With the 103rd PGA Championship fast approaching Thursday morning, everyone wants to know who is going to come out as the victory on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island. With a tremendous field featuring most of the best professionals in the world, the second major of 2021 should be an epic ride from Round 1 onward.
The PGA Championship storylines are plentiful this week. Collin Morikawa is looking to go back-to-back at this event, while Hideki Matsuyama is looking to win his second-straight major after a strong performance at the Masters last month. Rory McIlroy is hoping to capitalize on his bounce-back play win his first major championship since 2014, while Jordan Spieth believes he can keep rolling on his way to the career grand slam.
So what is going to happen this week at Kiawah Island? 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 PGA Championship odds via William Hill Sportsbook along with a full set of Round 1 tee times.
Watch the 2021 PGA Championship beginning Thursday with Rounds 3-4 streaming live over the weekend on CBSSports.com, the CBS Sports App and Paramount+. Check out the updated PGA Championship schedule for how to watch the year's second major all week long.
2021 PGA Championship expert picks, predictions
Kyle Porter, golf writer
Winner -- Jordan Spieth (16-1): Here we are. Four months ago, I would have howled at the idea of picking Spieth to win each of the first two majors of the year. He finished T3 a month ago at the Masters after I picked him there, and I'm going back to the well. I'm not sure anybody in the field combines elite iron play (only Justin Thomas has been better over the last six months) with a great short game (Spieth is gaining a stroke on the field on and around the greens over the last six months). If he drives it like he did at Augusta National (a decent-sized "if"), we'll be talking about the slam on Sunday evening.
Sleeper -- Charley Hoffman (150-1): Since missing the cut at the Phoenix Open, Hoffman has been on an absolute tear. He has six top-20 finishes in his last eight starts, including a T17 at The Players and a near-win at the Texas Open the week before the Masters. He's been absolutely flushing it, which is his M.O., and if he can somehow keep it up for just one more week, I think he could get in the mix on the weekend, which is all you're looking for from somebody who's 150-1.
Top 10 lock -- Daniel Berger: I badly wanted to pick Berger to win, but I couldn't quite do it. He's been so good this year -- only he and Spieth have a strokes-gained number above 2.0 for the year, and he finished great at the Byron Nelson last weekend. The thing I love best about him is that if he's in it late on the weekend, there's no retreat, no back down. He'll go to the mat with anybody in the field and love the entire process. That matters at majors maybe more than it does at other events.
Star who definitely won't win -- Dustin Johnson: I will probably regret this one, but as always, the point of this is to pick the best player and biggest name who will not hold the trophy. I think the No. 1 player in the world qualifies. His game just has not been sharp in several months. And I'm always wary of him -- specifically him, actually -- flipping a switch in a hurry and turning it on for the biggest events, but I'm just not feeling it this week at Kiawah for some reason.
Surprise prediction: Several of the big hitters (Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm) will struggle. This might be the longest major championship of all-time, but it's not the type of course where you hit it as far as you can and then go hit it as far as you can again (like Bethpage Black was and Torrey Pines will be). One or more of those top guys will be just a bit off, and it will snowball in a hurry. Bombers can win here (and probably will), but it's going to play differently than you think when you hear "7,900 yards."
Lowest round: 66 (-6)
Winning score: 281 (-7)
Winner's Sunday score: 70 (-2)
Chip Patterson, writer
Winner -- Bryson DeChambeau (16-1): Last year, I figured that the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park was the major most set up for the Big Golfer to dominate and the U.S. Open at Winged Foot would be a challenge for his style. Of course, I was wrong about the latter, as DeChambeau not only won but cruised with a final round 67 on a Sunday where no one else shot better than 70 to win by six strokes. But to review the T4 finish at last year's PGA Championship is to see a 10-under championship effort good enough to win most years, just not good enough to beat Collin Morikawa with that 65-64 weekend showing. While recent form has been up-and-down -- finishing outside the top 40 at The Masters and last week's AT&T Byron Nelson -- he's got a win this season at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and top-10 finishes against stellar fields at The Players and the Wells Fargo Championship. The form is good, and he's a smart pick to win any PGA Championship but especially one that will require excellence off the tee.
