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The 150th Open Championship at St. Andrews is not only a historic tournament but the year's final major championship opportunity. With massive disruption in the game of golf, the four major weeks -- and this one in particular -- take on a whole new meaning as the importance of capturing the rare crown jewels are paramount in one's quest to join golf's immortals.

In a year in which the state of the game of golf has forever changed, The Open's return to St. Andrews, the Home of Golf, is almost poetic in a sense. Historical on completely different terms, the Old Course has seen Tiger Woods complete the career grand slam, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson take the final steps of their Open careers, and players such as Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo and John Daly -- in addition to Woods and Nicklaus -- all raise the Claret Jug on the 18th green.

Tasked with sorting out which players have a realistic chance to join the past Open champions, the difficulty lies in balancing current form, major championship pedigree and links golf experience. While Collin Morikawa proved last year at Royal St. George's that past success is not a prerequisite to win, hot on his heels were Jordan Spieth and Louis Oosthuizen -- themselves a pair of former Open champions.

This list below should hopefully cut through all the noise and makes things easier when hoping to identify the winner of the 150th Open Championship. Don't miss our full Open TV schedule and coverage guide so you know when to tune in throughout the week and check out our CBS Sports expert picks and predictions for the 150th Open.

2022 Open Championship field, ranked

1. Rory McIlroy (Won in 2014): After playing four straight weeks, McIlroy has taken time away from competitive golf and will head into The Open with his latest result a T19 at the Travelers Championship. Unable to defend his 2014 title at St. Andrews due to a ruptured ligament in his left ankle from a "kickabout" with friends, the Northern Irishman's relationship with the Home of Golf is an odd one to say the least. Finishing in a tie for third in 2010, McIlroy put together rounds of 63-80-69-68 and watched Oosthuizen run away with the Claret Jug as he felt the fury of Mother Nature in the second round. One of two players to finish inside the top 10 of each major championship thus far in 2022, McIlroy is the favorite at the Old Course. In addition to his victory and T3 in 2010, the four-time major winner has notched results of T5, T4 and T2 throughout his Open career and has a great chance too add major No. 5 to his résumé.

2. Scottie Scheffler (T8 in 2021): While he was one of many premier players to miss the cut at the Scottish Open, Scheffler has proven capable of bouncing back from poor outings. Finishing inside the top 10 in his Open debut last year at Royal St. George's, the world No. 1 should be well acquitted for the test which St. Andrews will present. A four-time winner on the PGA Tour this season, Scheffler narrowly fell short of a playoff with Matt Fitzpatrick at the U.S. Open and lost to his good friends Sam Burns at the Charles Schwab Challenge in one. While McIlroy is the betting favorite, Scheffler is still the best player in the world and a victory would put him in some elite company.

3. Jon Rahm (T3 in 2021): He fell off the pace over the weekend at The Renaissance Club, but Rahm is about as sure as a sure thing in the world of golf. In the penultimate group in the final round of the U.S. Open, the former world No. 1 surprised many with a round of 4 over to finish T12 in his title defense. The Spaniard finished in a tie for third last year at Royal St. George's and impressed over the course of the final 54 holes, playing them in 12 under after opening with a round of 1 over. It has taken some time for him to get accustomed to links golf, but all signs point to him potentially grabbing his second major title.

4. Xander Schauffele (T2 in 2018): Scheffler sprinted into his Masters victory, and perhaps Schauffele can do the same at The Open. Winning the Travelers Championship and the Scottish Open in his last two starts, the 28-year-old has now won three times this season, quickly shedding the moniker of being unable to seal the deal on Sundays. The next step is to raise a major championship trophy, and St. Andrews could be the perfect landing spot for him. WIth nine top-10 finishes in his major championship career, Schauffele's first close call came in 2018 at Carnoustie when he finished T2. He has the game to compete on this stage, and now, he must believe it is his time.

