The Open 17-20 July ̶ Betting Preview
The 143rd edition of the Open Championship takes place this weekend on the links at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake.
Due to the unique, exacting nature of links golf, half the field ̶ those without the relevant experience ̶ have no chance of winning or even placing.
Conversely, those familiar with the links and particularly those who played a tune-up event at the Royal Aberdeen course last week, have given themselves the perfect preparation.
Tight fairways with unforgiving bunkers and blustery winds make accuracy off the tee essential for contenders, whereas the greens are a little more forgiving with "some flat areas where you can hole putts," according to Graeme MacDowell.
When Tiger Woods won the Open at the same course in 2006, he used his driver once all tournament, favouring the two-iron off the tee.
Justin Rose (14/1 Bwin)
The 2013 US Open winner has won back-to-back tournaments, including the aforementioned Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen. That record and the home support has pushed him to favouritism.
However The Open has proved his weakest major. He has missed the cut three of the last four years and hasn't finished in the top-ten since he was an amateur, 16 years ago.
Rory McIlroy (18/1 StanJames)
The Irish superstar is overpriced because of his name and fame. He hasn't made a top-ten since May and has struggled at previous Opens.
His links form remains inconsistent: at the Scottish Open last week, he followed a course-record 64 with a second-round 78.
The Irishman sees his poor performances on Fridays as the main hurdle to another Major success.
"It's just about getting rid of these bad stretches of holes or these bad second rounds or whatever it is. If I can get rid of that, then there's no reason why I can't go next week and really contend."
The American 'Big Two'
Phil Mickelson (25/1 PaddyPower)
Lefty is feeling confident and relaxed after shooting a final round 65 at the Scottish Open, to go with his 2013 Open triumph.
"I'm able to go there as a past champion, as opposed to a foreign player who has never been able to conquer links golf," Mickelson said. "I just go there with a whole different confidence level.
Phil's form this year however has been shaky; he has no top-10 finishes on the PGA tour. In addition, his best effort at defending a major was a tenth-place finish at the 2005 Masters.
Tiger Woods (25/1 BetVictor)
The Open will be Tiger's second outing since back surgery. In his first tournament back he missed the cut.
He hasn't won a major in six years, and if his name wasn't Tiger Woods he would be at least quadruple this price.
However Matt Kuchar thinks Tiger still has some of the old mojo after a practice round last weekend.
“I absolutely think he could contend,” Kuchar said. “The Open, the knowledge he has, the skill-set he has? Yes, he could definitely contend.”
“We had a little match going and on the last hole he duly stuffed one in there close from 160 yards to beat me. So that was a bit of a bummer but totally like the Tiger we’re used to seeing.”
While being the last man to win the tournament at the course must count in Tiger’s favour, Nick Faldo thinks times have changed.
"That was Tiger at his optimum, that was him in a Tiger zen".
Gambling Online Magazine Picks
Henrik Stenson EW (18/1 Betway). Since 2008 the Swede has a trifecta of top-3 finishes at The Open, and has finished seventh or better in his last four tournaments.
Thomas Bjorn EW (66/1 @Ladbrokes). Another Scandinavian with a good history on the links. He shot 68 and 69 on the final two rounds at the Royal Aberdeen and has been runner-up twice at The Open. He also leads the European tour in prize money in 2014.