe Bryson is an elite player, and if that’s the case, the U.S. Open will always be a favorable spot on the schedule for him. Even after losing some weight and dialing back slightly on his swing speed, DeChambeau still nukes the ball off the tee. At Oak Hill, he hit it far while still keeping the ball reasonably straight, and consequently led the field by gaining 7.5 strokes off the tee. 

Having seemingly found a rhythm with the driver over the past month, LACC should suit the 29-year-old's game nicely.

Hideki Matsuyama +5000 (DraftKings)

First-Round Tee Time: 1:54 p.m.

Hideki Matsuyama’s health is once again a question mark as we approach the third major championship of the season. As much as I’d prefer to have clarity on the status of his ailing neck, it appears it’ll be a day-to-day issue for Hideki for the rest of 2023. 

If healthy, I love LACC for the Japanese star. He showed glimpses of what makes him so great at the Memorial a few weeks ago as he raced out to the 36-hole lead before struggling on Saturday. Matsuyama prefers to putt on Bentgrass greens and has had a lot of success on the West Coast. He’s also been a terrific U.S. Open player, boasting finishes of fourth, 26th, 17th, 21st, 16th and second in his past six U.S. Opens. 

Sometimes you need to roll the dice when it comes to injury risk because Matsuyama's high ceiling is worth the chance. 

Sergio Garcia +11000 (DraftKings)

First-Round Tee Time: 7:51 a.m. 

I was really impressed with Sergio Garcia’s decision to try and qualify for this year’s U.S. Open. Over the past year or so, plenty have questioned whether or not the Spaniard still cared enough to put all of his effort into winning another major. The fact that he went out and qualified shows me he still has the desire to add to his spectacular resume. 

Garcia’s U.S. Open track record has been hit or miss, but he’s had some strong finishes of 19th (2021), 21st (2017) and fifth (2016) in the not-so-distant past. Even at this stage of his career, the Spaniard can still keep up with most of the field in terms of his ball striking. 

Garcia gets out early and has the ability to go low if he can get the putter going. 

David Puig +25000 (DraftKings)

First-Round Tee Time: 2:16 p.m. 

David Puig is a longshot in this market, and for good reason. At only 21 years old, the Spaniard is playing in his first ever major championship.

Puig shot a final round 65 to finish 12th at LIV DC and carried his momentum into the U.S. Open qualifier as he punched his ticket to LACC.

The former ninth-ranked amateur in the world is extremely talented and was a highly decorated player before turning professional to join LIV. He played on the European Junior Ryder Cup team and did some damage at Arizona State. He won the 2021 Southwestern Invitational by a record-setting nine strokes and then defended his title in 2022. That event took place in Westlake Village, CA.

With some success in the state and having played a lot of West Coast golf at Arizona State, he’s worth a shot at this price. 

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