5. Jordan Spieth (Won in 2017): The weekend at the Scottish Open may have been the perfect encapsulation of Spieth as a golfer. The last 36 holes were filled with hole-out eagles, clutch par saves, ridiculous short-game wizardry and head-scratching moments that made you say, "What is he doing?" Despite the emotional toll of watching Spieth, he remains for my money the best links player in the world. In eight Open appearances, Spieth has a victory at Royal Birkdale, a runner-up at Royal St. George's, a T4 at St. Andrews and another top 10 at Carnoustie. He stepped into St. Andrews seven years ago in possession of the Masters and U.S. Open and came close to raising the Claret Jug after jumping into a share of the lead with a birdie on the 70th hole.

6. Matt Fitzpatrick (T20 in 2019): The U.S. Open winner shook off any rust last week and finished a respectable T6 at the Scottish Open. Good for his eighth top-10 finish of 2022, Fitzpatrick has zero holes in his game and should be able to play a factor at St. Andrews. Adding significant distance off the tee will allow him to play angles more effectively around the Old Course, but this test may not be suitable for his style of play. Known for limiting mistakes and keeping the ball in front of him, the Englishman can occasionally slip down the leaderboard when ideal scoring conditions are present. Splitting hairs, yes, but those tend to add up in major championships.

7. Justin Thomas (T11 in 2019): Since his PGA Championship victory, Thomas has actually been a touch volatile with finishes of 3rd and T37 bookended by missed cuts. The best players in the world tend to rise to the occasion in major championships, and the two-time major winner is no different. When looking at his play from Southern Hills as well as the Players Championship, Thomas has clearly become one of the most creative players in the field. he is likely hoping the wind does in fact blow with some ferocity as he will quickly ascend up this list, and more importantly, the leaderboard.

8. Patrick Cantlay (T12 in 2018): For a big game hunter, Cantlay has been unable to do just that in major championships, but a quiet T14 finish at the U.S. Open could be the turning point in his career. Consistently a fixture on leaderboards, the reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year arrives at St. Andrews off a T4 result at the Scottish Open. This marked his seventh top-five finish of the season, though he has inexplicably been held without a solo victory. Cantlay has often done his best work at golf courses where birdies are plentiful, and given the tool belt of the modern player, St. Andrews will be susceptible for low scores.

9. Will Zalatoris (WD in 2021): It almost feels like Zalatoris is in the exact same spot as Morikawa last season before his Open triumph. You could argue this is his debut appearance in the championship as he had to withdraw at Royal St. George's after injuring his wrist when attempting to hit his ball out of the high grass. The other player to finish inside the top 10 of each major this season, Zalatoris has experienced much closer calls than McIlroy. Never in it at the Masters, the world No. 13 lost in a playoff at the PGA Championship and came mere inches from forcing one at the U.S. Open. His ball-striking is elite, and his putting has been as well in major championships. There is some concern whether this upswing is sustainable, but if he has a solid performance on the massive greens of St. Andrews, he will be right there.

10. Dustin Johnson (T2 in 2011): From a betting perspective, Johnson is my favorite selection to win The Open as he continues to drift down the odds board. The two-time major winner is an underrated links player having captured six top-15 finishes in 12 prior Opens. He comes into this year's championship having figured out his putting woes, which hampered his spring season. Since then, he has notched back-to-back top-10 finishes in LIV Golf events and finished T24 at the U.S. Open. 

11. Cameron Smith (T20 in 2019): I am a bit colder than most on Smith's prospects for the week as he has cooled off after a strong start to his 2022 campaign. His iron play has dropped since spring, and his short game has experienced some turbulent moments. Three rounds in the 60s at The Renaissance Club with a T10 finish suggests he can contend this week and improve on his Open record.

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12. Shane Lowry (Won in 2019): Two years after the fact, Lowry put together a nice defense effort at Royal St. George's with a T12 result. One of the most consistent players on the PGA Tour during the spring, the Irishman was a surprise omission from the weekend action at the U.S. Open. He has since finished T9 at the Irish Open and possesses the short-game magic often required to raise a Claret Jug. The putter has been cold for the past month and will need to heat up if he is to find his name on the first page of the leaderboard.

13. Hideki Matsuyama (T6 in 2013): A final round of 5 under at the U.S. Open was enough to give Matsuyama a solo fourth-place finish at The Country Club. Right when you think you have figured out the former Masters champion, he misses a cut just as he did at the Scottish Open. Matsuyama remains an enigma, and his Open record speaks to that. In seven appearances, the 30-year-old has three missed cuts and secured three top-20 finishes, including a T18 at St. Andrews in 2015.

