Keytron Jordan, CBS Sports

A reprieve from the bluster that has surrounded the world of golf thankfully comes this week with the 2023 U.S. Open approaching. As golfers and their fans prepare for the third major championship of the season, one primary question comes to mind: Who are you picking to win this year at Los Angeles Country Club? With a 156-man field featuring the best professionals in the world, we are in for a thrill ride from Thursday's first round onward.

While the extra-large field may make the U.S. Open feel like anyone's to claim, there is a three-headed monster atop the sport right now with Scottie Scheffler, Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka raking in victories and top-level statistics. Scheffler and Rahm are each seeking their second career majors, while Koepka is attempting to enter rarified air with his six; his five prior such wins have all come either at this event or the PGA Championship.

Then there are Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson, both of whom are seeking history in different manners. McIlroy is attempting to get off an extended major championship schneid that now extends nine years and 32 events. In that time, he has managed 17 top-10 finishes with top eights in four of his last five majors. Mickelson, meanwhile, continues to pine for the elusive career grand slam with the U.S. Open remaining his white whale. Lefty has six (!) second-place finishes in the event, though he has not placed better than T28 since 2013. Is this the year he finally gets it done?

Let's not forget Max Homa and Collin Morikawa, who will be looking to pull off a victory in their native L.A. Homa is still seeking his first major, of course; with no top 10s in such events, the 32-year-old who holds the course record at LACC (61 during the 2013 Pac-12 Championship) hopes to make a splash. Morikawa, meanwhile, seeks to add the third leg to his career grand slam with victories already at the PGA Championship (2020) and Open Championship (2021). He has finished in the top five across the last two U.S. Opens and already has a top 10 this year at the Masters.

Add it all up, and it would appear that we're in for a wild U.S. Open week full of unexpected twists and turns but also a lot of familiar names atop the leaderboard.

So what is going to happen in Hollywood? 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 one of the most prestigious golf tournaments in the world. Join us for U.S. Open coverage in the lead up to Thursday's first round as well as a ranking of the U.S. Open field and a look at the nine golfers most likely to win the U.S. Open. Plus, check out a full set of 2023 U.S. Open odds provided by Caesars Sportsbook.

2023 U.S. Open expert picks, predictions

Kyle Porter, senior golf writer

Winner -- Scottie Scheffler (6-1): I can't help myself. His ball-striking is historically good right now, and he'll be patient until the very end. If he putts at all -- I mean, at all -- we're going to be talking about two-time major champion Scottie Scheffler possibly running the table on one of the great modern seasons in PGA Tour history this coming Sunday night.

Sleeper -- Patrick Reed (80-1): Is Reed likely to win this week? No, of course not. But he's been playing outstanding major championship golf so far this year with top 20s at both the Masters and PGA Championship, and his short game should thrive on the tricky terrain of LACC. 

Top 10 lock -- Xander Schauffele: His record at the U.S. Open is sterling. And while I don't see him as a huge threat to actually win the tournament, he's finished in the top 10 in five of six appearances. I expect him to do so once again.

Star who definitely won't win -- Patrick Cantlay: This has traditionally been a good spot to put Cantlay, who has just four top 10s in 25 major championship appearances. He has all the game, all the skill in the world. But for some reason, he has just lacked figuring out how to solve major championships at this point in his career.

Scottie Scheffler vs. Jon Rahm vs. Brooks Koepka: Other than Scheffler on top, I have Koepka finishing ahead of Rahm. In fact, they may well wind up 1-2-3 on the leaderboard by the time the final putt drops Sunday.

Surprise prediction -- Phil Mickelson finishes in the top 25: Lefty will be in high spirits all week following the PGA Tour-PIF deal (even if it's probably not what he ultimately wanted). And while finishing in the top 25 does nothing for his legacy, it's also not something he's accomplished at a U.S. Open since 2013. This course is good for him, though, and he's playing some really solid golf.

Lowest round: 65 (-5)
Winning score: 276 (-4)
Winner's Sunday score: 70 (E)

Patrick McDonald, golf writer

Winner -- Jon Rahm (9-1): Major pedigree, current form and a love affair with the state of California all point to Rahm. Across 25 starts in Cali, the world No. 2 has collected five trophies, including one down the street earlier this season at Riviera. The 2021 U.S. Open champion is one of two players to rank inside the top 40 of each strokes-gained category over the last six months. He also enjoyed a nice tune up at the Memorial where he ranked second in strokes gained approach.

