2021 US Open Power Rankings – 15 Top Contenders at Torrey Pines
The grueling 36-hole sectional qualifiers are behind us. With 155 tickets stamped to Torrey Pines, it’s time to start dissecting the field at the 2021 US Open.
It’s unlikely one of the 66 men who had to endure sectional qualifying ends up in winner’s circle, but that’s not saying much.
Considering the difficulty of the South Course, what is expected is that one of the household names claims the third major of the year. As far as who is in line to be the last man standing, here’s a look at my US Open power rankings.
15 – Tony Finau
- Best US Open Finish: 5th (2018)
Just as we know the sun is going to rise in the east, we can be sure that Tony Finau is going to play well at a tough US Open setup.
5th at Shinnecock Hills in 2018 and 8th last year at Winged Foot confirm that idea, plus Tony’s sporting a stellar record at Torrey Pines.
|Tony Finau – Career Record at the Farmers Insurance Open (Torrey Pines)|
Top-25s in all seven starts including a quartet of top-6 finishes.
Finau’s caught a lot of grief for not winning since 2016, but nine top-10s since the 2020 US Open (in September) hint at a guy who has been steadily knocking on the door. 6th in SG: Tee-to-Green this season.
14 – Dustin Johnson
- Best US Open Finish: Won (2016)
Not all the best golf sportsbooks online have baked Dustin Johnson’s current dip into the pricing. MyBookie still has DJ sitting atop the US Open odds sheet as the Palmetto Championship at Congaree gets underway.
DJ could easily snap out of his slump in Ridgeland and saunter into La Jolla with a full head of steam. He will need to settle on a putter, though, as he’s back to tinkering with multiple flat sticks.
13 – Hideki Matsuyama
- Best US Open Finish: 2nd (2017)
21st or better in four straight US Opens, and that was before Hideki Matsuyama was armed with the confidence gained from winning a major championship.
The 29-year-old hasn’t done much since he slipped on the Green Jacket, but Hideki’s prowess with his irons and proficiency around the greens make him a genuine threat at this golf course.
The potential concerns?
Like Dustin, a sometimes balky putter holds Matsuyama back. That, coupled with the fact that he’s never cracked the top-10 at Torrey keeps Hideki from climbing these power rankings for the US Open.
12 – Patrick Reed
- Best US Open Finish: 4th (2018)
Tiger showed us it’s possible to win at Torrey Pines twice in the same season. Patrick Reed has a shot to repeat that feat thanks to his five-shot romping at the 2021 Farmers Insurance Open.
Last 2 players to win at Torrey Pines by 5+ shots 2008 Tiger Woods Wins by 8 Wins U.S. Open at Torrey later that year 2021 Patrick Reed Wins by 5 U.S. Open at Torrey later this year *ducks*January 31, 2021
Typically, prominent ball-strikers are the guys who figure to come into play at this venue. However, Reed put that theory to bed with an unworldly performance on and around the greens a few months back.
Historically, Patrick has been a tremendous putter on poa annua greens.
11 – Jordan Spieth
- Best US Open Finish: Won (2015)
Jordan has played some marvelous golf this season. He’s hitting the ball much more consistently (21st in SG: Tee-to-Green) and has connected on 12 consecutive cuts upon arrival.
In fact, in that stretch of 12 straight made cuts, Spieth has racked up six top-4 finishes including a victory. Having said that, Jordan’s record at this track is worrisome, to say the least.
In five appearances at the Farmers Insurance Open, Jordan’s gone MC-19th-MC-35th-55th. Now you can see why he skipped this event from 2016-2018.
On top of that, Spieth has been a bit sketchy at this golf tournament since winning in 2015 (37th-35th-MC-65th-MC since).
10 – Will Zalatoris
- Best US Open Finish: 6th (2020)
Since finishing 6th at the 2020 US Open, Will Zalatoris continues to demonstrate that he’s built for the bright lights. The runner-up at the 2021 Masters finished 8th at Kiawah Island – this kid is far removed from the days of being called an “up-and-comer.”
Ranked 3rd on the PGA Tour in SG: Approach, one would assume that the Wake Forest product would be a perfect fit for the layout of the South Course at Torrey Pines.
Those making that assumption are spot-on – Will landed T7 at the 2021 Famers Insurance Open after being the only player in the field to post four red numbers.
9 – Justin Thomas
- Best US Open Finish: 8th (2020)
It seems a bit criminal slotting the 2nd-ranked player in the world in the 9th spot in my US power rankings. Thomas has been among the best iron players on tour for quite some time and is engrained with the pedigree to rise in the clutch.
The fact of the matter is JT just isn’t playing his best golf at the moment. No top 10s since his triumph at THE PLAYERS – nothing better than T40 in his last three starts.
If there is a catch, it’s that BetOnline has dropped Thomas’ odds to win the US Open to +2000. That’s definitely worth a look.
8 – Viktor Hovland
- Best US Open Finish: 12th (2019)
Bryson, Sergio, and Rahm. That’s the entire list of golfers who are gaining more strokes off the tee than Viktor Hovland this season.