14. Collin Morikawa (Won in 2021): By my count, last week marked the first instance in Morikawa's career that he lost strokes in each tee to green category as he missed the cut at the Scottish Open. The good news is his putter has looked sharp in his last two outings as he gained more than four strokes on the greens at the U.S. Open en route to a T5 result and posted +3.04 strokes gained putting in two rounds at The Renaissance Club. The two-time major champion has elevated his performance in these championships, but it may be too much to ask him to defend his title given the relative unsteadiness in his current game.

15. Max Homa (T40 in 2021): It was a nice debut last year at Royal St. George's and may have served as a launch pad into this year's major championships where he has seen the weekend in all three. A balky putter hindered Homa's chances at The Country Club, but his ball-striking will allow him to contend in any and all conditions. He entered the final nine of the Scottish Open two strokes off the lead only to finish T16, but he backed up what he has been saying all along. Homa loves links golf and believes this championship is his best opportunity to win a major. Now, it's time to prove it.

16. Joaquin Niemann (T59 in 2021): The young Chilean missed the cut at the Travelers Championship and rebounded with a nice T16 last week at the Scottish Open. Gaining strokes in each tee to green metric, nearly any improvement on the greens could propel him into the conversation for The Open. He hits one of the lowest balls in the game and is sneakily one of the most imaginative players around the green. He has played well at major championship setups on the PGA Tour; let's see if he can do it when it counts.

17. Tony Finau (3 in 2019): Statistically, Finau should be ranked near the top 10, but his inability to win throughout his tenure on the PGA Tour is a red flag. His Open results are wildly impressive and are likely going under the radar as, in five prior showings, he boasts finishes of T15, 3, T9, T27 and T18. He has been tremendous from tee to green since his runner up at the Mexico Open, but when it comes down to it, can you trust him to make an 8-foot par save on the back nine Sunday?

18. Sam Burns (T76 in 2021): You may have to sift through some dirt, but I believe there has been enough good in Burns' game recently where he can seriously threaten this week at St. Andrews. He was in the mix at the U.S. Open and Scottish Open at the halfway point and has made a habit of winning in 2022. The 25-year-old's ball-striking has been so-so the last month but can run as hot as anyone with the flat stick in hand.

19. Tommy Fleetwood (2 in 2019): A runner-up to Lowry at Royal Portrush, the long-haired Englishman is beginning to peak at the perfect time. Fleetwood finished T4 at the Scottish Open and T5 at the PGA Championship in May, both of which were in blustery conditions. Like Finau, he should probably be a smidge higher, but the inability to enter the winner's circle is a concern, especially on this stage.

20. Brooks Koepka (T4 in 2019): Sadly, he is no longer the golfer who dominated the sport from 2017-19, but he doesn't have to be to play a role in this championship. Just last season, Koepka finished T2 at the PGA Championship, T4 at the U.S. Open and T6 at The Open. He will have his ears pinned back for this one. Koepka has long said St. Andrews is his favorite course in the world, and if he can find lightning in a bottle for a week, you best believe it is when a major is on the line.

21. Louis Oosthuizen (Won in 2010): Outside of Woods, no one in the field has played the Old Course in a more effective manner than Oosthuizen. A winner here in 2010, the South African nearly added another Claret Jug to his mantle five years later when he lost in a playoff to Zach Johnson. He has quietly been playing some good golf for LIV Golf and the DP World Tour. Given the consistency in which he contends in major championships, I would not be surprised to see him right there come Sunday.

22. Viktor Hovland (T12 in 2021): It has been a summer to forget for Hovland as things went from bad to worse when an airline lost his clubs ahead of the Scottish Open. The Norwegian ended up missing the cut, but it was mainly due to his shortcomings on and around the green as he turned in his best ball-striking performance since The Players Championship. Often linked to Morikawa and Matthew Wolff, it is surprisingly Hovland who is the one without a top-10 finish. That could change at St. Andrews if the chipping and putting cooperate.