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The 2022 U.S. Open is about to begin, leaving the golf world to ask one key question: Who is going to win at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts? A tremendous field headlines the third major of the year as the list features most of the best professionals in the world. The U.S. Open should be an epic ride from Thursday's first round onward as the USGA returns to this site for the first time since 1988.

This year's U.S. Open may have a massive field, but there's a lot of momentum behind a finite list of names to capture the national championship. Rory McIlroy enters on a heater after defending his RBC Canadian Open title. Justin Thomas is looking to go back-to-back at majors coming off his second such title at the PGA Championship. Scottie Scheffler's play has cooled off, but he's attempting to join rarified air with a Masters-U.S. Open double. All of that is not to mention Jon Rahm hanging around and Brooks Koepka's usual dominance at this event where he's only been defeated by four golfers, combined, at U.S. Opens since 2017.

And then, of course, there is the Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson storyline. What do you do with a couple of big-time names and multiple major winners who are not playing good golf but continue to generate headlines entering a major championship? With no Tiger Woods, even more attention than usual will be on Mickelson in particular this week.

Add it all up, and it would appear that we're in for a wild U.S. Open full of unexpected twists and turns but also a lot of familiar names atop the U.S. Open leaderboard in Round 1. Check out our full U.S. Open TV schedule and coverage guide so you do not miss a minute of the action.

So what is going to happen this week in Brookline? 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 third major of the season. Odds via Caesars Sportsbook.

2022 U.S. Open expert picks, predictions

Kyle Porter, senior golf writer

Winner -- Justin Thomas (11-1): He's playing the best golf of his career and has paired an ever-present confidence that nobody in the world is better than him with a wisdom that can only be attained with age and experience. J.T. is one of the three best iron players on the planet, and his hot putter has translated to wins and near wins for the last two months. That's not going to change this week as he pulls even with Jordan Spieth with three career major championships.

Sleeper -- Davis Riley (60-1): Quietly playing some of the best golf in the world, Riley's swing reeks of one that could claim a U.S. Open trophy. What he does best (smash irons) is exactly what you need to do best at major championships and especially at U.S. Opens. Five straight top 20s for Riley (including the PGA Championship) that I expect him to make six. 

Top 10 lock -- Brooks Koepka: I'm banking on getting U.S. Open Brooks instead of "rest of the year" Brooks. He's finished 1-1-2-T4 consecutively at this tournament and understands its rhythms perhaps better than anyone in history. Is he playing well? Not really, but he missed three of four cuts heading into last year's U.S. Open and then nearly won it. 

Star who definitely won't win -- Dustin Johnson: The reasons here are multiple. The first is that he's not playing particularly great golf. He also doesn't have a win since the 2020 Masters and only has one top 10 in a PGA Tour stroke play event so far this year. Furthermore, this week has been such a circus that even D.J. has to be feeling it. He's among those spearheading the rival LIV Golf league, and though his exterior seems to be impermeable, the din has become so loud that I'm not even sure he can ignore it. 

Surprise prediction -- Thomas and Rory McIlroy duel on Sunday: I don't know if it's a surprise that two of the five best golfers in the world would jab each other for one of the four most coveted titles, but the dream scenario (a redux from last weekend's Canadian Open) rarely plays out like this. It would be the perfect ending to a fortnight of madness in the golf world.

Phil Mickelson prediction -- Relevance has already passed this week: We've already heard what we will get from Mickelson this week. He's not playing good golf right now, and he's certainly not going to make the cut at a U.S. Open. He hasn't finished at the top 25 at this tournament since he nearly won in 2013.

Lowest round: 65 (-5)
Winning score: 278 (-2)
Winner's Sunday score: 70 (E)

Patrick McDonald, golf writer

Winner -- Patrick Cantlay (25-1): The major championship record is poor, but take out his missed cuts at the PGA Championship and The Players Championship, and Cantlay has unbelievable this year. In those 10 starts, he has a win, two playoff losses, three top-five finishes and another top 10. I love the reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year when we get him on a golf course where off the tee prowess will be influential in determining the winner. He has the complete package, and it is time for him to shed the monkey off his back.

Sleeper -- Corey Conners (45-1): He was a semifinalist at the 2013 U.S. Amateur, which is nice, but the current state of the Canadian's game is tailor made for a U.S. Open. Accurate off the tee and deadly with his irons, Conners has experienced an uptick in his short-game numbers the past three months. If he can convert enough of those crucial up-and-down saves, he should be right there come Sunday.

Top 10 lock -- Shane Lowry: Lowry's first taste of major championship contention was the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont. Ever since, I have believed his game to be perfect for the sternest examination in golf. He is in the midst of some of the best form of his life, and the consistency in which he hits fairways and greens in regulation will allow him to be a factor at The Country Club. 

Star who won't win -- Cameron Smith: Accuracy hasn't mattered all too much in recent U.S. Opens, but this year will be different. If this theory holds substance, the Australian will struggle as he regularly loses strokes off the tee due to his waywardness with driver in hand. Smith has contended in the first two majors of the year so this comes with a high level of risk, but I could see the world No. 6 playing defense from the start.

Surprise prediction -- Rory McIlroy misses the cut: I have McIlroy missing the cut one out of every five times, so there is some value in his prop if you choose to indulge. The four-time major champion was runner-up at the Masters, first-round leader at the PGA Championship and all signs point to him grabbing No. 5 at The Country Club. It was an exhausting week in Canada, and while his play is beginning to mirror that of 2014, the occasional mental lapse and inaccuracy off the tee could spell trouble for him. 

Phil Mickelson prediction -- Missed cut despite positive fan response: With two spicy takes out of the way, we now go to something much more bland. The perception around Phil isn't great at the moment, but I expect the Boston fans to welcome him with open arms -- outside of the occasional heckler. Despite this, let us remember that this is a 52-year-old who has only played three competitive rounds in the last four months and showed considerable rust in London.

