Open Championship Golf Betting Tips
Robert Cobley is a maths graduate with years of experience in the sports betting industry. He has now teamed up with Bet UK to bring his golf betting tips to our players.
Royal Portrush Golf Club, Dunluce Course, Portrush, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. 7,330 Yards.
It’s hard to believe that the season’s final Major is upon us half way through July, but that is what awaits this week in Northern Ireland as the World’s top 156 players descend on the small coastal town of Portrush for The 148th Open Championship. Situated an hour’s drive north of Belfast, the Portrush estate is made up of 36 holes; the Valley Course, and the Dunluce which will be used this week. Dunluce was originally designed in 1888, overhauled in 1932 by Harry Colt, and most recently toughened and lengthened my Martin Ebert two years ago in preparation for this tournament. At its longest Portrush can now stretch up to an intimidating 7,330 yards.
This is very much a traditional links test. Some UK courses such as Sandwich, and at times Lytham or Hoylake can have a Parkland feel to some of the holes, but that is certainly not the case at Portrush. A rugged, treeless, undulating links with penal heather rough Portrush is a challenge, but will still be at the mercy of the elements for protection this week against this standard of players. The fairways are fairly wide, and the extremely slopey greens are afforded little protection by way of bunkering. What players will need to be careful of this week is run of areas. Many of the putting surfaces on the Dunluce mirror upturned saucers, and any shots that don’t have the right distance will run off into the huge trademark collection areas.
The keys to success this week will be distance control, and a good short game to recover on the occasions that the ball doesn’t hold the green. With a lot of players hitting irons off the tee, wedges and short irons will be seen a lot. Only light winds are anticipated, and in a field with such depth, anyone could get hot and contend in what is likely to be one of the lowest scoring Open Championships in recent memory.
Last Five Winners:
2018: Francesco Molinari -12
2017: Jordan Spieth -12
2016: Henrik Stenson -20
2015: Zach Johnson -15
2014 : Rory Mcilroy -17
The Market Leaders
A familiar and unsurprising name sits atop the Open Championship betting market this week. World number 3, and 2014 champion Rory McIlroy is (8/1) to take his second Open Championship, and first Major in 5 years at the course where he grew up, and where he still holds the course record that he shot as a 16 year old. With his exceptional history in this event, it is hard to make a case that any other player should head the betting this week. Behind Rory sits American Major Championship specialist Brooks Koepka (10/1). Koepka won the USPGA earlier in the year at Bethpage after distancing himself from the field in a stunning display that he nearly followed up a month later when finishing runner up to Gary Woodland at The US Open. Koepka has top 10 finishes in two of his last three Open Championships, but it’s hard to back him at the price at this type of venue.
Dustin Johnson (14/1) who finished runner up to Koepka at at Bethpage, and two time Irish Open winner John Rahm (14/1) make up the next tier in the betting. Johnson has a mixed Open Championship record with three top 10s, but only really contended in 2011 when he came 2nd behind Darren Clarke. Rahm has very progressive current form with that win two weeks ago at Lahinch coming on the back of 2nd and 3rd placed finishes; the latter being on the links at Pebble Beach. Of the two I make Rahm considerably better value.
Tiger Woods (16/1) and Justin Rose (20/1) make up the remainder of the top of the betting. Woods has stuttered somewhat since his Masters victory, and remains beset by injury concerns, whilst Rose finished tied 3rd with Rahm at Pebble Beach and will be looking to improve upon his joint runners up position that he shared with Mcilroy behind Francesco Molinari (20/1) last year at Carnoustie. Molinari comes into this week in very average form, and I would not expect a repeat of the 2018 heroics.
Try as I might, I have been unable to distance myself from the home tournament favourite this week. Rory McIlroy has an exemplary Open record, with his win in 2014 being followed up by finishes of 5th, 4th & 2nd (he did not defend in 2015 through injury). There was a myth long standing that McIlroy was not suited to links golf due to the tough challenges, both sporting and mental exerted by this form of the game, but these should have been well and truly laid to rest. Much of this attention came on the back of the 2010 Open at St Andrews when Rory shot an opening 63, only to be blown off the course in horrendous conditions on the Friday that put pay to the chances of all players on that side of the draw except eventual winner Louis Oosthuizen.
McIlroy grew up in Hollywood, just an hours drive from Portrush, and claimed the course record of 61 as a 16 year old. A record that stands to this day and, with the changes to the Dunluce Course, are likely to remain for the rest of time. He is a remarkable links player, and as importantly a remarkable wedge player. It is the short game that will dictate the winner this week, and Rory had his ball dancing all around the cup at Renaissance last week on his way to a solid 34th place in an event that, for him, was just a precursor to this week’s main event. The putter is streaky as it always has been with Rory, but if he putts above average he cannot fail to contend, and is value for me with 5 points win at 8/1.
