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British Open Picks, Predictions | British Open Best Bets

 


July 12, 2021

Golf Expert
VegasInsider.com

2021 British Open Odds, Picks & Predictions

The final Major of the season happens this year, as it's back to links golf for the best players in the world. An opportunity at the Claret Jug is always going to be special for those in the field, and with the rotation landing on Royal St. George's Golf Club as the host, we could see an interesting leaderboard by week's end.

After a 30-plus year absence from hosting The Open Championship (between the 1949 Open and 1981 Open) that missed the best years of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and many others of that generation, when this venue shows up as an Open host, the winners aren't always who you may think.

The 1981 Open Championship here was won by Bill Rogers, a month after he finished T2 at the US Open at Merion. He won two more times on Tour that year in what was one of the best seasons of his career, but there weren't any other Major wins.

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2021 British Open Best Bets

Sandy Lyle won at Royal St. George's in 1985, as did Greg Norman (1993), Ben Curtis (2001), and Darren Clarke (2011) in modern years. Only Norman and Lyle managed to win any other Major in their careers, each peaking at two, although Norman's always an interesting case when bringing up potential Major wins.

But considering all the great names that have named “the champion golfer of the year” throughout the history of this event, chances are any of them that have played from the 1950's on haven't won here.

Royal St. George's can be a quirky course with the lies guys are going to get all over the golf course being up for grabs at times. Of those five recent Open Championship winners at Royal St.George's, Norman was the only guy who finished better than -5 for the week (Norman won at -13).

Expecting a single-digit winning score brings all sorts of names into play this week, and the idea of thinking about guys who may fit a similar career arc to many of the names of those past winners here did factor into the approach. There are plenty of guys out on Tour now that could fit the career resume of one Major title in an above average career like the Clarke's or Rodgers of that list, and Lyle's victory here was the first of his two Major titles. Steady guys where one, possibly two Major titles is where the resume stands at the end.

That's the profile of an Open Champion at Royal St. George's, and a year with the travelling arrangements being what they are, maybe expecting a chaotic weekend leaderboard this week is what we should expect.

2021 British Open Schedule

There aren't going to be too many flat lies regardless of how good a tee shot may be here, as sight lines all over the course can be a challenging task in itself. Pot bunkers are once again the usual defense that will likely see the most action, but windy English weather plays its part in seeing so many single digit scores under par for the winner.

Guys are going to get their shots blown in places where they never want to miss, and the bump and run game with the large surrounds these greens will have means you'd better be able to scramble and save some pars here to have a chance. Guys had better be able to find it early here as well, as Rogers, Lyle, and Clarke all held at least a share of the lead after the 2nd round, and Norman and Curtis were no further back than T4 at the same time. That's something to keep in mind for added action heading into the weekend.

Bunkers, wind, and some chip shots that cause quite a few headaches are going to give the players in this field all they'd prefer to deal with in this final Major to begin with.

When Royal St. George's hosted in 2003 and 2011, those were both Major seasons that saw four first time Major champions, and while Phil Mickelson's PGA Championship win earlier this year took that off the table for this year's edition of The Open at Royal St. George's, I do believe there is a lot that sets up well for another first time Major champion to be crowned this week.


Royal St. George's Golf Club is no stranger to hosting the Open Championship, doing so recently in 2003 and 2011. (AP)

2021 British Open - Betting Odds

Jon Rahm (+750) isn't on that list of potential first time Major winners after his victory at the US Open last month, and even after a strong showing at the Scottish Open this past week, I don't see getting behind him at that price as an option. Not in a Major where a lot can rely on the simple bounce of the ball in this Major specifically.

With the names of past winners here already suggesting to start looking a little bit down the board, that's a steep price to pay for Rahm, even if there aren't any knocks in his game right now. He's playing tremendous golf and shows no signs of slowing down.

Past leaderboards at Royal St. George's have been more about jockeying for position than running away from the pack, and if it plays out where many names are involved on the weekend, even if Rahm's part of that list his price isn't going to be drastically different than this is already. I'm going to wait and see if he's even part of that conversation before considering getting involved.

