The British Open Championship Betting Tips & Predictions
As a testament to how fast time seems to go by these days, we are already at the third golf major of the year, and – let’s be honest – it is the one they all want to win: The Open.
Dating back nearly 150 years, The Open is the grandest tournament of them all, and the only major to be played outside of the USA. That makes it truly special indeed.
This year’s host venue is Royal Troon, located up in the Scottish Highlands of South Ayrshire. It has hosted this event on eight occasions, with winning scores ranging from -1 to -13, which will be tied in mostly with the wind speeds/direction of the weekend. Most notably, the last six winners at Troon have all been American; a coincidence, or a genuine betting angle in?
Happily we’re in a decent vein of form ourselves, and despite our big hope Chris Wood withdrawing from the event last week with a neck injury, our 66/1 pick Tyrell Hatton did us proud; finishing agonisingly short in second by one shot to eventual winner Alex Noren at the Scottish Open. With a tasty each way return secured, congrats/commiserations if you were on with us.
A Quick Guide to Royal Troon
This is your standard Open Championship test, a picture-perfect course that offers a tough assignment to players and keeps scoring opportunities to a minimum.
That said, the average winning score here in the last three renewals has been -11, and if prevailing winds are at the players’ backs then the early par 4s are reachable in a single shot. With a couple of agreeable par 5s available too, eagle/birdie chances here could decide the recipient of the Claret Jug come Sunday evening. As such, being able to go long – and accurately – off the tee will be a huge advantage here.
But it’s not all plain sailing. The middle section of the course is particularly tricky, and the famous Postage Stamp hole will put the bottle of any prospective champion under scrutiny. That is why we always tend to favour proven champions who have coped well with the spotlight, even though this year’s two majors to date have been won by ‘maidens’ in Danny Willett and Dustin Johnson.
Statistically, we haven’t any data to work with since the 2004 Open Championship here, so our scope is limited somewhat. But we know that driving long and accurately will be a factor (Todd Hamilton, ’04 winner, ranked 25th and 10th for Driving Accuracy and Distance), as will Greens in Regulation, as it does for any major. Finally, a hot putter can never hurt under the major spotlight.
Oh Dustin, what a time to be alive. He finally broke his major duck at the US Open in June, and remarkably followed that up with victory at the WGC Bridgestone event a week later. A fine run of form given that most first-time champions endure something of a slump thereafter.
That second win was perhaps more impressive than his US Open success, but it is worth remembering that this is a guy with a stellar Major record. He’s only just turned 32, and yet has twelve top-10 finishes in the big ones to his name, which includes six top-5s. His Open record specifically is decent, reading 14-2-9-32-12-49 in the last six years, and he meets the criteria that has emerged in recent times of prospective Open winners at Royal Troon; namely, he’s American (all six of the former champions on this stretch have been Yanks), and he has a prior top-five finish to his name in this event. That bodes well.
Yes, it will be extremely difficult to win back-to-back majors, but DJ is the best player on the planet right now and has now well and truly broken his big event hoodoo. And you always want a guy like that onside, don’t you?
With five top-10 finishes in his last six major outings, Johnson is the smartest investment you will make in The Open 2016.
Henrik Stenson (28/1 e/w)
Generally, the big Swede isn’t someone we enjoy backing – his win ratio is so low for somebody of his ability, but there have been enough points of interest in the past few weeks to suggests that Stenson’s time as a major winner may finally be upon us after seven career top-5 finishes in the biggies.
For instance, he won the BMW International Open just a fortnight ago, the tenth European Tour triumph of his career. That put to bed worries about a knee injury that forced him to retire from the US Open despite a first round of 69. So now his form string reads 28-24-4-WD-1-13….very handy stuff.
That 13th came at last week’s Scottish Open, and while that is impressive enough it would have surely been even better but for a late start time for his first round on Thursday, when winds had reached in excess of 30mph. His round of 76 in near unplayable conditions was exceptional, and if he had shot, say, par there then he would have finished tied for third.
The great news is that Stenson is hitting the ball arrow straight at the moment (ranking 17th for GIR and 1st for Driving Accuracy in Scotland) and giving it a decent enough bump off the peg – averaging 281 yards with his drives there – to trouble the shorter par 4s and the par 5s at Troon this week.
Questions of bottle remain, but hey, if Dustin Johnson – one of those whose grapefruits have been queried in the past – can win a major then why not Stenson?
Zach Johnson (55/1 e/w)
It’s always nice to have a two-time Major winner onside in events like this; especially one that has found form at just the right time. At 66/1, it was impossible not to give ZJ a go this week.
Johnson is the defending champion here after triumphing last year at a similarly gusty St Andrews, and few players on the planet offer as much value in terms of their all-round game. He may not be the longest off the tee, but as an Open champion and 14-time PGA Tour winner, Johnson has a way of working around his shortcomings.
He hasn’t missed an Open cut since 2006, and in his last five attempts has finished outside the top-20 just once, including three top-10s. He isn’t a fashionable player, hence his inflated price here, but we have no qualms about getting involved; particularly as in his last two starts he has finished 8th (US Open) and 10th (WGC Bridgestone).
In sport timing is everything, and Johnson is getting hot at just the right time.
Patrick Reed (60/1 e/w)
It was impossible to call between these two for our last pick as they are so similar both in golfing terms and personality: brash, self-confident and with that bit of ‘edge’ that should stand them in good stead when vying for a major. Whether you want to back one or both of these selections is your prerogative, and in truth we can happily make a case for either.
As discussed, form in the Scottish Open has been a fantastic precursor to Open success in recent times, and indeed five of the last six winners of the Claret Jug had played in Scotland a week prior to their triumph. Both Reed and Sullivan took the trip to Castle Stuart last week, and both came out with flying colours: Reed finished tenth, ranking sixth for Putts per Round, third for Driving Distance and thirteenth for GIR, while Sullivan was just outside the money places in sixth. The Englishman was good all-round and scrambled exceptionally well, so must come into consideration.
We know that previous Links form manifests itself well in Open contenders, and so to know that Reed has two top-20 finishes in past 12 months in relevant fields (20th at The Open in 2015, 14th at the treacherous US Open a few weeks prior to that) highlights his abilities in these conditions.
And only four of the last fifteen Open winners had gone a year or more without winning a tournament on either the PGA or European Tour. You may recall Sullivan’s victory at the Portugal Masters in October, the third trophy of his career. He has improved since then, and incredibly has finished in the top 25 of six of his last seven starts worldwide, including a respectable 23rd in the US Open.