2017 Open Championship Preview

Betting Preview FOr The 2017 Open Championship

We preview the 2017 Open Championship which gets underway this Thursday at Royal Birkdale.

The idiosyncratic joys of links golf come to full fruition this week with the premier golfing event of the year - at least from a European perspective - in the Open Championship. Henrik Stenson’s sensational duel with Phil Mickelson at Troon last year was one of the finest displays of competitive golf in recent memory. Don’t go expecting a score of -20 this week, however. Royal Birkdale has a reputation for displaying some of the more vengeful aspects of links golf. With over 120 highly treacherous bunkers and fescue that would make Erin Hills blush, Birkdale should be a course that rewards discipline over ambition.

This will be the 10th edition of the event hosted at Birkdale. Only St Andrews has had the privilege of hosting the event more often. For some reason, Birkdale isn’t quite held in the same illustrious esteem as Carnoustie or St Andrews- perhaps for the very fact that it is so punitive. Padraig Harrington won the last edition here in 2008 with a winning score of +3. That is the highest winning margin this century. Prior to that, Mark O’Meara took the title in a playoff after finishing the 72 holes in even par. Early weather forecasts seem to indicate that the winds will not be biblical this weekend, but those attempts at speculation are often made redundant by random gusts off the Irish Sea.

Dustin Johnson still leads the betting markets, despite going through quite a drastic dip in form since that dip down the stairs at Augusta. The likes of Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth and Sergio Garcia have all tasted success already this year, while Jon Rahm’s runaway victory at Portstewart has many clamouring to back the Spaniard. Justin Rose returns to the arena that saw him make his breakthrough as an amateur in 1998, while Rory is struggling with three missed cuts in his last four events.

Tommy Fleetwood and Alex Noren could lead the European charge while NBC commentator Johnny Miller believes that Matsuyama is the best in the world right now. That’s not even to mention defending champion Stenson and perennial links specialist Oosthuizen and Scott. This really is a lottery and reflects the extent to which golf has changed post-Tiger.

The Open Championship | Thursday 20 July - Sunday 23 July |  Royal Birkdale, Southport

Past Winners
2016: Henrik Stenson  | 2015: Zach Johnson (-15)*playoff | 2014: Rory McIlroy (-17) | 2013: Phil Mickelson (-3) | 2012: Ernie Els (-7)

To Win Outright
Dustin Johnson 14/1 | Rickie Fowler 16/1 | Jordan Spieth 16/1 | Jon Rahm 16/1 | Sergio Garcia 18/1

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Value Bets
Alex Noren - To Win 45/1 & To Place 19/2
Alex Noren will be looking to make it back-to-back victories for Sweden and underscore just how underestimated he is in the current pantheon of world golf. Despite the fact that nobody possesses as many victories as him in world golf over the last year, he also has a compelling links pedigree. He won the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart last season. He did miss the cut last week in Scotland, but they may have been a blessing in disguise as he got some extra practice time at Birkdale. He finished in a tie for ninth at the Open two years ago and also happened to win the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth a few weeks ago.

Brandt Snedeker - To Win 80/1 & To Place 17/1
Brandt Snedeker remains one of the most consistent performers in the US and is one of the purest ball strikers on tour. With nine top 10 finishes in Major Championships, Snedeker always comes into these events with little or no fanfare. His best finish at the Open was a tie for third in 2012, and he is coming into this event with some solid form under his belt. He finished with a top 15 at the Travelers, which was preceded by a top 10 at the demanding US Open: and let’s not forget that Erin Hills - fescue and all - was a links-style course.

Ian Poulter - To Win 80/1 & To Place 17/1
Ian Poulter goes into this event in search of that elusive first Major while simultaneously hoping to end a mammoth 25-year drought for English winners of the Claret Jug. He hasn’t won a Major in 51 attempts, but actually finished second at Birkdale in 2008. The Ryder Cup legend was T9 in 2012 before he finished in a tie for third in 2013. He has been rejuvenated since that mathematical blunder that awarded him back his PGA tour card. He finished second at the Players and headed into the final round of the Scottish Open in a tie for the lead.

The Man to Beat
Hideki Matsuyama - To Win 20/1 & To Place 44/10

Ranked at number two in the world, it’s rather curious to see the Japanese superstar at around eighth or ninth on the betting boards. He has had a terrific year at the Majors, finishing 11th at the Augusta before that brilliant second place finish at Erin Hills. His suitability to links -golf should not be in doubt either, after finishing sixth on debut at Muirfield in 2013 - which was certainly the last really exacting edition of the Open. He also comes into this year’s Open with some links golf in his locker, after a top-15 performance at the Irish Open that certainly augers well for Johnny Miller’s pick. He clearly has issues with the short blade, but his notoriously accurate driver should be able to put him in position to attack the greens with his deadly iron play.

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets

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