  • Jon Rahm +750
  • Brooks Koepka +1600
  • Rory McIlroy +1600
  • Xander Schauffele +1800
  • Justin Thomas +1800
  • Jordan Spieth +1800
  • Dustin Johnson +2000
  • Bryson DeChambeau +2000
  • Louis Oosthuizen +2000
  • More Golfers
  • (Odds Subject to Change)

Prices on Rory McIlroy (+1600), Brooks Koekpa (+1600), Xander Schauffele (+1800), Jordan Spieth (+1800), Justin Thomas (+1800), Dustin Johnson (+2000), Bryson DeChambeau (+2000) and Louis Oosthuizen (+2000) are the ones that follow Rahm.

Xander Schauffele is the only name on that list without a Major victory yet in his career, but he does have a runner-up finish at the 2018 Open Championship under his belt, and four of his past five starts overall have been Top 15 finishes.

Schauffele is definitely the name in that group of “favorites” that I got stuck on the most in preparing for the week, as I do think there is a lot lined up that does favor a first time Major winner happening again this week. But Schauffele's also a guy I believe that will find a way to get a few if he ever finds a way to get the first one.

And as part of a broader strategy to start further down the betting board given the history of Open winners at Royal St. George's, it was ultimately a pass on Xander as it was for the rest of those big names. It would not be surprising to see a good chunk of those bigger names to ultimately miss the cut too, so I'll wait to see which ones end up establishing themselves this week and then decide if it's worth jumping on.

It's an event known to have some wild variance in results, and being played at a venue that's brought many unexpected results in the past. Even if one of those favorites run away with it from start to finish, from a tournament/venue standpoint, playing any of the favorites is tough. With seven of the past nine Open winners also being 30-plus years of age, some of those younger favorites could already be working uphill.

So the search for the ideal player this week had ingredients like in their 30's and looking for their first Major win, good numbers around the greens, some strong finishes in past Opens or windy conditions, and someone who I can look back on in 10+ years and say to myself “you know what, they deserved to have that one (or two) Major victories on their resume” when all is said and done.

After all, that's been the type of past champions Royal St. George's has churned out in recent Open's held at this venue.

Golfers to Watch - 2021 British Open
Top Picks and Predictions

Mid-Range Value Best Bets - The British Open

  • Tommy Fleetwood +4000
  • Webb Simpson +5000
  • Cameron Smith +5000

I'll start with Cameron Smith, as he's the only player on the card this week that's yet to be 30 years of age. The other knock involving his game has to do with driving accuracy (58.87%), but the wide open fairways that most Open Championships bring does help mitigate that concern.

Smith is one of the best putters in the field though this year (SG: Putting ranks 16th), and a 50th ranking in SG: Around-the-Green brings enough confidence that he'll be able to get those up-and-downs for par when he needs them. Windy conditions aren't going to phase Smith should they come into play, and after two missed cuts and a T30 in his last three starts after a phenomenal stretch in April that saw Smith finish 10th, 9th, and 1st in a three-week span, it feels like a price drop on Smith that's worth taking a piece of this week.

Webb Simpson is one of two selections that would fall in the Lyle/Norman category of having another Major title aside from a win at Royal St.George's, but it's a similar combination in skill set to Smith that puts Webb on the card this week.

Simpson ranks 12th in SG: Around-the-green and 21st in SG: Putting on Tour this year and that's a skill set I believe makes a lot of sense to lean on this week. Saving those critical strokes around and on the greens is going to likely be what it takes at Royal St. George's, and Webb's going to be one of the better ones in the field in that regard. Throw in five straight Top 40 finishes at The Open Championship the last five seasons, and this may be the year that Simpson's game translates into a victory overseas.

Tommy Fleetwood is a guy I think perfectly fits the idea of being someone who ends his career with a Major win or two when it's all said and done. He's shared in the past his love for The Open Championship and how much it would mean for this to be the Major he wins if he were only able to get one in his career, and on home soil again in England shouldn't hurt.

