U.S. Open 2022 predictions: Four golfers who should be top contenders originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
One of the most prestigious tournaments in all of sports, the U.S. Open, is back at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, for the first time since 1988.
While most of the talk in the sport currently surrounds the feud between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, the actual action on the course this week promises to be phenomenal.
Golfers will need to be disciplined, accurate and mentally tough to conquer the many difficult holes at this historic venue.
Here's a list of four golfers who should be top contenders to win the 122nd U.S. Open at The Country Club.
Scottie Scheffler (+1300)
The No. 1 ranked player in the world comes to The Country Club as the safest bet to win or be in contention late Sunday afternoon.
Scheffler has dominated this season. He has played in 17 tournaments with 15 cuts made, 12 top 25 finishes, eight top 10 finishes, two runner-up finishes and three victories. One of those wins was at The Masters in April when he won by three strokes at Augusta National Golf Club. He also won the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March.
The 25-year-old star surprisingly missed the cut at the PGA Championship last month. But he bounced back in fine fashion, losing in a playoff at the Charles Schwab Challenge the following week.
Scheffler ranks fifth on the PGA Tour in 2022 with a 69.537 average score in 67 rounds played. He also ranks second on the Tour in greens in regulation (GIR) at 71.63 percent, along with an average driving distance of 312 yards.
It's pretty hard to find any concerning weaknesses in Scheffler's game right now, and given his success through six months of 2022, he should arrive in Brookline with loads of confidence.
Let's not forget he has finished T-8th or better in four consecutive majors dating back to last year.
Jon Rahm (+1400)
Rahm has enjoyed plenty of success at the U.S. Open in recent years, including a first-place finish in 2021 for his first major championship, as well as a T-3rd finish in 2019. If he wins at The Country Club, Rahm will become the eighth golfer in the history of the U.S. Open to defend his crown.
He's earned four top-10 finishes in 2022, including a victory at the Mexico Open in early May.
Rahm is absolutely crushing the ball off the tee this season, ranking fifth on the PGA Tour with an average driving distance of 318.4 yards. He also leads the Tour with a 72.34 GIR through 828 holes -- that's the kind of accuracy required to win at what promises to be an unforgiving course in Brookline this week.
Will Zalatoris (+2500)
Zalatoris has enjoyed a rollercoaster last two months.
Over his last six tournaments, he has missed the cut twice and finished top 10 in the other four events, including a runner-up finish (via playoff) at the PGA Championship last month. He also finished T-6th at the Masters in April. Overall, the 25-year-old has six top 10 finishes in 2022.
Zalatoris has played quite well in major championships of late, finishing T-8th or better in five of his last seven such tournaments. The only player with more birdies than Zalatoris (36) in majors this year is Cameron Smith (37).
The former Wake Forest star ranks fifth on the PGA Tour with a GIR of 70.09 percent, while also ranking 15th with an average driving distance of 312.3 yards.
Zalatoris has come really close to breaking through at major tournaments over the last two years. Don't be surprised if his moment of triumph comes at The Country Club.
Cameron Smith (+2200)
Smith is among the golfers with zero major championship triumphs who could finally break through this weekend. The 28-year-old has five top 10 finishes in majors in his career, including a T-3rd showing at The Masters in April. He also finished T-13th at the PGA Championship in May.
Smith has two wins this season -- at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in January and The Players Championship in March. He has four top 10 finishes in total.
Smith also has been among the more consistent golfers in 2022, leading the PGA Tour with a 69.253 scoring average.
He's also posted a solid 68.1 GIR and is averaging 299 yards off the tee, which isn't a surprise because he has an absolutely gorgeous swing. Smith's combination of accuracy off the tee, the ability to hit greens consistently and the fourth-best highest one-putt percentage (45.28) on the PGA Tour make him a strong candidate to be near the top of the U.S. Open leaderboard come Sunday afternoon.