The Open Championship – a.k.a. the British Open – gets underway at St. Andrews on Thursday and, for bettors, there are several factors to consider and decisions to be made.
The Golden Child:
Now that World No. 1 Rory McIlroy has withdrawn due to injury, Masters and U.S. Open winner Jordan Spieth (6/1) – irritatingly known as the “Golden Child” – is the only golfer with single-digit odds, creating a betting dynamic reminiscent of the Tiger-in-his-prime era. Spieth is young and somewhat inexperienced, but proved he can win playing links golf at Chambers Bay; and there is no question he is the top player in the world at the moment, regardless of what the official rankings say.
Spieth isn’t the only reasonable option out there by any stretch of the imagination. Even without McIlroy, there are plenty of solid Britons in the field. A Brit hasn’t won the Open Championship since Nick Faldo in 1992, but Justin Rose (16/1), Paul Casey (33/1), Luke Donald (80/1), and Ian Poulter (80/1) could all be in contention on Sunday.
We don’t want to take a short price on number one and don’t have confidence that Donald or Poulter will turn around their disappointing seasons. But we do see value with Rose and Casey, along with U.S. Open-runner-up Dustin Johnson and some other midrange favorites.
Let’s take a closer look at our value picks for The Open.
Dustin Johnson (11/1) – He’s made the cut in five straight Opens, finishing among the top-15 four times (including second-place at Royal St. George’s in 2011 and 14th at St. Andrews in 2010). Johnson already has top-ten finishes at the first two majors under his belt this year (second at the U.S. Open and sixth at The Masters). The obvious knock against him is that he always finds a way to lose big tournaments. But that was once the knock against Lefty, too, and he now has he has five major titles to his name.
Johnson’s game – long off the tee – suits St. Andrews, and he is playing very well this year other than his U.S. Open collapse. It’s only a matter of time before he figures out how to win the big one.
Rickie Fowler (16/1) – After coming 12th at the Masters this year, Fowler failed to make the cut at Chambers Bay. But that was an anomaly for Fowler of late. He finished in the top-ten at all four majors last season, including a second-place at Royal Liverpool. He also finished 14th at the Old Course back in 2010. Last week, Fowler played the final four holes of the Scottish Open at three under, birdieing the 18th to win by one shot.
Justin Rose (18/1) – The 2013 U.S. Open champ has never had much luck at the Open Championship. Rose’s best finish was 12th in 2007 and he’s missed the cut three of the last five years, including at St. Andrews in 2010. He is a former winner of the St. Andrews Links Trophy as an amateur, though, so he clearly has the capacity to play well on the course.
Adam Scott (20/1) – Scott broke through with a Masters win in 2013 and has been knocking on the door at the Open Championship for years. He’s finished top-five each of the last three years and has made the cut twice at St. Andrews. This season, he finished fourth at the U.S. Open, again displaying his penchant for links-style courses.
Henrik Stenson (20/1) – Stenson is another golfer who’s been painfully close to an Open Championship win for years now. He has three top-three finishes in the last seven years, including a third at St. Andrews in 2010. (He also made the cut at the course back in the ’05 edition.) The Swede has continued his strong majors play the last couple seasons, finishing top-five at two different majors in each of the last two years. He was also second at the Munich Open a couple of weeks ago, indicating that he’s ready to make a run come Thursday.
Paul Casey (33/1) – Casey finished third at the Open Championship at St. Andrews in 2010 and was sixth at this year’s Masters. He made the cut, but didn’t seriously contend, at the U.S. Open this year, and put in a strong second-place showing at the Travelers Championship last month (his sixth top-ten finish of the year).
Matt Kuchar (45/1) – Kuchar was on the business end of Fowler’s strong finish at the Scottish Open last week, coming in second by a stroke. Kuch’s solid play in Scotland was just the latest in a string of steady results; he came 12th at the U.S. Open for a second straight year and has finished in the top-15 at two of the last three Open Championships.
One Last Tip:
Before you pick your horse, recognize that the Old Course could play differently this year with lots of rain making the grass green and fairways slower.
Best of luck out there, bettors!
(Photo Credit: Erik Charlton [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)