Sleeper -- Matt Wallace (80-1): Wallace is having a really strong 2021 so far. He currently ranks inside the top 10 on the PGA Tour in strokes gained on approach and strokes gained tee-to-green after finishing solo third at the Texas Open in April and T6 at the Wells Fargo Championship earlier this month. Last time the PGA Championship was at Kiawah Island, we saw Euros all over the final leaderboard, but as impactful in my pick is Wallace's T3 finish at the 2019 PGA Championship at Bethpage Black, another bear of a course that required some length and strength off the tee.
Top 10 lock -- Rory McIlroy: Too easy. The narratives this week are going to power a sentimental push for Rory to win, snapping his major drought at a course that featured one of his most dominant wins, but the most likely outcome is finishing on the first page of the leaderboard. It's an easy pick because you know there's multiple ways it could happen, either being in contention to win on Sunday afternoon or a backdoor top-10 finish after going low on a course he loves in the morning wave.
Star who definitely won't win — Dustin Johnson: Those who try to point to South Carolina connections as a reason the World No. 1 must have missed him fail to close at the RBC Heritage in Hilton Head earlier this season. There's also the knee injury that caused him to withdraw from the Byron Nelson last week and a missed cut at the Masters. Improved play and a week off good health would be encouraging for Johnson, who hasn't cracked the top-10 since mid-February, but I'm not betting on there being enough improvement to win.
Surprise prediction: Five of the last six major champions have been first-time major winners with Johnson's Masters win in November 2020 as the only exception. That run will not continue here because I think the group of former major winners -- with motivation ranging from ending droughts to building on recent success -- is too strong compared to the contenders who have yet to win a major.
Lowest round: 65 (-7)
Winning score: 278 (-10)
Winner's Sunday score: 69 (-3)
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Kyle Boone, writer
Winner -- Xander Schauffele (22-1): The PGA Championship has been conquered by a first-time major winner four times since 2015, most recently with Collin Morikawa last year. It'd be fitting if Schauffele could continue that trend in 2021. He's quietly played some great golf this year with four top-five finishes and a T3 at the Masters, as well as a T14 at the Wells Fargo a week ago. I like his chances to be in the hunt and at 22-1; there is some excellent value there as well.
Sleeper -- Scottie Scheffler (40-1): It was at the PGA Championship a year ago that Scheffler really introduced himself to the greater golf scene with a T4 finish at TPC Harding Park. There, he put on a show of control as he maneuvered to his best major championship finish as part of a scorching finish to the year. And while he enters on a relatively cool streak by comparison (T47 and T29 at the Byron Nelson and Valspar, respectively), it feels like he's a bit of a gamer who tends to show up in big events. Just take his last two Masters finishes (both top-20) as an example, or even his showing at the PGA last year. If he finds a groove with the putter, he'll be in the mix this weekend, and you probably won't find many golfers in this range you could say that about at these odds.
Top 10 lock -- Jordan Spieth (16-1): No one feels like a safer contender to bet than Spieth as a top 10 lock because this year, regardless of event, he's mostly been a top 10 lock. Of the 10 events he's played in, six he finished in the top 10, five in the top five and one he won. He is playing as well as anyone on the PGA Tour right now.
Star who definitely won't win -- Brooks Koepka: At the Masters, Koepka was hobbling -- literally -- all over Augusta after opting to play despite a knee procedure the month prior. He missed the cut. That led to a five-week absence for the two-time PGA Championship winner, who at the Byron Nelson went 71-70 and missed the cut. It's hard to envision a world in which he goes from those two early exits to hoisting the Wanamaker Trophy this weekend.
Surprise prediction: Dustin Johnson misses the cut. D.J.'s odds have slipped from 10-1 to 20-1 to win, and that feels like a more accurate reflection of how he's entering Kiawah Island. While he's always got the goods to make a charge up the leaderboard and be in contention, particularly at the PGA Championship where he's finished top-two the last two years, he's not had the best year. He missed the cut at the Masters and is coming a just-OK T48 showing at the Valspar.
Lowest round: 65 (-7)
Winning score: 276 (-12)
Winner's Sunday score: 69 (-3)
Adam Silverstein, editor
Winner -- Justin Thomas (16-1): With so much momentum behind Spieth, I need to go against the grain ... but not out on a limb. Thomas' lone major championship is at this event, and the Ocean Course sets up nicely for him given his accuracy out of their fairway and stellar short game. Wind is going to wreak havoc on this talented field, and those who can best recover and clean up with their putter are going to have a great shot to pull out a win. I'd rather back Thomas than most others, though admittedly, this does set up nicely for Spieth.
