Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:58 AM

Best Bets - British Open

PGA Tour Betting Preview
British Open
Royal Portrush Golf Club – Par 72 – 7,337 yards

The final Major of the revamped PGA schedule has all but arrived, and golf fans over in Ireland are thrilled that they get to host a Major tournament for the first time since 1951. Local favorite Rory McIlroy (+800) enters this tournament as the favorite from the oddsmakers perspective as well, but it's hard not to question if all the pressure of being the defacto host of this tournament and being the odds on favorite to win ends up catching up to Rory throughout the week.

In fact, odds on Make/Miss cut aren't released yet, but given the pressure and expectations that have been thrust upon Rory for the event, taking him to miss the cut may actually be the bet that's got a better chance to win as opposed to backing him to win the event. That's a topic for discussion later in the week though when more prop odds for the event get released.

Behind Rory atop the odds list is the usual cast of characters, as Brooks Koepka (+1000), Dustin Johnson (+1600), Jon Rahm (+1600), and Tiger Woods (+1600) round out the names that sit below the 20-1 threshold of guys at the top. Tiger and Brooks have already claimed Major titles this year, and while that definitely shouldn't discount them from claiming another Major title this year, there are plenty of concerns regarding Tiger's current form given he's been away from competitive golf for a month, and “Major-killer” Koepka hasn't been great since his emotionally draining attempt at a three-peat in the US Open. At these pre-tournament odds, it's tough to back either of them.

After that group of golfers, we've got Justin Rose (+2000), defending champion Francesco Molinari (+2500), Xander Schauffele (+2500), and Tommy Fleetwood (+2800) as the next group below the 30-1 price tag, and this may be where many start their pre-tournament handicapping process. The Open does have a history of repeat champions given that there have been four cases of the reigning champion repeating since Lee Trevino did it in 1971-72, and two of them Tiger Woods (2005-06) and Padraig Harrington (2007-08) have accomplished the feat this century. That's good news for Molinari, but his recent form this year hasn't exactly been there either.

Rose and Schauffele shared runner-up finishes at The Open last year, and no runner-up from one year has gone on to win The Open the following year since Jack Nicklaus won it in 1978 after finishing 2nd in 1977 (and 1976 actually). Historically, that makes it tough to back either guy this year, even if they've both got the skill sets to be a factor for this Major title once again.

Speaking of historical angles, five of the last nine Open winners actually missed the cut in this tournament the year prior, and of the names already listed, that brings Dustin Johnson (+1600) and Jon Rahm (+1600) back on the radar. The Open is always a tournament that tends to favor older (30+) guys though which does hurt Rahm's prospects, but if the wind doesn't blow – wind is Royal Portrush's biggest hazard – Rahm could end up being one of many in this field to overpower this Par 72 track.

Like other British Open tracks, avoiding the tall grass and fescue is always indicative of success, and depending on the wind over the course of the four days, that 7,300 yards could play much shorter – or longer – than that yardage suggests. That again speaks to the experience factor of older Tour pros ultimately coming out on top at this Major tournament, with the average age of British Open winners this decade being 35.2 years of age.

With that in mind, and guys who have had success in windy conditions elsewhere as pros as another backdrop to consider – current forecasts for the tournament project plenty of wind and rain for the event – it's these three names that I've settled on for pre-tournament investments for the final Major of 2019.

Golfers to Watch

Jason Day (+4000) – Day is a guy who's made no secret that his current goals in the game revolve around reclaiming that #1 world ranking and winning more tournaments overall. Accomplishing the latter helps the former, and with his caddie switch to Steve Williams – Tiger's old caddie during his heyday – that desire and no-nonsense attitude Williams brings has helped Day already in their short time together.

That type of intensity can be draining though and after a 66th finish for Day in his last outing at the 3M Open, taking two weeks off before this final Major should serve Day well. He had been on a run of five Top 25's (two Top 10's) and two MC's starting with the Masters prior to that, so it's not like the form is something that's wavered. He's always liked playing British Opens with eight straight made cuts here since 2010 – he did not play in 2012 – and with finishes of 17th, 27th, 22nd, and 4th at The Open the past four years, Day's got to feel like if he can just get over that final hump, he could end up lifting the Claret Jug one Sunday evening. The switch to Williams as the man on the bag can hopefully help him achieve that.