Sleeper -- Russell Henley (100-1): The last time the U.S. Open was held in California, there were a number of odd names on the leaderboard; Henley was among them. The Georgia standout held the 18-, 36- and 54-hole lead at Torrey Pines before a poor final round sent him tumbling to a T13 finish. Over the last three months, he ranks seventh in this field in total strokes gained and fifth in terms of Driving Accuracy.

Top 10 lock -- Scottie Scheffler: I'll be using the FREE space on my bingo card here. Scheffler rides 15 straight top-12 finishes on the PGA Tour into the U.S. Open and has proven he can finish on the first page of the leaderboard without the help of his putter. The tee-to-green metrics are historic, the bogey rate is nearing 2000 Tiger Woods levels, and if the putter cooperates at all, then that's just gravy. He's finished T2 and T7 in his last two U.S. Opens.

Star who definitely won't win -- Max Homa: The L.A. native is the only player inside the top 10 of the Official World Golf Rankings without a top-10 finish in a major championship. Not since Webb Simpson in 2012 has a player gone onto win a major without a prior top 10. Homa has flashed some form, and he has a nice history here. This is a massive home game for him, but it may ultimately prove to be too much to handle.

Scottie Scheffler vs. Jon Rahm vs. Brooks Koepka: Well, since I have Rahm winning and Scheffler finishing inside the top 10, that just leaves us with Koepka. I am bearish on the five-time major champion as we simply haven't seen him play as much as the other two. In his 14 major appearances since 2014 that he did not play the week prior, Koepka has seven finishes outside the top 30.

Surprise prediction -- Rickie Fowler threatens for his first major: I know, I know. But the resurgence is real. Fowler arrives off back-to-back top-10 finishes, one of which came at Jack's Place where he had a real chance to win on the back nine Sunday. The wider fairways should alleviate the stress of the big stick, and the rest of his game will be up to the major test. Fowler will be live come Sunday.

Lowest round: 64 (-6)
Winning score: 270  (-10)
Winner's Sunday score: 67 (-3)

Who will win the U.S. Open, and which longshots will stun the golfing world? Visit SportsLine to see the projected U.S. Open leaderboard, all from the model that's nailed nine golf majors, including this year's Masters.

Dean Straka, golf writer

Winner -- Brooks Koepka (17/2): Picking Koepka to prevail at the PGA Championship worked out alright, and I'm following suit for the other major championship he seeks to win for the third time. The U.S. Open can make the best golfers in the world look like mere mortals, but Koepka has proven more than once that is not fazed by the game's greatest test of skill. Between confidence from winning this event twice and momentum acquired at Oak Hill, it's too hard to bet against a man who could easily have entered this week sitting 2-0 in majors this year after holding the 54-hole lead at the Masters. Kopeka has never won consecutive majors, but he did win three in a span of 11 months -- one U.S. Open and two PGA Championships -- from June 2018 to May 2019.

Sleeper -- Sahith Theegala (55-1): This is a home game of sorts for Theegala, who grew up in nearby Orange County before starring a short drive up the coast at Pepperdine University. Appropriately, he's fared well more than once in Southern California-based events this season. Among seven top 10 finishes this season for Theegala are a T4 at Torrey Pines and a T6 at Riviera Country Club. Other highlights include a ninth-place finish at the Masters, his best at a major to date. Though Theegala hasn't been playing his best golf in the month leading up to the U.S. Open, I'll still have my eyes on him as he looks to join Woods as the just the second Southern California-native to win this event. 

Top 10 lock -- Scottie Scheffler: The putter had me questioning last month how he might fare at the PGA Championship, and as it turned out, that hardly mattered as he posted a runner-up finish to reclaim the world No. 1 ranking. He's now posted a top-five finish in four consecutive starts and in 14 of 18 total events played this season. Scheffler has finished in the top 10 in the U.S. Open each of the past two years, including a runner-up finish last June at Brookline. Even if Scheffler isn't emerging on top, it's hard to envision him not contending on Sunday.

Star who definitely won't win -- Justin Thomas: Writing off a two-time major champion has its risks, but it hasn't exactly been an inspiring season for Thomas. He missed the cut at the Masters for the first time in his career this April, and his PGA Championship title defense last month resulted in a T65 finish at 12 over. Thomas' second missed cut of the season came in his most recent start two weeks back at the Memorial. He has still managed three top-10 finishes this season, but nothing exactly screams that a special week is on deck for the 30-year-old amid a rollercoaster year. 