Sleeper -- Cameron Smith (35-1): You know who has a lot of experience playing high-wind courses near oceans? Australians. Though Smith has not fared well at PGA Championships (his best finish was a T25 in his first back in 2015), this is not a normal PGA Championship. Like with Thomas, his great work in and around the greens will aid in recovery, even though Smith is quite strong driving the ball. There are golfers with longer odds who you can take, but few are talking about Smith, and he's got a real chance here.
Top 10 lock -- Jordan Spieth: If I'm not taking Spieth to win, I'm surely going to make sure I pick him inside my top 10. He has six top-10 finishes already this season with a victory. And his game is in great shape entering the year's second major. Despite McIlroy being the favorite due to his familiarity with the course (he won here in 2012), no one is playing better with a better shot to win than Spieth.
Star who definitely won't win -- Brooks Koepka: This is not a unique pick, but I saw Koepka up close at the Masters, and it was not pretty. Koepka should've skipped the year's first major just one month removed from knee surgery, and he followed that by taking a month off and then missing another cut. Forget not winning the PGA Championship, I'm not sure Koepka makes the cut. And even if he does, I don't see him contending in any way.
Surprise prediction: The winner will not be the 54-hole leader. We have seen recent major winners go up big and hold on to their leads down the stretch, but Kiawah Island looks like it may be a fickle beast. It will be a difficult course to manage for four rounds, and the potential for the weather to change on a whim will make it difficult for anyone to be consistent all week. Sunday's eventual winner will come from behind and may even be someone who hits a few under par while everyone else is even or over.
Lowest round: 65 (-7)
Winning score: 281 (-7)
Winner's Sunday score: 69 (-3)
Jacob Hallex, producer
Winner -- Jordan Spieth (16-1): Maybe I've been working with Kyle Porter for too long, but I'm all in on Spieth to complete the career grand slam this week at Kiawah. Spieth has wandered out of the woods and is ready to win another major. His victory at the Texas Open put him over the mental hurdle of winning again on the PGA Tour. Spieth is the only player to gain more than 2 strokes per round this calendar year. He's also tightened up his off the tee game that plagued him on the road to recovery.
Sleeper -- Stewart Cink (125-1): Cink, 47, is tied with DeChambeau for most wins on the PGA Tour this season with a pair of victories each. Do you know what else this duo has in common? They both can hit the ball a country mile! That's right. On the PGA Tour, Cink is ranked inside the top 25 when it comes to driving distance. Cink currently has the same odds as invitee Rickie Fowler ... that's just disrespectful to our guy Stew!
Top 10 lock -- Matthew Fitzpatrick: When conditions get tough, there is one name you can almost always count on to grind it out. Fitzpatrick is playing excellent golf this year. The Englishman is gaining strokes in all categories which has translated to four top-10 finishes this season. Included in that is a T4 at the RBC Heritage, a Pete Dye designed water-side course on the South Carolina coast. Need I say more?
Star who definitely won't win -- Bryson DeChambeau: Several stars won't win this week because of lingering injuries. Koepka is still battling a bad knee; his appearances at the Masters and at last week's AT&T Byron Nelson prove that. Johnson withdrew from last week's tournament with knee discomfort; that's a red flag for me. I'll firmly go on record saying this isn't a great setup for Bryson. It's a long course which theoretically fits Bryson's eye, but I can't see him playing well at a place like the Ocean Course. He's never played all that well in Open Championships which this event could turn into. I'm out on the big boy this week.
Surprise prediction: Patrick Cantlay will miss the cut. It's tough to miss the cut at the PGA Championship when the field is loaded with club professionals. That gives you a great opportunity to fade a start at juicy odds if you're into that sort of thing. Right now, Cantlay is +200 to miss the cut at Kiawah. Cantlay is the No. 12 golfer in the world but has missed the cut in each of his past four stroke play events. At 2-1 odds, I think it's more than worth the wager to bet against Cantlay.
Lowest round: 65 (-7)
Winning score: 280 (-8)
Winner's Sunday score: 67 (-5)