There might not be a more difficult test of golf in the entire world than the U.S. Open.
Now, whether it’s always fair is a different debate, but the last man standing at the national championship is typically one of the best players in the world. A year ago, it was Jon Rahm’s coming-out party as he denied Bryson DeChambeau a chance to repeat. Look down the list of past champions, and it’s a star-studded list.
Chances are, the winner is going to come from a relatively short list of competitors. As we have at the other majors, we power-ranked our best bets to take home the trophy this week at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.
12. Will Zalatoris (+3500): Not counting a withdrawal last year at the Open Championship (after a first-round 69), Zalatoris has played in seven majors and has five top-10 finishes. The other two are missed cuts at U.S. Opens, but he also has a sixth-place finish at Winged Foot mixed in, too. He’s obviously a wonderful player, and if he’s within striking distance by Sunday, he certainly has the game to break through.
11. Brooks Koepka (+4000): Maybe this is chasing a ghost, but Koepka at his best thrives in these tournaments. Some have called Shinnecock Hills something of a comp for Brookline, and Koepka won his second U.S. Open there in 2018. There’s just not much recent form at all to make you feel good about him.
10. Cam Smith (+2200): He had a chance to win at the Masters before rinsing it at 12. Then, at the PGA, he did everything well except putt (his worst putting performance since June 2019), which is a rarity for him. A ceiling performance from Smith, who is one of the best short putters on Tour, is good enough to win the U.S. Open, and there’s probably a little more value on him now that the buzz is gone.
9. Dustin Johnson (+2200): It would be fitting for a LIV golfer to win this week and further throw the sport into disarray. As mentioned, the 2018 tournament might be a good comp, and Johnson actually had a four-shot lead going into the weekend before a rough Saturday. If he’s locked in, he’s got some betting value, especially, but it’s always hard to say with DJ — especially now.
8. Collin Morikawa (+2800): Everyone has forgotten about him, which is usually when he goes nuts. He might be the most gifted iron player in the world, but he does seem to get a little rattled when things get dicey. It doesn’t look like the weather will be an issue, but how will he react when he leaves a ball 2 yards short and it rolls off the green?
7. Jordan Spieth (+3500): All of a sudden, Spieth is one of the best drivers on Tour, and he can’t putt. A weird change of course in his career. But he obviously has the mettle, and there’s no one over the last 24 rounds who has been better around the green than him, and his approach game is world-class.
6. Xander Schauffele (+1400): He keeps knocking at the door at the U.S. Open finishing no worse than seventh place in five career starts. The model loves Schauffele, which makes sense given that he’s adequately long off the tee and hits a ton of fairways to go along with great iron play and a decent short game. He checks all the boxes other than he’s never actually broken through.
5. Matthew Fitzpatrick (+2800): Let’s get weird. Fitzpatrick has been knocking on the door, finishing in the top five at the PGA to go along with a top-20 at the Masters. He plays a well-rounded game and hits a ton of fairways and is very strong around the green. Weather isn’t an issue for him, and here’s something you’ll probably hear again this week: He won the U.S. Amateur at TCC in 2013.
4. Jon Rahm (+1200): The short game had been a mess, but Rahm actually gained strokes around the green in two of his last three starts. He whooped on a real bad field at the Mexico Open and then got a top-10 finish at the Memorial in a much better field. The defending U.S. Open champion knows he can win under these conditions, and he’s just always a week away from figuring it out.
3. Justin Thomas (+1200): Will a win at the PGA Championship open the floodgates for arguably the best, most complete player in the world? Thomas’ combination of ball-striking and putting makes him a threat every week, and after a slow start, the putter especially has come around. Thomas ranks third in the field over the last 24 rounds in putts of 5 feet or less, which should help him avoid the big numbers and hang around all week … if, of course, he can hit enough fairways.
2. Rory McIlroy (+1100): He went from 14-1 last week to the betting favorite at 11-1 after winning in Canada this past weekend. If the fairway thing is overstated or if he has an elite driving week, it’ll be a statement week for the motivated McIlroy. He’s also one of the best long-iron players on the planet, which could be a difference-maker on a bear of a course.
1. Scottie Scheffler (+1400): If the test ultimately is won by the best player, it’s hard to argue with Scheffler right now. Yes, he missed the cut at the PGA after winning the Masters, but he bounced back with a ho-hum second-place finish at the Charles Schwab. His approach game is elite, he doesn’t make many mistakes, and he’s a wizard around the green.
Strokes gained data via FantasyNational.com