US Open Golf Tournament 2021: Top Odds, Predictions and Storylines for Thursday
Jordan Spieth's hunt for his first major title since 2017 has come into focus over the last few months.
The three-time major winner entered the first two Grand Slam tournaments in form, and he landed a tie for third at the Masters.
Spieth is not viewed as a favorite to capture the 2021 U.S. Open title, but he could put himself in position to contend on the weekend.
Spieth is in an ideal threesome to start off his tournament at Torrey Pines. He will be alongside Will Zalatoris and Scottie Scheffler.
Some of the top contenders will play with each other for the first and second rounds. Pre-tournament favorite Jon Rahm is playing with Patrick Reed and Marc Leishman, while reigning champion Bryson DeChambeau was grouped with Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama and U.S. amateur winner Tyler Strafaci.
US Open Odds
Jon Rahm (+1050; bet $100 to win $1,050)
Bryson DeChambeau (+1500)
Dustin Johnson (+1500)
Xander Schauffele (+1500)
Brooks Koepka (+1800)
Jordan Spieth (+1900)
Rory McIlroy (+2100)
Patrick Cantlay (+2200)
Tony Finau (+2200)
Justin Thomas (+2250)
Collin Morikawa (+2250)
Viktor Hovland (+2500)
Patrick Reed (+2500)
Storylines to Watch
Bryson DeChambeau's Title Defense
DeChambeau has not been in the best form since capturing his first major title at Winged Foot Golf Club.
The American finished outside the top 30 at both of the season's majors, and he has a single top-10 finish in his last six PGA Tour appearances.
DeChambeau turned in three rounds of 75 or worse at Augusta and failed to go under 71 at the PGA Championship.
In the last three years, DeChambeau has as many top-10 finishes as he does missed cuts over nine major appearances.
DeChambeau missed the cut at both of his Farmers Insurance Open appearances at Torrey Pines, so a repeat does not look promising.
If he does turn his form around, it would be a nice achievement for the 27-year-old who has been talked about for his off-the-course beef with Brooks Koepka more than his on-course play of late.
Can Jon Rahm Live Up To Favorite Status?
Rahm is more than deserving of his favorite status.
The Spaniard has six top-10 placings in 2021 and two of them came at the first two majors.
Rahm would likely have come into Torrey Pines with a win at the Memorial, but he was forced to withdraw due to a positive COVID-19 test.
As the most in-form player in the field, Rahm should be in the mix for his first major crown.
Rahm will be one of the final players to hit the course on Thursday. He, Leishman and Reed go off at 4:36 p.m. ET.
By then, Rahm should have an idea of what he needs to shoot to boost himself on to the front page of the leaderboard.
First-Round Leader Comes From Spieth Group
Spieth, Scheffler and Zalatoris have an extra edge in the first and second rounds since they are used to playing with each other and should not feel too much stress.
The all-Texas threesome should ease into the tournament and they all have the potential to sit atop the leaderboard after Thursday.
Spieth has carded a pair of first-round 63s in two of his last four starts, and he has a quartet of top-10 finishes in four of his last five tournaments.
Scheffler started his run to a third-place finish at the Memorial with a first-round 67, and he has six opening cards in the 60s on the PGA Tour this season.
Zalatoris, who was the surprise second-place finisher at the Masters, has produced 11 rounds of 71 or better over his last three appearances.
If the trio uses that recent form, we should see at least one of them on top after the first 18 holes.
Brooks Koepka Starts Strong
Koepka has produced three top-two finishes since February. He carded a low early round in each of those tournaments.
The four-time major winner opened his Waste Management Open victory with a 68, started his second-place run at the PGA Championship with a 69 and he put up a 67 on the way to second at the WGC Workday Championships.
Koepka has an opportunity to post a low score early in Thursday's round, as he starts in the fifth group off the 10th tee.
The American does not have a great record at Torrey Pines, but he did open the 2015 Farmers Insurance Open with a 66. That was the only one of his three appearances at that event in which he made the cut.
If the Koepka we saw at Kiawah Island appears at Torrey Pines, he should be in the mix over 72 holes.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.
Statistics obtained from PGATour.com.
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