With the 2022 Open Championship fast approaching, the key question everyone's asking is the same across the golf world: Who are you picking to survive the Old Course at St. Andrews? With a tremendous field featuring most of the best professionals in the world for the historic 150th playing of The Open, the final major of 2022 should be an epic ride from Thursday's first round onward as the R&A returns to this site for the first time since 2015.
This year's Open may have a stellar field, but there's a lot of momentum behind a finite list of names to capture the Claret Jug. Most notable among them is Rory McIlroy, who enters having played some of the best golf of his career this season as he seeks to capture of the most coveted trophies in the sport at the Home of Golf. Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick is attempting to pull off the rare U.S. Open-Open double, while Xander Schauffele is coming off a Scottish Open win that provides him with plenty of confidence. And then there's Tiger Woods, who despite having long odds is looking to win his third Claret Jug at St. Andrews in what may be his last legitimate opportunity to.
Add it all up, and it would appear that we're in for a wild Open Championship full of unexpected twists and turns but also a lot of familiar names atop the leaderboard. Be sure to check out ourso you do not miss a second of the action all week.
So what is going to happen this week at St. Andrews? Let's take a look at a full set of predictions and picks from our CBS Sports experts as we attempt to project who will win and what will happen at the final major of the season. Odds via Caesars Sportsbook
2022 Open expert picks, predictions
Kyle Porter, senior golf writer
Winner -- Jordan Spieth (16-1): Does Spieth have his best stuff going into this Open? No, he does not. In his last 20 rounds, he ranks just 37th in this field in ball-striking. Since Jan. 1, he's 31st overall in strokes gained. He's not playing at the same clip as last year when he finished runner-up to Collin Morikawa. However, the golf being played at St. Andrews is not the same as the golf he's been playing most of the year, and Spieth has crushed at Opens over the course of his career. His game and mind were made for this tournament, and while Renaissance Club last week is not a good facsimile for the Old Course, Spieth finds freedom with his game on this side of the pond and has been waiting seven years to redeem the five he made on the Road Hole in 2015 to kick away a shot at the grand slam.
Sleeper -- Seamus Power (80-1): This is perhaps a bit too deep on the odds board (I wanted to go with Sam Burns at 40-1), but it's hard to ignore what Power has done at the majors this year. He ranks sixth in aggregate score out of the 13 golfers to have made every major cut and is coming off back-to-back top 20s at the PGA Championship and U.S. Open. At age 35, this is his first Open Championship during a stretch where he's playing the best golf he's ever played in his life. Majors are so different from other events, and even though Power's overall numbers are not great compared to other top players, it's clear that he can play at the big boy events. At 80-1, the risk is worth the reward.
Top 10 lock -- Rory McIlroy: The four-time major winner has never finished in the top 10 at all four majors in the same year, but that's in play after he threatened but ultimately came up short at the first three in 2022. Nobody has more top 10s at the last five Opens than McIlroy, and rarely is he this confident in the state of his game. He could get the wrong side of the draw, of course, but it would be stunning to me if he didn't finish in the top 10 come Sunday.
Top 10s at the last five Opens.— Kyle Porter (@KylePorterCBS) July 7, 2022
3 -- Rory, Koepka, Spieth
2 -- DJ, Kuchar, Bobby Mac, Finau, Hatton
1 -- 34 golfers
Star who definitely won't win -- Bryson DeChambeau: He has a sneaky-bad record at major championships (two top 10s in 23 starts), and it's even worse at Opens where he has failed to crack the top 30. For as much as he alludes to his golf genius, he has yet to come even remotely close to finding the answers at the courses that pose the most complicated problems in the sport.
Surprise prediction -- Scoring is not as outrageous as people think: There have been fears of somebody scaring 59 this week, but that's not going to happen. The course is as crispy as it is brown, and as long as the R&A lets the greens cook a little bit and the wind stays up like it is on Tuesday, scoring is going to be higher than folks have opined.
Tiger Woods prediction -- Contention: Big Cat is striking it fairly well, and I believe that somewhere in the place that only the most triumphant champions can access, he'll draw from sort of reserves that carry him into Sunday. He's brilliant enough to contend with his mind alone, and in his last shot at an Open at St. Andrews, he will. "I think the way the golf course is and the way the conditions are, I could certainly see [him contending]," said McIlroy. "It's going to be a game of chess this week, and no one's been better at playing that sort of chess game on a golf course than Tiger over the last 20 years."
