It has been an edgy opening two days at the Open, as players have struggled to master a course which has proved much harder to read than anyone expected, even in the perfect golfing conditions that have prevailed.
At the time of writing, the cut looks like it will be made at either five or six over par. Neither will be enough to save one of the hot favorites before the tournament began, Matteo Manassero, and several other big names will miss out, too. If you backed the likes of Padraig Harrington or Sergio Garcia then get laying those bets off now, as they sit on that magic +6 mark. Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy still stand a chance of clawing their way back in to the weekend play, but frankly their tactics on this course have been so woeful to date that your money is better off elsewhere.
One of the things that we have learned about this Muirfield course over the opening days is that it is far better to be playing early rather than later. On both days, the greens have become drier and harder to read as the day has gone on, even today after extensive watering overnight. This is going to make for an interesting weekend, because the order of play on the final two days always has the leaders playing latest.
That doesn’t, of course, mean that you can just pick one of tomorrow’s early starters to back for the title. Aside from anything else, even in these conditions the ten or eleven shots they would have to make up on the leaders represents a huge swing. Also, as Mark O’Meara found out in the second round, the earlier you start, the fewer spectators there are to help you find your ball if it goes into the rough. The lost ball sent him tumbling down the leaderboard even before the rest of the leaders had teed off.
What you are looking for, therefore, are players who have been consistent no matter what their tee time has been. Tiger Woods has been consistent in his scoring but has had to scramble hard at times to stay in contention. He’s also not terribly good value at just 3/1 with William Hill.
The most solid performer over the two days has been the cigar-puffing Spaniard, Miguel Angel Jimenez. He’s played calmly and conservatively over two days and been rewarded with a place at the top of the leaderboard. Despite this he’s at least 20/1 in all markets (and 28/1 with Betway).
You might also consider Brandt Snedeker. He’s right in contention despite having played in the afternoon twice now. On the opening day he holed a remarkable chip out of a bunker on the 18th and a couple of other lucky breaks today suggest that this might just be his weekend. You can get 12/1 on him with Bet365 or 13/8 on him getting a place, via Coral.
The big tip for the weekend, though, is to make sure you follow the markets all the way through to Sunday afternoon. The very essence of a Major is that it is hard for players and the betting odds will fluctuate with every stroke on every hole. There’s some real value to be had out there.