But as a young Aussie golfer growing up, playing in windy conditions is nothing new for Day and for a course that's essentially a new track in the rota for this Major, those wind skills could end up being the difference with everyone playing from similar ground in terms of notes/preparation/experience at Royal Portrush. A second career Major title would clearly help Day with his longterm goals and place in the game of golf, and as a guy approaching 32 years old later this year, there are no concerns in terms of historical trend support either.

Williams and Day both know that this partnership was brought about to add more victories to Day's resume – specifically Majors – and as the last opportunity to do so in 2019, I expect we see both guys in that partnership push each other to be at their best over the course of the week.

Marc Leishman (+6600) – another Aussie golfer who's known to have success in windy conditions, and one like Day who needed to recharge mentally after some solid finishes (5th, 35th, 21st) in his last three starts started to get more laboring.

Leishman's driving accuracy (60.3%) is a minor concern coming into the week as you need to keep the ball in the short grass to find success at any Open Championship, but his numbers pretty much across the board everywhere else are solid and are conducive to potential success at a track like this. Ranking 23rd in Strokes Gained: Approach this year on Tour is where we could see Leishman separate himself from the pack in this event if he can get putts to drop, and the more wind the course sees, the stronger Leishman tends to be relative to any field.

Half of the past 10 Open winners have claimed their first (and up to this point, their only) Major title at The Open Championship, and if Leishman is going to add his name to that list of Major winners, golf bettors who've followed the bulk of his career would likely suggest his best shot of any of the four would be at a British Open. He's got three Top 6 finishes at this tournament in the past five years, and at 66-1, the price is definitely there for Leishman to garner some support. Even if the wind is non-existent, he can go low with the best of them if need be.

Sergio Garcia (+6600) – Garcia is a name that recent form proponents will completely ignore, as he's been far from his best self on the golf course for most of his starts since winning the 2017 Masters. His run of missed cuts at Majors since that 2017 Masters win did end at the US Open last month, and while he's still been battling missed cuts on the whole – three of them in his last six starts – he's also got finishes of 4th and 7th sprinkled in there as well. When he's on, he's on, and as a forgotten big name who fits the bill of a potential winner having missed the cut at The Open a year go, this price is tough to ignore.

Furthermore, when you speak of some of the purest ball strikers in today's game that can expertly navigate their way through windy/rainy/tough conditions, Garcia's name has to be mentioned regardless of recent overall form. The British Open was long thought to be the place Garcia would claim his first Major title, as he's had runner-up finishes at this event in 2014 and 2007. Garcia has also had four other Top 15 finishes at Open Championships this decade alone, and for someone who at 39 years old is looking to add another Major trophy to his resume and legacy like Jason Day is, claiming an Open Championship would be quite the feather in the cap for Sergio.

Again, his lack of success in Majors the past year-and-a-half is going to be a sticking point for some, but to get one of the best overall ball strikers in the world at these odds could end up feeling like stealing should he have a shot on Sunday afternoon.