Three straight Top 30 finishes at Open Championships for Fleetwood suggest that he's always looking to peak for this week every season, and while he wasn't all that close, it was a runner-up finish back in 2019 when the Open Championship was in Ireland. The last Open Championship that was in England was back in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, and Fleetwood was a local fan favorite there having grown up in the area.

There isn't that type of hometown pressure/expectation on him this year, but that passion to be at his best at the Open Championship is still something I expect to see from Fleetwood this week.

Royal Birkdale might have been in his back yard back in 2017, but Fleetwood's game should hold up well at Royal St. George's as well.

He's 5th in SG: Around-the-green on the PGA Tour this year, and while nothing else looks spectacular statistically this year for him, he's shown for numerous years in the past that his numbers off-the-tee and with the putter can be drastically better than they are now. If he gets that putter rolling hot early, then we've got a third straight selection that should be able to pick up strokes on the majority in the field on and/or around the greens. Sometimes that's all you can ask for and you let the chips fall where they may after that in an Open Championship.

Long Shot Best Bets- The British Open

  • Jason Day (+8000)
  • Kevin Kisner (+8000)

Jason Day is another guy who would have second major victory should he win this week, and given the time he spent ranked No. 1 in the world during his career and having finishes of T4 or better in all four Majors in his career, the Norman arc of Day being a guy that gets a couple of Major wins but could have had a couple more fits better than just the simple Aussie connection.

Day is also the fourth guy on the card who excels around the green this year (SG: ARG ranking 22nd), and his putting ranking of 91st is something that's easy to believe will get better.

He quietly put together finishes of 14th and 10th in his last two starts on the strength of weeks of +0.83 and +1.02 True Strokes Gained: Putting average in those starts. Day still has some kinks in the approach game to work out, but when par is going to be a good score, Day's scrambling skills should be able to keep him in touch.

Kevin Kisner's another guy who's quietly put together a couple of strong finishes of late, grabbing an 8th and 5th in his last two starts on some very strong putting numbers, and some improved numbers around the greens. His lack of length isn't going to price him out of most Open Championships, and with his best Major finish at any of the four being a T2nd in 2018, if the 37-year old is going to get a Major championship in his career, it being an Open Championship (or a Masters) would be the more likely I think.

Putting numbers are the only thing that have held up for Kisner this entire year which isn't going to be the worst thing in the world to rely on at Royal St. George's, and if he can continue to improve elsewhere and keep these quality finishes going, maybe he's the next name that gets added to the list of Open winners at this golf course.

British Open Betting Results 2016-2019 (Odds)

  • 2019 - Shane Lowry (65/1)
  • 2018 - Francesco Molinari (25/1)
  • 2017 - Jordan Spieth (12/1)
  • 2016 - Henrik Stenson (30/1)
  • 2015 - Zach Johnson (80/1)

Shane Lowry will be this year's British Open defending champion after capturing the Claret Jug at Royal Portrush Golf Club in 2019. (AP)

How to Bet on Golf

Golf betting has gained much more exposure and interest in the past few years, and with plenty of plus-money prices littered throughout the various forms of golf wagers, the chance for bigger scores is part of the reason behind that increased popularity.

2021 Golf Betting Schedule

Sportsbooks ensure that there are no shortage of wagering options on golf tournaments every week, and it isn't all about picking the winner. Grabbing the outright winner of a golf tournament is the best way to get that 'big score' but it's also the hardest wager to cash. After all, a typical professional golf tournament has a field of 140+ different players to consider.

Understanding Golf Odds and Bets

Most golf odds are listed in the fractional format – 10/1 on Dustin Johnson for example – and in that particular case you would multiply the amount bet by that first number to project your winnings. So a $100 bet on DJ to win that particular event would win you $1000.

If you are more comfortable with the American version of odds listings that you typically see across the other major North American sports – ie +1000 – these numbers are easily convertible. Online and app based books may already have that option built in, but the easiest way to do it yourself is to add two zeros to the first number in the fraction. So a 10/1 price on DJ converts to +1000 in that format.



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