Scottie Scheffler vs. Jon Rahm vs. Brooks Koepka: Well, you already all saw where I picked Koepka to land. As for the two highest-ranked golfers in the world, it'll be no surprise if Scheffler and Rahm are both in the top 10 once the dust settles. I'll take Scheffler to post the better finish of the two. That's been the case in all three events featuring both players since Rahm's victory at the Masters. Of those three events, Scheffler's worst finish was T11 at the RBC Heritage. Rahm, meanwhile, finished as high as T50 at the PGA Championship, an event in which Scheffler posted a runner-up finish. While trends aren't the end-all-be-all in predicting majors, Scheffler's consistency right now in regards to his finishing position -- both overall and relative to Rahm -- gives him the edge over the 2021 U.S. Open champion. 

Surprise prediction -- Phil Mickelson comfortably makes the cut: A U.S. Open title remains elusive for Mickelson, and the soon-to-be 53-year-old has another chance to complete the career grand slam this week in his home state. We're only 25 months removed from Mickelson becoming the oldest major champion in golf history when he won the 2021 PGA Championship at age 50, and though he's missed the cut at U.S. Open in two of the past three years, Mickelson did post a runner-up finish at this year's Masters before making the cut at the PGA Championship in May. A triumph at LACC would be an unprecedented feat for somebody in Mickelson's age range as he attempts to break his own record as the oldest golfer to win a major -- Friday is his birthday -- but nobody should be blindsided if Lefty does manage to make some noise out west.

Lowest round: 66 (-4)
Winning score:
275 (-5)
Winner's score Sunday: 68 (-2)

Adam Silverstein, director of editorial

Winner -- Collin Morikawa (25-1): Scheffler, Rahm, Koepka: boring, boring, boring. It's not difficult to pick among the top three golfers in the game, but let's spread our wings a little and try to make some money. Morikawa has largely figured out U.S. Opens with top-five finishes in his last two tries as well as consecutive top 10s at the Masters. In fact, he has six top 10s in his last nine major starts. Sure, his back acted up last week, but I'm not overly concerned about a 26-year-old bouncing back to contend at a big-time event. Besides his on-course bonafides, Morikawa will have home cooking this week playing in his native L.A. at a course he's played numerous times. These are incredible odds for a guy who has as good a chance to win as nearly all (but three) above him on the oddsboard.

Sleeper -- Rickie Fowler (50-1): I'm not completely sure that I believe in Fowler despite the fact that he has found his game again in 2023, but there's no questioning that his level of play is extraordinarily high. He enters off consecutive top-10 finishes and will get some relief with the wide-open fairways presented by LACC (as Patrick mentioned above). Fowler is still looking for his first career major, but could you imagine if a guy long criticized for being over-hyped actually pulls off a major victory in Hollywood of all places?

Top 10 lock -- Scottie Scheffler: His tee-to-green play is just mesmerizing right now. If the putter wasn't needed to complete holes, you could call him legitimately unstoppable. But the putter is indeed in the bag, and as long as that is the case, it's tough to pick Scottie at 6-1 to win the U.S. Open. Taking him as a guaranteed top-10 finisher, though? Talk about being in the bag.

Star who definitely won't win -- Patrick Cantlay: There's three star golfers I simply do not trust at majors despite others talking up their games: Cantlay, Xander Schauffele and Tommy Fleetwood. The former two have been consistently around the top 10-15 at majors over the last few years, but they simply cannot seem to get the job done. I'm singling out Cantlay here simply because he will be a bigger name this week as a Long Beach native playing near his hometown, and Schauffele seems to be a better U.S. Open player. These guys are still earning tons of money and largely playing great golf, but I don't see Cantlay coming out on top of this field.

Scottie Scheffler vs. Jon Rahm vs. Brooks Koepka: Rahm looked unstoppable coming out of the Masters, but a T50 finish at the PGA Championship cooled my jets on him. Koepka now looks unstoppable coming out of that PGA, and there's yet to be any reason to doubt that he will step up to the challenge again. So give me Scheffler finishing ahead of Koepka with Rahm picking up the rear, though it would not be a surprise if all three finished in the top 10 -- heck, perhaps even the top five.

Surprise prediction -- Phil Mickelson misses the cut: This would not be a surprise for your's truly, but it would be for numerous golf fans who expect to see Lefty contend at this U.S. Open because they remember his shocking T2 finish at the Masters in April. Here's how Mickelson has performed at the last five majors he played other than that Masters: T62, CUT, CUT, CUT, T58. Yes, he's a California native. Yes, he needs the U.S. Open to complete the career grand slam. I don't see it happening this week -- at all.

Lowest round: 65 (-5)
Winning score:
 273 (-7)
Winner's score Sunday: 69 (-1)