With the 120th U.S. Open fast approaching, the key question everyone’s asking is the same across the golf world: Who are you picking to win at Torrey Pines in June? With a tremendous field featuring most of the best professionals in the world, the third major of 2021 should be an epic ride from Thursday’s first round onward. The U.S. Open storylines are plentiful this week. Bryson DeChambeau is looking to go back-to-back at the event, while Brooks Koepka attempts to win his third U.S. Open in four years. Phil Mickelson, who turns 51 on Wednesday, is looking to continue shocking the world with a second straight major title after his win at the PGA Championship last month. Lefty remains one national championship away from the career grand slam.So what is going to happen this week at Torrey Pines? Let’s take a look at a full set of predictions and picks from our CBS Sports experts. Check out a full set of 2021 U.S. Open odds via William Hill Sportsbook.Kyle Porter, golf writerWinner — Bryson DeChambeau (18-1):The odds here just do not match up with how well DeChambeau fits the mold of the modern U.S. Open golfer. Sometimes we discount golfers who won the year before because of how few have gone back-to-back at this tournament, but you could make a real argument that DeChambeau’s game fits Torrey Pines far better than it does Winged Foot (which he won by six). He’s the pick at all future U.S. Opens until he gives me a reason he shouldn’t be.Sleeper — Louis Oosthuizen (45-1): Speaking of guys it’s easy to like, Oosthuizen’s U.S. Open record is pristine. He constantly finishes in the top 25 at this event (every year since 2015), and though he’s also a difficult player to pick to actually win a major championship, it’s likely that he’s going to insert himself in the mix at some point — just like he did at the last U.S. Open as well as the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island.Top 10 lock — Xander Schauffele: I suppose it’s the four straight top 10s at U.S. Opens that has me captivated. I’m not big on him winning, but to me, he — and not Jon Rahm — is the lock to play well here this week. Everyone who has said it is correct; he has no holes. Every part of his game is supreme, though he’s not necessarily the best in the world at anything. He’s also a solid putter on poa annua, contended here in January and had a shot at the Masters late in the tournament. What’s not to like?!Star who definitely won’t win — Jordan Spieth: I feel good about this one. He just has not been very good at U.S. Opens since his win at Chambers Bay. I’m a massive believer in where his game is at and how much the long-term trajectory has changed, but this week at Torrey Pines is not going to be a week it shows.Surprise prediction — Jon Rahm falters: I’m fading Rahm this week, mostly because every single thing is pointing toward him running away and winning this thing by four strokes. His U.S. Open record is not that great, and it’s not difficult to understand why. For all the physical gifts, the U.S. Open is a mental war of attrition. While the “he needs to change his attitude” stuff with Rahm is way overplayed, there’s a truth there that he needs to not let the bad break that just happened affect his next five shots. I think he does this too often at U.S. Opens, and I think he’ll do it again this week at Torrey Pines as the favorite.Lowest score: 66 (-5)
Winning score: 283 (-1)
Winner’s Sunday score: 72 (+1)Chip Patterson, writerWinner — Jon Rahm (9-1): Don’t overthink it or try to talk yourself into thinking the isolation will hurt Rahm’s ability to win. With seven top-10 finishes in his last 13 major championship starts — including T5 at the Masters in April and T8 at the PGA Championship in May — no one in the field is knocking on the door of his first major win quite like Rahm. He’s a worthy betting favorite, and both his course history and game are set up to survive the grueling task of working your way around Torrey Pines. Sleeper — Daniel Berger (40-1): His best major championship finish is at Shinnecock (T6), where Brooks Koepka won with a +1 score. Sure, his early-in-the-day 66 on Saturday helped him fly up the leaderboard while the rest of the final top-10 scored in the 70s, but his form on Friday on Sunday at that extremely difficult and very on-brand U.S. Open tells me got the goods to survive four rounds at Torrey Pines. Other winners are more fun for narratives, but my hunch is we’ll see someone outside of those top nine or 10 names on the odds board emerge to win. Top 10 lock — Tony Finau:OK, so maybe one person in the field is knocking the door of his first major win like Rahm, but Finau’s win conversion doesn’t stack up to Rahm and his 11 worldwide wins (five on the PGA Tour) since the start of 2017. Finau has finished in the top-10 in nine of his last 13 major championship starts, and he was right there with Berger in 2018 firing the low round of the day on