Lowest round: 66 (-4)
Winning score: 278 (-2)
Winner's Sunday score: 70 (E)

Who will win the U.S. Open, and which long shots will stun the golfing world? Visit SportsLine now to see the projected leaderboard and best bets, all from the model that's nailed eight golf majors and is up over $9,500 since the restart.

Kyle Boone, writer

Winner -- Cameron Smith (18-1): Brookline is going to demand precisely what Smith can bring: a killer short game for its lightning-quick greens and precision off the tees for the numerous blind shots golfers will be making this week. Smith is third on the PGA Tour this season in strokes gained approach and 11th in strokes gained with the putter. If he plays his game, he'll be in the mix, and we've already seen him this season hang with the big dogs with wins at The Players Championship and the Sentry Open plus top-five finishes at the Masters and the RSM Classic.

Sleeper -- Mito Pereira (55-1): With eight top 25 finishes in 21 events on the season, the 27-year-old Pereira is quietly putting together a breakout year in what is effectively his rookie campaign. Three times he's finished among the top 10, including twice in his last three outings. One of those ended in heartbreak, as he held the lead walking to hole No. 72 at the PGA Championship before giving up the lead thanks to a bungled drive. Nonetheless, Pereira is a name who could -- but should not be -- overlooked this week given his play to this point. At 55-1, he qualifies as one of the most capable underdog contenders in this year's U.S. Open field.

Top 10 lock -- Rory McIlroy: It feels like this week is setting up to be a Rory coronation. On top of a win at the Canadian Open last weekend, he's got top-10 finishes at three of his last four events: the Masters, Wells Fargo Championship and PGA Championship. At this point, it's not a fluke: McIlroy has found his form and is hitting stride at the right time. He's the favorite for a reason this week and finishing top 10 should be the floor.

Star who definitely won't win -- Dustin Johnson: If you haven't caught the news lately, D.J. these days may be a tad, well, distracted. He became the first major domino to join the LIV Golf tour for a reported $125 million, and he subsequently withdrew his PGA Tour membership. There's a lot going on in his world. On the course, there's reason to suggest the former world No. 1 won't win. He finished six strokes off the leader at LIV's first event, which featured a weak field. And in the PGA Tour season, he had more missed cuts than top 10s on the year.  

Surprise prediction -- Sam Burns finishes in the top five: Burns is 25-1 to win straight up. Do not hate those odds one bit, but a top-five finish is a much safer wager. Since winning at the Valspar Championship in March, he has two top-five finishes and another win (at the Charles Schwab two weeks ago). He's also coming in to the weekend with a T4 at the Canadian Open where he was able to hang tough with the likes of Thomas, Shane Lowry and Scottie Scheffler.

Phil Mickelson prediction -- Missed cut: Lefty shot 10 over in three rounds last weekend, his first competitive action since a months-long hiatus that began in February. There's no reason to expect he'll do anything but miss the cut. Even before his time away, he missed cuts in his last two outings. He's a long ways away from finding the same form that helped him win at the PGA Championship in stunning fashion a year ago.

Lowest round: 64 (-6)
Winning score: 267 (-13)
Winner's Sunday score: 68 (-2)

Jacob Hallex, First Cut producer

Winner -- Rory McIlroy (10-1): The oddsmakers have McIlroy pegged as the favorite. I think they're right on. We've seen glimpses of his greatness throughout this season: the Sunday 64 at Augusta National, his first-round statement at the PGA Championship. Rory is generational driver of the golf ball who was able to win last week at another classic course, albeit that one had less penal rough. Another major win is coming for McIlroy at some point; it just has to, right? The last player to win on the PGA Tour and follow it with a major victory was McIlroy himself back in 2014 where he won WGC-Bridgestone ahead of his PGA victory at Valhalla.

Top 10 lock -- Cameron Smith: You can write it in ink that Smith will be on my betting card for the foreseeable future. The driver is always a concern, which is why I'm less bullish on the outright win, but his iron-game, putting and ability to get the ball up and down from seemingly anywhere makes me think a top 10 is in play. He's had his fair share of struggles at U.S. Opens in the past with only a T4 as the standout finish. That came in 2015 at Chambers Bay, a course quite different from the typical U.S. Open venue. Still, I will stick to my conviction. I believe he is the best player in the world without a major, so let's take him for a top-10 finish.

Star who definitely won't win -- Brooks Koepka: Brooks might be past his prime in the majors. Please nobody show him this because this is the exact thing he would use as motivation to go out win another U.S. Open. The reality is that the results just haven't been there for him this year, and he hasn't been playing much at all. He might have played some competitive rounds during his bachelor party, but since I can only see what he did at the PGA and Masters this year, I'll pass on Koepka as a legitimate contender.

Surprise prediction -- Louis Oosthuizen makes a run: Oosty might come into the week as LIV Golf's top contender. Driving accuracy is an asset at classic courses the USGA loves, and you won't find many more accurate drivers than Louis. He's finished inside the top 10 each of these past three seasons. While he is 65-1 to win this week, it be worth a tiny sprinkle if you're inclined. 

Phil Mickelson prediction -- Missed cut: This won't be much of a surprise, but it feels like Phil is going to miss the cut. His press conference Monday looked like an obligation of which he hated every minute. Showing up this week and playing feels like another obligation, but he can't exactly miss the U.S. Open given it's the lone hole in his stellar career. The weight of the golf world is on his shoulders, and it's a burden he went out of his way to carry. That much external pressure can't bring success on the golf course, especially considering his previous kerfuffles with the USGA.

Lowest round: 66 (-4)
Winning score: 264 (-6)
Winner's Sunday score: 69 (-1)