What does it say about a sporting event involving multiple entrants when the betting favorite is getting odds in double-digits? Do the words “wide-open affair” come to mind? That's how the betting on the 143rd edition of The Open Championship, or as we call it on the Western side of the pond, the British Open, shapes up.
Here's our take on what might happen this weekend at Royal Liverpool, with a few free golf picks thrown in for your consideration.
The Likely Contenders
In surfing several reputable golf betting sportsbooks earlier this week we found Adam Scott getting +1400 at BetOnline; Justin Rose getting 14/1 at Bovada; Rory McIlroy at +1600 at BetOnline; Henrik Stenson getting 16/1 at Bovada; some guy named “Woods” getting +1855 at 5Dimes; Martin Kaymer at +2035 at 5Dimes; defending Open champion Phil Mickelson at +2200 at 5Dimes; Sergio Garcia at 25/1 at Bovada; and Graeme McDowell at +2600 at 5Dimes.
Among the members of the next tier of betting we found Ricky Fowler at +3900 at 5Dimes; Dustin Johnson at 40/1 at Bovada; and Ian Poulter at 50/1 at Bovada.
Here's the deal; would it come as a surprise if any of those mentioned above claimed the Claret Jug Sunday afternoon? Not really. Do any of the above hold a measurable advantage over the others? Not from what we can discern. The betting on this tournament looks like a crap-shoot, and we're looking for betting value more than anything else.
Lee Westwood, still searching for that first Major title, could be your next sports pick found at +6000 at 5Dimes, as could Luke Donald.
The venerable Angel Cabrera, a two-time Major champion, could be gotten at betting odds of +7000 at 5Dimes.
And “The Mechanic,” Miguel Angel Jimenez, could be bet at +9500 at 5Dimes.
We find at least one of these guys worth a wager.
The Obligatory Mentioning of Tiger Woods
Eldrick won the Open the last time it was played at Hoylake, back in 2006, but since then, as you might have heard, he's had some troubles, both on and off the course. Also, he didn't even play in the first two Majors of this season, due to injuries. Then again, we can't remember the last time Woods was getting anything near 18/1 to win a tournament. So that right there might make him worthy of a wager.
We don't root for Tiger, or against him, and it would be exciting to see him in contention on Sunday. We just don't think it will happen.
Royal Liverpool will play at around 7,300 yards this week, and while that isn't much different from the last time the Open was played here, the course will play much differently, thanks to a much wetter spring/early summer.
When Tiger won here eight years ago he famously hit his driver just once all week. But that came during a drought, in very dry and dusty conditions. This year the Liverpool area has received a decent amount of rain, and reports indicate the course is almost plush, with a thick level of rough lying within the wispy weeds. Oh, yeah, and that's not to mention the many deep bunkers typical of British Open venues.
Keep it in the fairways, boys.
No professional tournament, regardless of the venue, is influenced more by the weather than the British Open. That's a big part of what makes it so fun, at least for those of us watching on TV. As for the players and the fans on course, that's a different story.
From a few days out the forecast for the Liverpool area this weekend looks like this; Thursday is supposed to be nice, not too windy. But on Friday the wind is supposed to kick up, and rain, possibly in the form of thunderstorms, is expected for Saturday and Sunday.
Of course, weather forecasts from two or three days out can be worthless, but if the weatherman is right it may take a grinder to win this tournament.
Free British Open Picks
For this exercise we'll use a theoretical $100, and spread it among three picks.
First off, we love Cabrera; he can bomb it, can hit it low, he's got a very nice touch around the greens, and balls of iron. He's won big tournaments before, and he just won at Greenbrier a couple weeks ago. So we'll wager half our bankroll, 50 bucks, on “El Pato,” at odds of 70/1.
Among the favorites the best value we see comes with Scott, who owns a pair of near-misses in this event. So while we're not exactly going out on a limb, we'll wager half our remaining dough, 25 bucks, on the Aussie, getting 14/1.
And finally, we've been thinking Ian Poulter would win a Major for quite some time now. Maybe now, playing a little below the radar, he's ready. So despite reports of a sore wrist we'll wager our last 25 bucks on the Englishman with the penchant for loud trousers, at odds of 50/1.
This year's edition of The Open begins when 2001 champion David Duval, Robert Karlsson and David Howell tee it up at 1:25 am ET Thursday morning.