Lowest round: 64 (-8)
Winning score: 272 (-16)
Winner's Sunday score: 68 (-4)
Patrick McDonald, golf writer
Winner -- Dustin Johnson (35-1): The move to LIV Golf has sent Johnson's name under the radar, but make no mistake, the two-time major winner is playing some fine golf. Top-10 finishes in the first two LIV Golf events sandwiched a top-25 effort at the U.S. Open where he found some touch on the greens. Since 2010, Johnson has captured six top-15 finishes in 11 Open appearances, including a T8 last season at Royal St. George's. He finished T14 at St. Andrews in 2010, and while his T49 result in 2015 doesn't jump off the page, he was the 18-hole and 36-hole leader in that tournament.
Sleeper -- Max Homa (50-1): I have been looking at Homa for this championship since the winter, and the only concern is that he's paired with Tiger the first two days. If he's able to get past the allure of playing the oldest championship in golf alongside his hero, Homa should be a perfect fit for St. Andrews. A tremendous striker of the golf ball, he is coming off a T16 effort at the Scottish Open where he was in with a chance over the final nine. He has been building towards a serious run in a major championship over the last two years, and I believe it could finally be his time.
Top 10 lock -- Rory McIlroy: He is one of two players to have finished top 10 in the first three major championships of the season, and I don't see why The Open will be different. McIlroy is playing some of his best golf since 2014, and St. Andrews is a perfect fit for his game. If his wedge play continues to cooperate, the four-time major winner will surely contend for No. 5.
Star who definitely won't win -- Collin Morikawa: The reigning Champion Golfer of the Year is simply not the player he was at this point last season. Morikawa just lost strokes in each tee to green metric at the Scottish Open, which marked the first time in his PGA Tour career he has done such. He has continued to struggle finding fairways and subsequently with his irons, which will pose problems for him at St. Andrews.
Surprise prediction -- Brooks Koepka contends: I am giving off serious Benedict Arnold vibes, but I truly believe a trio of LIV Golf players will perform well this week -- Louis Oosthuizen being the third. Koepka's record in the U.S. Open and PGA Championship often get all the hype, but his Open experience is among the best in the game with finishes of T10, T6, T39, T4 and T6 since 2015. Firm, fast and windy conditions should suit the four-time major champion.
Tiger Woods prediction -- Backdoor top 20: A shorter venue where strategy is required is exactly in Tiger's current wheelhouse. The key for his chances will not be his driver but whether he is able to lay up effectively as we saw him miss fairways with iron in hand with some regularity at Southern Hills. If he does this and avoids awkward lies, Woods should make his way through to the weekend and find his name on the second or third page of the leaderboard.
Lowest round: 64 (-8)
Winning score: 260 (-18)
Winner's Sunday score: 68 (-4)
Who will win The Open Championship, and which long shots will stun the golfing world? Visit SportsLine now to see the projected leaderboard and optimal picks, all from the model that's nailed eight golf majors, including this year's Masters.
Chip Patterson, writer
Winner -- Cameron Smith (22-1): After a blazing start to 2022, we've seen Smith cool off a bit (including a missed cut at the U.S. Open), but he still checks way too many boxes for this event to ignore his ability to contend. You have to be creative and sharp with your wedges and putter in this championship, especially at the Old Course. Smith has an excellent short game and is a plus-value player in windy conditions; he won't be trying to keep up with the big hitters off the tee. Smith had one bad round at the Scottish Open but still finished T10 thanks to three rounds of 68 or better. That tells me he's links ready and poised to win his first major championship.
Sleeper -- Robert MacIntyre (80-1): The recent form is not inspiring, I'll admit, but I'm not as focused on the three missed cuts in the last four starts as much as MacIntyre's Open Championship experience and performance at majors in general. He's just 25, but MacIntyre has two top-10 finishes in as many Open Championship starts and has not missed a cut in nine career major championship appearances. Outside of those two top-10s at the Open, MacIntyre's next-best finishes have been at the Masters (T12 in 2021, T23 in 2022). Strong finishes at those championships bode well for a star on the rise, and I think the Scotland native will have something special for this week at St. Andrews.
Top 10 lock -- Rory McIlroy: When a generational golf talent is having one of his best years in nearly a decade, you don't overthink the prediction. A top 10 finish is the floor for McIlroy this week, and given his form there's lots of different ways to get there. He could make his now-patented Sunday charge up the leaderboard or be sitting in one of the final groups with a shot to win on the weekend. Either way, it's pacing towards McIlroy finishing in the top 10 of all four majors in a single year for the first time in his career.
Star who definitely won't win -- Patrick Cantlay: Fading the No. 4 golfer in the world isn't usually a safe position to take, but we just haven't seen enough consistency with Cantaly's finishes at majors to buy stock in him winning. In seven major starts since the beginning of 2021, Cantlay has no top-10s and three missed cuts, including one at the last Open.