Saturday to soar from 45th place to gain a share of the 54-hole lead. The distance between Finau’s top-10 floor and ceiling as a winner feels like a gulf, but he’s got the goods to deliver on that (very high) floor more times than not. Star who definitely won’t win — Bryson DeChambeau:He hasn’t finished in the top 30 of either of 2021’s major championships and while the course set up seems destined to be an advantage for his game I’m out on the back-to-back. DeChambeau will be able to overcome the thick rough in ways others won’t, but there’s too many big numbers lying around Torrey Pines to think he gets through 72 holes without an ejection hole or two that can cost you on Sunday. Top 10? Sure. But winning requires a sharper edge than he’s shown in majors so far this year. Surprise prediction — No hole-in-ones: At the Masters, we dialed in on declaring multiple aces, but I don’t think we see any through four days of championship action at Torrey Pines. Both of the par-3s on the back nine are a little long for dead-eye accuracy checking in at more than 220 yards, and the shortest par-3 (No. 8) has a two-tiered green with large bunkers on the front and back that will have golfers thinking more about club selection and avoiding the wrong spots than pin-hunting for aces. Lowest round: 66 (-5)
Winning score: 280 (-4)
Winner’s Sunday score:69 (-2)Who will win the U.S. Open, and which long shots will stun the golfing world?Visit SportsLine to see the projected leaderboard, all from the model that’s nailed six golf majors and is up well over $9,000 since the restart.Kyle Boone, writerWinner — Collin Morikawa (22-1): There are few golfers on the tour right now as good or consistent as Morikawa has been of late. He’s finished top-15 in his last four outings and is coming off a loss at the Memorial where he was brilliant before falling to Patrick Cantlay in a playoff. And at Torrey Pines, his strength as a ball-striker and knack to find fairways with regularity will be on full display. If he’s able to be just-OK around the greens and on them, I like his chances this week, and I obviously love the value at 22-1 for a young star already with a major championship under his belt.Sleeper — Garrick Higgo (50-1): I’ll ride the Higgo wave here. Higgo was masterful at Congaree, winning the Palmetto Championship — his first victory on the PGA Tour in his second start — this past weekend with a remarkably consistent four-round outing. He is one of the sport’s young stars who has incredible length off the tee, and while he needs to pair that with accuracy — a tall task for a player making his second career major championship appearance — it’s an X-factor that could make him an interesting sleeper if he picks up where he left off at the Palmetto.Top 10 lock — Jordan Spieth: How well Spieth has played this year has, rightfully, made him one of the trendy picks to win again at a major championship venue after a years long drought. And while he’s been close, he’s thus far been unable to convert his old form to new wins. That includes a T3 Masters finish and a disappointing T30 finish at the PGA Championship. Given that, I’m not ready to predict a win here at Torrey Pines where the long track and demanding conditions will require perfection off the tees from a player like Spieth who often struggles with the driver. But if he’s able to stay out of trouble coming off the tee box and can channel his short game wizardry, as he is wont to do, then he could easily wind up in contention and finish top 10 on the leaderboard by Sunday evening.Star who definitely won’t win — Rory McIlroy:Rory is a bonafide star with the physical gifts and talent most on the PGA Tour could only dream of possessing. But he’s made a habit of shrinking in major championships, and he’s an auto-fade until he sheds that routine. On the first day of the PGA Championship in May, it already felt like he was out of it despite an opening-round 75. Same deal for the Masters where he opened with a 76 and went on to miss the cut. Now, could he open the week with a 4-under 67 and thrust himself into contention? Absolutely. But an opening-round 76 seems more likely for him, and right now winning the U.S. Open feels like a huge stretch given his recent showings at majors. I’d love to be wrong.Surprise prediction — Brooks and Bryson get paired:The golf gods eventually bless up at some point in this tournament and pair the behemoths who are at odds with each other. I’ll take this a step further and add that they are not only paired together for a round, they are paired together and both top 10 on the leaderboard entering Saturday. Now, off the course, there’s been enough beef between these two to feed everyone in San Diego this weekend. But don’t let it distract you from the fact that both are top-10 golfers in the OWGR and absolutely capable of winning this weekend.
Lowest round:65 (-6)
Winning score: 271 (-13)
Winner’s Sunday score: 68 (-3)