Keytron Jordan, CBS Sports design

With the 124th U.S. Open on deck, it's time to narrow down the field of 156 golf to the nine who we believe can win this year's event. Pinehurst is a monster with only four golfers in history breaking par across three U.S. Opens held at the course. Three of those under-par tournaments happened in 2014 when Martin Kaymer, Rickie Fowler and Erik Compton all shot lower than 280.

So, we know it's going to be a war against the golf course, and we believe we have identified the pool of nine players that includes the eventual winner. Obviously, any list like this has to start with the top player in the world. After that, we went with who's playing good golf, who's played good major golf this year and who has had success at past U.S. Opens.

Even then, there are difficult decisions to make, and history is not always the greatest indicator of success at Pinehurst. Michael Campbell won at this course after qualifying out of sectionals in 2005. Nobody on this list had to attend sectionals in 2024. Regardless, it would be a surprise (maybe even a stunner) if the eventual U.S. Open champion on Sunday was not in this group of nine going into the event.

Take a look at our full breakdown below along with 2024 U.S. Open picks and expert predictions from our CBS Sports staff. and don't miss the complete U.S. Open TV schedule and coverage guide so you don't miss a second of action all week.

2024 U.S. Open predictions, favorites

Expecting someone else? Scheffler has won five of his last eight events, been defeated by nine golfers since March 1 and has been the best major golfer for the last five years as well. Since Jan. 1, 2020, Scheffler's 2.95 strokes gained is head and shoulders above second on the list (Will Zalatoris, 2.64). Scheffler is torching everyone right now. He has lost to nine golfers over his last three U.S. Opens, two of which were completely winnable for him on Sunday. Scheffler might not join Tiger Woods as the first to win six times in a year, including two majors, but he's going to be a hell of an out at Pinehurst this weekend. Odds: 3-1
The two-time major winner went from being a bit overrated to wildly underrated. I've never seen somebody who has won two of his last 16 majors playing as well as Morikawa come into an event like this with less hype. This is the major he's actually supposed to win, too, and if his short game is as good as it's been for the last few months, I think he will contend to do just that. Odds: 16-1
It's been a bit lost in what Scheffler has done so far this year, but McIlroy is having a terrific season. If Scheffler wasn't out there destroying the world, it would be easier to recognize that McIlroy is doing his usual 2.25 strokes gained per round thing, which is more or less what he's done for the last 13 years. Additionally, he's become a low-key terrific U.S. Open player. After missing each cut from 2016-18, he has five consecutive top-nine finishes. His 3.26 strokes gained per round at U.S. Opens since 2019 ranks No. 1 ahead of Scheffler, who is at 2.99. That's startling to me and a sign that he could be in for a monstrous week. Odds: 11-1
I left Schauffele off this same list ahead of the PGA Championship not because I was unconvinced of the talent level but rather because he had yet to prove he could close. Apparently, he can. And now, all those top 10s in major championships take on a bit of a different look. Suddenly, instead of being the guy who couldn't win the big one, he's the guy who was building toward a major (or possibly several). His game has been extraordinary this year, and if you take it all the way back to 2015, nobody in this field -- not Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson nor McIlroy -- has been better at U.S. Opens. Odds: 10-1
It only took me about six years of him winning majors to finally buy in to what he was selling, and now that I'm bought in, he may have stopped winning majors. Koepka doesn't have a top 10 in his last four major starts since winning the PGA Championship at Oak Hill last year, but he is still to be feared at U.S. Opens. The reason? It's not his tee to green play or his aura or his ability to get up and down from anywhere. No, it's his patient decision making. Odds: 22-1
It's been all or nothing for Zalatoris, who has proven to be a much better major player than he is PGA Tour player at regular events. He has two top-six finishes in his last two U.S. Open starts, and despite a bit of a swoon since this year's Masters, he should return to form at this U.S. Open. Zalatoris is the new Koepka at U.S. Opens just minus, you know, the wins thus far. Odds: 80-1
It's fair to have some reservations about DeChambeau at Pinehurst, but broadly, he should be among the top five to eight favorites. He's been awesome at majors so far this year, and it's encouraging how well he played Augusta National, a course that has always given him fits. While the Pinehurst-Augusta comps are not perfect, they're certainly better than, say, Pinehurst and Valhalla. The only thing that holds me back whatsoever is that he lost strokes around the greens at the Masters in April, and these green surrounding at Pinehurst are going to be just as diabolical, if not more so. Odds: 20-1
Åberg has quietly been among the best players in the world this year, and if Scheffler wasn't on his Tiger-like run, he would probably have a green jacket to his name. Valhalla was not as kind to him, but Pinehurst probably sets up better for his tee-to-green bonanza. I worry a bit about his creativity around the greens, but in terms of playing angles and hitting golf shots, there are no concerns whatsoever. There is so little major data to consider as far as he's concerned, so it's difficult to prognosticate, but I know what I watched at Augusta National in April. Åberg is a superstar, and Pinehurst would fit nicely on his resume. Odds: 20-1
It's the last name that jumps off the page when going down the list of guys playing well. He's among the best iron players in the world, and his U.S. Open record is strong. Matsuyama has not missed a cut since 2016 at Oakmont, and he has top-32 finishes in each of the last seven majors, including a couple of top fours. He gets slept on quite a bit is a legitimate threat to win this tournament. Odds: 35-1

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 12 golf majors, including the last three Masters and the 2024 PGA Championship.