Surprise prediction -- The 150th Open heads to a playoff: In 2005 and 2010, it was Woods and Oosthuizen running away with the Claret Jug at St. Andrews, but I think our finish will be much tighter this year and even match the thrilling playoff finish in 2015. There's great depth among the game's top stars right now and the way the course concludes with No. 17, especially, and even No. 18 providing potential disasters there's a great chance that anyone within a stroke or two of the lead is still in the mix even late into Sunday afternoon.
Tiger Woods prediction -- Early Sunday tee time with coffee golf thrills: I think we see Tiger grind his way to a made cut on Friday then ping-pong between birdies and bogeys throughout Saturday before making a mini-charge as he empties the tank on Sunday. It might not be a full round of vintage Tiger, but I think a solid Sunday gets him inside the top 30 on the final leaderboard.
Lowest round: 65 (-7)
Winning score: 277 (-11)
Winner's Sunday score: 69 (-3)
Jacob Hallex, 'The First Cut' producer
Winner -- Cameron Smith (25-1): I've picked Smith in some capacity for every major this season, so might as well keep that trend going for the Open Championship. Smith's driver is the only club in the bag that gives him fits. Thankfully, the weather is supposedly calm this week and they're playing this tournament in a big field! Greg DuCharme pointed out on Twitter that, in 2015, every top-10 finisher at St. Andrews finished outside top 84 in driving accuracy. Looking at his skill profile on DataGolf, it's a perfect fit for the Old Course. He is far above the PGA Tour average in strokes gained putting, around the green and approach. Recent successes include a T13 at the Memorial and T10 last week at the Scottish Open. Hopefully, this momentum traveled with him across the Firth of Forth.
Sleeper -- Seamus Power (80-1): On a recent episode of "The First Cut," Kyle Porter referred to Power as the "best Irish golfer in the world right now." Maybe he's right! The links should be a familiar for for the Irishman whose had great form lately. He's shown up at recent big events with a top-10 finish at the PGA Championship and T12 finish at the U.S. Open. Power is an excellent short-game player with power (no pun intended) off the tee. You can knock him for his occasional lack of accuracy, but that shouldn't be a problem at a wide-open Old Course.
Top 10 lock -- Max Homa: It's tough to find a player more likable than Homa. We've been spoiled by superstars coming onto the scene at young ages and winning majors early and often in their careers. Homa's route to PGA Tour dominance has been more old school. At age 31, he's turning into a world-class player. His last missed cut came at the Farmers Insurance Open back in January! He's actually won twice this season, including a hard-fought victory at the Wells Fargo Championship. His game is well-rounded and exceptionally great in all key metrics (excellent with the flat stick and a fantastic approach player). At 5-1 to make the top 10, I see tremendous value in backing Homa to play late in the afternoon on Sunday at St. Andrews.
Star who definitely won't win -- Patrick Cantlay: I would love to see Cantlay contend in a major. He is undoubtedly one of the best PGA Tour players of the past year. He's won the FedEx Cup and plenty of big events, but the major record still isn't there. His resume boasts only a single top-20 finish at the Open Championship, and that was all the way back in 2018. Admittedly, he played well in the Scottish Open last week, but with all the pressure of a major championship at St. Andrews, I'll fade "Patty Ice."
Surprise prediction -- Bryson DeChambeau contends: I'm bullish on DeChambeau. Part of me thinks Bryson could shock the world by overpowering the most historic golf course in the game. He already demolished Winged Foot at the 2020 U.S. Open. If the weather settles down, I could see Bryson's brand of bomb and gouge translating to success. It's not just the distance and accuracy, it's also his ability to lag putt & scramble with the best of them. He's still coming off an injury, so not going to make it an official pick. If you're looking for a contrarian play in pools or DFS, you might want to consider DeChambeau.
Tiger Woods prediction -- Emotional walk down 18th: I just want to see Big Cat have fun this week. I don't think he'll win nor do I care if he doesn't. Earlier this year on "The First Cut," we dubbed The Open Championship the "Thinking Man's Major." Tiger proved back in April that his ability to plot his way around a golf course is still sharp as ever. The walk should be easier for Woods, but the randomness of links golf could see an awkward lie that Tiger might not physically be able to hit. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that he makes the cut and gets to walk down the 18th on Sunday in what is likely his last competitive Open at St. Andrews
Lowest round: 62 (-8)
Winning score: 262 (-18)
Winner's Sunday score: 66 (-4)