On Thursday, British Golf’s Blue Riband event tees off at Royal Liverpool. It is the first time The Open has visited the challenging course since 2006 when Tiger Woods blew away his rivals on his way to winning his eleventh Major title. With Woods not at his best this year’s tournament is wide open. As with most links courses, accuracy will be of paramount importance. It’s not really a course for the big hitters, so players with a good short game will be looking to take advantage. Odds from Bovada are provided for US bettors.
Today we will look at who we think stands the best chance of taking home the famous Claret jug as well as some outside bets on players who may not win the title, but stand a good outside chance at big odds.
With The Open only being held once previously at Hoylake, there isn’t a great deal of information available to judge player performance on this particular course. However, by looking at current form and previous performances in links golf it is possible to narrow it down a bit. After winning the Scottish Open last weekend, Justin Rose has been installed as the joint favourite at 16/1 with 888.Sport, Paddy Power and Bet Victor or 14/1 with Bovada.
Having got the Major monkey off his back at last year’s US Open, Rose may be expected to play with a bit less pressure on him. Winners of the Scottish Open tend to perform well in The Open, but Rose hasn’t performed well in previous years at this event. His only top 10 finish was way back in 1998 and he has missed the cut in 3 out of the last 4 years. He is in good form, but at just 15/1, other make more appeal.
Henrik Stenson has enjoyed some great form in recent Majors. Fourth at this year’s US Open, Third in last year’s PGA Championship and second at The Open last year, Stenson shares favouritism with Rose at 16/1 with William Hill, 888Sport, Bet365 and Bovada. The main stumbling block with Stenson is he has never won a Major.
This can be a big mental barrier for a lot of golfers and you would prefer to be on someone who has overcome the pressure when the tournament enters the last day. That said, his form cannot be overlooked and, as Rose showed at the US Open, there has to be a first time for everyone.
Thomas Bjorn has a patchy record in The Open. He famously gave up a two stroke lead with just three holes to play back in 2003 and has only managed a best position of fourth since then. However, he did manage a strong showing in this years Masters when he finished in eighth position. He had a decent performance at the Scottish Open last weekend and could have been a contender if not for a bad second day.
He rallied after that though and showed the kind of short game needed for Royal Liverpool. At 66/1 with Paddy Power he is an outstanding each way bet. Paddy Power are also offering each way on the first seven places and at quarter of the odds. He is 50/1 with Bovada.
Paul Casey is another with good claims. He finished in fourteenth position at -7 at the Scottish finishing with an excellent 6 under par on the final day. He too is a good each way bet at 66/1 with Stan James or 50/1 with Bovada. He is also a very tempting 50/1 with Coral, William Hill, Bet365 and Bovada to be leading after the first round.
As I said earlier, accuracy is the key to winning on a links course. If you are looking at guys who can hit the ball as straight as an arrow with an excellent short game then two names to consider are Graeme McDowell and Marc Warren. Some of Warren’s iron shots at the Scottish Open were a joy to watch. He had a great four days and at 150/1 with Ladbrokes and Bovada he looks to be an outstanding outside bet. Get on him each way. McDowell’s US Open win in 2010 showed that the talented Irishman has the mettle to win a Major.
He had a win on the European Tour just two weeks ago so there can be no question marks over his form either. Interestingly, he took last week off. This was exactly what happened prior to his US Open win. At 40/1 with Coral and 888Sport or 25/1 with Bovada he is definitely worth a bet.
Graeme McDowell to win The Open at 40/1 (Corals),
Paul Casey to be First Round leader at 50/1 with Bet365 and Bovada
Thomas Bjorn each way winner at 66/1 with Paddy Power
Marc Warren to finish in top 20 at 8/1 with Stan James