British Open Odds
Brooks KOEPKA 8/1
Rory McILROY 8/1
Dustin JOHNSON 12/1
Jon RAHM 14/1
Tiger WOODS 16/1
Justin ROSE 20/1
Francesco MOLINARI 20/1
Rickie FOWLER 25/1
Xander SCHAUFFELE 25/1
Patrick CANTLAY 25/1
Tommy FLEETWOOD 25/1
Jordan SPIETH 30/1
Justin THOMAS 30/1
Adam SCOTT 30/1
Bryson DeCHAMBEAU 30/1
Jason DAY 40/1
Matt KUCHAR 40/1
Hideki MATSUYAMA 40/1
Henrik STENSON 50/1
Graeme McDOWELL 50/1
Paul CASEY 50/1
Gary WOODLAND 50/1
Matt WALLACE 50/1
Tony FINAU 60/1
Sergio GARCIA 60/1
Marc LEISHMAN 60/1
Patrick REED 60/1
Shane LOWRY 60/1
Ian POULTER 80/1
Webb SIMPSON 80/1
Matthew FITZPATRICK 80/1
Tyrrell HATTON 100/1
Danny WILLETT 100/1
Eddie PEPPERELL 100/1
Kevin KISNER 125/1
Lee WESTWOOD 125/1
Brandt SNEDEKER 125/1
Chez REAVIE 125/1
Zach JOHNSON 150/1
Bubba WATSON 150/1
Branden GRACE 150/1
Haotong LI 150/1
Alex NOREN 150/1
Russell KNOX 150/1
Sungjae IM 150/1
Thorbjorn OLESEN 150/1
Bernd WIESBERGER 150/1
Keegan BRADLEY 150/1
Abraham ANCER 150/1
Thomas PIETERS 200/1
Jim FURYK 200/1
Cameron SMITH 200/1
Aaron WISE 200/1
Byeong Hun AN 200/1
Billy HORSCHEL 200/1
Emiliano GRILLO 200/1
Padraig HARRINGTON 200/1
Erik VAN ROOYEN 200/1
Charles HOWELL III 200/1
Adam HADWIN 200/1
Scott PIERCY 200/1
Kevin NA 250/1
Charley HOFFMAN 250/1
Si Woo KIM 250/1
Ryan MOORE 250/1
Jorge CAMPILLO 250/1
Andy SULLIVAN 250/1
Lucas GLOVER 250/1
Jason KOKRAK 300/1
Tom LEWIS 300/1
Kiradech APHIBARNRAT 300/1
Sung KANG 300/1
Luke LIST 300/1
Justin HARDING 300/1
Keith MITCHELL 300/1
Jimmy WALKER 300/1
Ryan FOX 300/1
C.T. PAN 300/1
Kyle STANLEY 300/1
J.B. HOLMES 300/1
Andrew PUTNAM 300/1
Romain LANGASQUE 300/1
Joost LUITEN 300/1
Adrian OTAEGUI 300/1
Alexander BJORK 300/1
Oliver WILSON 300/1
Robert ROCK 300/1
Paul WARING 300/1
Robert MACINTYRE 300/1
Ryan PALMER 300/1
Adri ARNAUS 300/1
Nate LASHLEY 300/1
Richard STERNE 500/1
Shubhankar SHARMA 500/1
Chris WOOD 500/1
Ernie ELS 500/1
Alexander LEVY 500/1
Shugo IMAHIRA 500/1
Stewart CINK 500/1
Miguel Angel JIMENEZ 500/1
Brandon STONE 500/1
Zander LOMBARD 500/1
Patton KIZZIRE 500/1
David LIPSKY 500/1
Kurt KITAYAMA 500/1
Corey CONNERS 500/1
Joel DAHMEN 500/1
Doc REDMAN 500/1
Callum SHINKWIN 500/1
Chan KIM 1000/1
Darren CLARKE 1000/1
Dimitrios PAPADATOS 1000/1
Yuta IKEDA 1000/1
Shaun NORRIS 1000/1
Sang-Hyun PARK 1000/1
Takumi KANAYA 1000/1
Jake McLEOD 1000/1
Prom MEESAWAT 1000/1
Yoshinori FUJIMOTO 1000/1
Yuki INAMORI 1000/1
Tom LEHMAN 1000/1
Austin CONNELLY 1000/1
Brandon WU 1000/1
Connor SYME 1000/1
James SUGRUE 1000/1
Matthew BALDWIN 1000/1
Yosuke ASAJI 2000/1
Paul LAWRIE 2000/1
Doyeob MUN 2000/1
Gunn CHAROENKUL 2000/1
Innchoon HWANG 2000/1
Dongkyu JANG 2000/1
Mikumu HORIKAWA 2000/1
Matthias SCHMID 2000/1
Christiaan BEZUIDENHOUT 2000/1
Andrew WILSON 2000/1
Thomas THURLOWAY 2000/1
Ashton TURNER 2000/1
Garrick PORTEOUS 2000/1
Jack SENIOR 2000/1
Sam LOCKE 2000/1
Curtis KNIPES 2000/1
Todd HAMILTON 3000/1
David DUVAL 3000/1
Isidro BENITEZ 3000/1

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