After assessing the anticipated setup, it seems inevitable that Viktor will throw his hat in the ring at some point over the weekend.
Of course, he’ll need to halt his streak of losing strokes with his putter that dates back to Saturday at the PGA Championship (six straight rounds).
7 – Collin Morikawa
- Best US Open Finish: 35th (2019)
Talk about drumming up some momentum in the most opportune time, Collin Morikawa’s recent form has him in line to do some serious damage at Torrey Pines.
The California kid finished 8th at the PGA, 14th at the Charles Schwab Challenge, and now he’s coming off a playoff loss at Jack’s Place.
From playing the South Course a handful of times and studying what others say about the layout, I can assure you that hitting precise iron shots will be as important as any other single statistic at the 2021 US Open.
That’s where Morikawa is in a league of his own.
|Top-5 on the PGA Tour in SG: Approach|
|1 – Colling Morikawa||1.455|
|2 – Justin Thomas||.959|
|3 – Will Zalatoris||.923|
|4 – Paul Casey||.845|
|5 – Charley Hoffman||.838|
6 – Xander Schauffele
- Best US Open Finish: 3rd (2019)
Xander’s “no excuses” mentality, combined with his premium ball-striking and exceptional putter – makes him the exact type of golfer you would expect to thrive at a US Open.
If there are any qualms about pulling the trigger on the San Diego native playing in his hometown, the fact that Schauffele is toying with an arm-lock putting method is worth bringing to light.
A top-10 putter on tour (according to SG: Putting) lost strokes to the field putting during two of the four rounds at Muirfield Village.
5 – Brooks Koepka
- Best US Open Finish: Won (2017, 2018)
It’d be foolish to speak about the 2021 US Open contenders and not bring up “Brooksie.” Koepka finished 2nd at the 2019 US Open in his bid for three straight before sitting out of the action at Winged Foot due to a knee injury.
Although he hasn’t played a ton of competitive golf in 2021, a win in Phoenix and a pair of runner-up finishes (WGC at the Concession, PGA Championship) remind us of what this man is capable of.
Brooks sits inside the top-40 in all six of the major SG categories. Make no mistake – he’s a serious force to be reckoned with.
4 – Patrick Cantlay
- Best US Open Finish: 21st (2011, 2009)
Born in Long Beach and educated at UCLA, playing superb golf in Southern California is just another day in the office for Patrick Cantlay.
While it seems like we’re just a few weeks removed from referring to Cantlay being in a slump, here we are today talking about the guy who’s on top of the FedEx Cup standings.
I could go on and on commending Patrick for his all-around game, but a couple of stats jump out when evaluating his chances at Torrey Pines.
- 2nd on the PGA Tour in Scrambling
- 3rd on the PGA Tour in par-4 scoring average
3 – Rory McIlroy
- Best US Open Finish: Won (2011)
He’s been quiet since emerging at Quail Hollow (T49 at the PGA Championship, T18 at the Memorial), but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more sincere US Open contender on the cliffs of La Jolla.
5th-3rd-16th in his only trips to Torrey Pines (2019-2021), McIlroy’s exquisite tee-to-green game should be on full display for the week.
His track record, combined with his ability to launch his irons in the air, are the main reasons I picked Rory to win the 2021 US Open when I made early predictions for the golf majors in 2021.
2 – Bryson DeChambeau
- Best US Open Finish: Won (2020)
Set aside the apparent beef with Brooks Koepka and zero in on Bryson’s ability to dismantle a so-called “brutal US Open setup.” The last time the USGA pinched in fairways, all DeChambeau did was lap the field by a half-dozen.
On the flip side, I can play devil’s advocate and toss out a couple of reasons to fade Bryson at Torrey. All I have to do is point to his shortcomings as of late.
Case in point – DeChambeau hasn’t broken 71 in eight straight rounds. He lost nearly a full shot to the field around the greens the last time out at the Memorial.
1 – Jon Rahm
- Best US Open Finish: 3rd (2019)
It’s the perfect storm for the best player yet to win a major. The winner of the 2017 Farmers Insurance Open finished 5th-2nd-7th in his last three visits to Torrey Pines.
The good vibes don’t end there – the picturesque setting in La Jolla is where Rahm proposed to his now-wife (Kelley). As for Jon’s current form, that’s where things get exciting.
Rahm’s forced withdrawal on Saturday six shots clear at the Memorial would sting a lot of players – look for it to invigorate Jon even more.
US Open Betting in 2021
Any disagreements with these power rankings for the US Open? Among the names who barely missed the cut of being featured on this page.
- Scottie Scheffler
- Louis Oosthuizen
- Jason Kokrak
- Webb Simpson
- Matthew Fitzpatrick
By early next week, my US Open betting preview filled with predictions and my best bets will be available here. Those of you looking for DFS picks for the US Open, be sure to check in with our golf blog early next week as well.
You might also want to read our US Open betting guide.