Who are you picking to win the 2019 U.S. Open? That’s what everyone wants to know this time of year, and rarely has the decision at the top been more difficult with such a strong field featuring generational talent going head-to-head at Pebble Beach. All eyes are on Brooks Koepka, who is looking to win his third straight U.S. Open and fifth major — all since 2017. Tiger Woods is also coming off his stunning Masters victory, and while he did not seem to prepare properly for the PGA Championship, it looks like he’s ready and raring to tackle Pebble.
Of course, we would be remiss without mentioning Phil Mickelson, who is looking for a national title to complete his grand slam. Then there’s Rory McIlroy, who is arguably golf’s most consistent player right now and just dominated the RBC Canadian Open last week.
With the U.S. Open now standing as the third major of the golf season, it will be interesting to see how the field adjusts. Narrowing this field down to a champion and top finishers is a tough task, but we here at CBS Sports are certainly up to it.
Who will win the U.S. Open, and which long shots will stun the golfing world? Visit SportsLine now to see the 2019 U.S. Open projected leaderboard from the model that nailed the winners of five golf majors, including the PGA Championship.
2019 U.S. Open predictions
Kyle Porter, golf writer
Winner — Dustin Johnson (8-1): Real thick limb I’m going out on here. D.J. has been beaten by two golfers at majors in 2019: Tiger Woods at the Masters and Brooks Koepka at the PGA Championship. He’s traditionally owned Pebble Beach in the regular season — mostly because he’s a monster from tee to green — and I think of all the stars in the field, it’s easiest to see that game translating from a regular PGA Tour stop at Pebble to a U.S. Open at Pebble.
Sleeper — Hideki Matsuyama (40-1): Why is the iron king — my iron king — 40-1 to win this golf tournament? That’s unconscionable! He’s finished top 20 in the last two U.S. Opens (including a T2 at Erin Hills in 2017) and comes in third on the PGA Tour in strokes gained from tee to green. He might putt a few balls into the Pacific Ocean, sure, but boy is he going to knock down some flags while everybody else is searching for balls in rough as tall as Brian Harman.
Top 10 lock — Tiger Woods: Hear me out! Woods is coming off a salty top 10 at the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village in a field at least close to comparable to this one. And the reality is that he didn’t even score all that well at that event. He’ll be more patient and more seasoned than many of the stars and superstars in this event, and oh yeah, he’s only lost to three golfers ever at U.S. Opens at Pebble Beach.
Top 5 in order: Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay, Tiger Woods, Tommy Fleetwood
Surprise prediction: Brooks Koepka finishes outside the top 10 this week in his bid for three in a row. I’m just going to keep hammering this until it actually happens! Here’s the deal: He’s either, like, the third best golfer of all-time, or he’s going to start to fade away a little bit in majors soon. I honestly don’t know which one it is, but I’m betting on the latter.
Lowest round: 66 (-5)
Winning score: 280 (-4)
Winner’s Sunday score: 70 (-1)
Chip Patterson, writer
Winner — Xander Schauffele (25-1): We’re going to be discussing Tiger, Brooks, DJ, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and other major winners to get ready for the week, but I’m going with a first-time winner and have been bouncing between Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay. Ultimately, I’m sticking with the X-Man as a value play. Koepka showed his versatility by winning at two different kinds of U.S. Open courses — Erin Hills in 2017, Shinnecock in 2018 — and just behind the reigning champ on both of those leaderboards was Schauffele, finishing T5 in 2017 and T6 in 2018. With four top-six finishes in the nine major starts of his young and budding pro career, Xander has proven he’s capable of hanging with the best in the world.
Sleeper — Si Woo Kim (150-1): With one of the best scrambling percentages on the PGA Tour, Si Woo is your sleeper to love at Pebble Beach. The small greens and tight fairways will not only reward accuracy but the ability to get up-and-down and gain stokes against the field around the green. He’s got four top-10 finishes on the year, including a T4 finish at Pebble Beach in February. Three straight missed cuts before, at and after the PGA Championship have knocked him down the odds board, but I think that means we should get in while the getting’s good.
Top 10 lock — Tiger Woods: If we did the blind resume test with Woods, you’d pick him out as a contender to win at Pebble Beach based on him leading the PGA Tour in greens in regulation percentage (72.9 percent) and ranking in the top-15 in several crucial stat categories, including strokes gained on approach and strokes gained around the green. Now remember that he’s Tiger f’n Woods, winner of the 2019 Masters and 2018 Tour Championship, attacking a course where he won the U.S. Open by 15 in 2000 and finished just four strokes off the pace in a T4 finish in 2010. It might take a low round on Sunday morning to backdoor a top-10 finish, but Woods has such a high floor at Pebble Beach that I’m going to call it a lock.
Top 5 in order: Xander Schauffele, Tommy Fleetwood, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Cantlay
Surprise prediction: Viktor Hovland finishes in the top-10. A stellar college career at Oklahoma State has concluded and both Hovland and teammate Matthew Wolff will be two of the most intriguing young players to follow during the second half of the season. Hovland and Wolff will make their pro debuts at the Travelers Championship the week after the U.S. Open with this event being Hovland’s last as an amateur after finishing as the low amateur at the Masters. I’m thinking he throws a big ole aerosol can into the campfire of hype at Pebble Beach, charging his way to the top of the leaderboard.
Lowest round: 64 (-7)
Winning score: 279 (-5)
Winner’s Sunday score: 68 (-3)