Open Championship Preview
This year’s Open Championship will be played at what is forecast to be a wet and windy Royal Troon golf course. A level head, nerves of steel and experience will play a big part in deciding the fate of the champion. For that reason it could pay to look past the top five in the betting, as with an average age of just 28, I feel there is too much room for an implosion by any of these golfers once the going gets tough (think Dustin Johnson’s 3 putt choke at the 2015 US Open, Jordan Spieth throwing away a 5 shot lead in 3 holes at this year’s US Masters or McIlroy’s infamous Sunday meltdown at the 2011 Masters). For that reason I have gone with three players who are in their 40s and have been around long enough to keep their head whilst everyone around them loses theirs, and who certainly look backable given their price.
Unlike their American counterparts, these courses aren’t set up for the longest drives, as any kind of mistake off the tee will leave even the best of players in serious trouble (this is the reason that Bubba wont get many takers even at 70/1). Instead I have looked at accuracy off the tee, and there is nobody on either tour who gets near Stenson for this with a massive 76.2% driving accuracy off the tee. It’s interesting to note that Stenson has lost 10 yards off his drive recent years, but has added 10% to his fairways hit. I can’t stress how much driving accuracy is going to play a part this weekend as the rough here at Royal Troon is amongst some of the harshest in the game, and even a slight deviation can land you in trouble. And with three top 3 finishes in the Open to date, maybe its time for Stenson (who has five top 10 finishes in his last 10 tournaments) to take the step up.
Back Stenson e/w at 30/1 with Paddy Power (PP pay 1/5 of the odds for the top 8)
I can’t imagine there would be many more popular winners this weekend than Harrington. He has won this tournament twice before (back to back in 2007 and 2008), but hasn’t exactly set the tournament alight since then, with a tied 20th spot last year the only glimmer of hope. However, he comes into this tournament with mind guru Bob Rotella hoping to keep his head focused for the four day haul, and as I previously mentioned you can as easily lose a championship in your head as you can win it with your hands.
An interesting thing to note here is that the past three winners of the open at Royal Troon have all won the Honda Classic tournament, meaning their may just be a significant link between the two – Harrington won that tournament last year as well as in 2005.
Back Harrington at 125/1 with Bet365 (B365 pay ¼ off the odds for the top 6)
They say that big shots off tees and neat chips onto the green will always win you plaudits, but its on the green that tournaments are won and lost (drivings for show, puttings for dough). A steady hand with the putter can mean the difference between a champion and an also ran. Not many people can beat Stricker’s impressive average of 27.4 putts per round, and only Jason Day can beat his 27 strokes gained through putting so far this tour – in fact, for most of the ways the tour measure putting you will find Stricker firmly in the top 10.
When you consider he is 6th on the PGA tour for average shots taken (ahead of Scott, Mcilroy and Fowler) and that he comes into this tournament on the back of a tied 2nd place last time out, you begin to wonder whether that 200/1 is too big.
Back Steve Stricker at 200/1 with Coral (Coral Pay 1/5 odds top 7)
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