Open Championship

The week of The Open is possibly the most exciting of the year for golf fans: wall-to-wall coverage of the biggest event in the game. There are so many options and possibilities in the betting markets and it is always an incredibly difficult tournament to call. The weather can play such a crucial part in the eventual outcome. Inevitably the “Big Four” will be much hyped going into the event, but with such low odds they are rarely worth backing. Out of these guys, Dustin Johnson is in the best form and should contend (though the first major hangover could be a factor) and Jason Day is the best equipped to deal with the challenge. Rory hasn’t shown that he can compete in horrible weather and Jordan is struggling with his game.

Open Champions, on the whole, have plenty of experience to draw from – 7 of the last 10 winners aged over 35 and only 3 winners this century had played less than 6 Opens prior to winning – and with a forecast for plenty of wind and rain on Thursday and Friday I think we can safely say that it will be a grind at times.
We’ve definitely gone for experience, both in tough conditions and previous Opens:

Sergio Garcia 28/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential return £370
Sergio has been on our card for The Open since the start of the year and nothing we have seen this season has deterred us. He’s an Open specialist, having recorded 10 top 10’s since the turn of the century, and arguably controls his ball better than anyone in tough conditions. He’s fared well in some dire conditions in the past and showed great form in having a good run in the recent US Open. The big fear is his inability to get across the line when the opportunity arises. We feel convinced that he will do it eventually and The Open certainly offers him the best chance.

Branden Grace 33/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential return £432.50
We were astonished to get such good odds on the South African to be honest. He’s become a big time player in recent years and has the game to win an Open. His controlled ball flight will be a huge asset, and we also think that he may dodge the worst of the weather on Friday with his lunchtime tee-off. The draw could make a few shots difference in the final reckoning.

Henrik Stenson 33/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential return £432.50
The Big Swede was solid but not spectacular last week at Castle Stuart, but having won recently can be considered to be on good form. He has had a few near misses at The Open, and we feel that his accuracy off the tee and laser-like iron play will hold up to the weather. He’s got the experience and certainly seems to take a lot more in his stride these days.

Graeme McDowell 80/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential return £1020
There are few players who can say that they don’t mind playing in bad weather, but G-Mac is certainly one. He continues to show signs of a revival (we’ve backed him a bit of late!) and should certainly relish the test. Now in his 13th Open, he feels comfortable in the surroundings and will be keen to improve on his Open best 5th place finish. Prior to Zach Johnson last year, the previous four champions had prepared the week before at the Scottish Open – McDowell will be looking to join that trend.

Matt Fitzpatrick 90/1 – Stake £5 e/w Potential return £572.50
Came to prominence when he won the Silver Medal at Muirfield in 2013 and though the conditions were very different that week, has displayed plenty of links pedigree. We watched him for a few holes last week and were massively impressed with some of the shots he was hitting, especially with his driver. Though he missed the cut, he was desperately unlucky at times. The extra couple of days practice at Troon will have come in handy. He is on course to become a very big deal in the game and won’t be phased by getting in amongst it. We also like his 3.10 tee time on Friday, very much!

Chris Wood 100/1 – Stake £5 e/w Potential return £635
Almost without anyone noticing, Wood has risen to number 22 in the world rankings. He won the BMW PGA earlier in the season and recorded impressive finishes
soon after, before a 23rd at The US Open. Having come to prominence with a 5th place finish at Birkdale in 2008 as an amateur, he went two better the following year at Turnberry. He is undoubtedly a links expert and despite his massive frame, is incredibly controlled in the wind. He’ll relish this week and can surely never have felt more confident heading into The Open.

There are probably about 15 players that we could make an argument for backing, but we need to put our necks on the line. We certainly had a few thoughts on these two:

Ernie Els 150/1 – back in good form and an expert in The Open. He has recorded 10 top 10 finishes this century (only matched by Sergio) and should have probably won here in 2004.
Lee Westwood 50/1 – he’s playing well and just keeps doing it. Wouldn’t be a great surprise if he were up there again. It’s just the 8.25 tee time on Friday that worries us!

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