In the mid range price bracket, I am struggling to find a better value selection than Pepperell. Eddie is a classic golfer, not too long off the tee, but hugely consistent and familiar with this format of the game. Last year at Carnoustie, he turned in his best Major Championship performance to date with a 6th place, and I think Eddie will be looking for even more when he comes back this year. In Ireland two weeks ago, south of the border at Lahinch, he posted a highly credible 4th position, and last week in conditions that were soft, and less similar to the test the players face in Portrush, he dropped to 40th place.
This is the exact type of test on which Eddie will thrive, and he should be in the 30-40/1 price range with the likes of Day and Kuchar for me, rather than down in the mid 60s. Again, there is value to both the win and each way parts of backing Pepperell this week and I suggest a strategy of 2 points e/w at 66/1.
A player that has somewhat surprisingly drifted in the market this week is Englishman Andy Sullivan. Now, nobody would suggest that Sully is playing his best golf; the type that saw him win 4 times on Tour just 24 months ago, but this is a player with top credentials who rightly aspires for Major Championships, and who has shown a revitalisation of late. With four top 30s in the last 4 weeks, including a tied 2nd at Lahinch behind Rahm, Sullivan has to be seriously considered in this format, and a price of 125/1 does not accurately reflect his chances.
His Open Championship record is not what it should be, but he has made 3 of 4 cuts, and his performance at Lahinch was all the evidence needed that he can compete at the highest level in this format. The start is crucial for Sully, as he can sometimes let his head drop when things don’t go completely to plan but, as he showed when leading early on a fortnight ago, there is no stopping him when he gets into contention. I shall be having 2 points e/w at 125/1.
The final selection for this week goes to South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout. A recent winner, claiming the Andalucia Masters in style just 4 weeks ago from John Rahm, Bezuidenhout has come on age on Tour, and should be well suited to Portrush. Valderrama is a similar test, with wedge play being the predominant arbiter of who contends and who does not. Four weeks ago, his iron play was on a different level to the rest of the field, and there is nothing to suggest that won’t be the case this week. With the wind down and putting surfaces softer than at most Open Championship venues, players like Bezuidenhout who can be streaky and go low are brought far more into the mix than they might be at other Major Championships. South Africans are notoriously good links players, and 250/1 is too big about this one this week. I suggest 1 point e/w at 250/1.
The Open Top Nationalities Betting Tips
As well as betting on outright winners markets at Bet UK, you can also bet on the the top golfers to come from a specific nation or region. Here’s Rob Cobley’s betting tips for The Open Top Nationalities.
In a week where I don’t expect the usual trans-Atlantic assault on the top of the leaderboard from the significant number of US players on show this week, I feel there is value to the Top American market, with several of the top names unproven, or out of form, in this format. Brooks Koepka (9/2) as I have said in the outright preview, has failed to really excel in his last couple of outings, and does not have the kind of Open Championship form I would associate with a 9/2 shot in this market. Behind him Dustin Johnson (6/1) has only once contended at The Open, and is unlikely to suit Portrush whilst Tiger Woods (8/1) is similarly rusty and the Dunluce course does not suit his nowadays less controlled iron play.
Though there are other contenders, and the market is deep, I very much like the chances of new US Open champion Gary Woodland. Woodland has played in seven Open Championships, making the cut on each occasion with a highest finish of 12th. He was in contention at Hoylake two years ago before an average weekend saw him fall away, but this was a different Gary Woodland. As the US Open champion, there seems to be a more relaxed feel to his game. He has that monkey off his back and has only appeared once since Pebble Beach. His game should be in good shape, and finishing top 4 in this market would land us an each way profit. I recommend 3 points e/w at 27/1.
The Top Spaniard market is one of the smaller heats with just seven runners making up the field. John Rahm, one of the red hot market favourites following his recent win at Lahinch, and runner up spot at Pebble Beach understandably heads the market at even money, and is even odds on in some places. What this means is that if Rahm does not perform, there is a huge amount of value in the other runners, and I am looking to the very bottom of the market, and vetran Miguel Angel Jimenez.
Jimenez plies his trade on the Seniors Tour these days, and might understandably be looking more towards the Senior Open Championship at Lytham & St Annes in a fortnight, but I think he still has the game to contend with the youngsters; especially on a shorter, more benign, course like Portrush. On the Seniors Tour, Miguel’s form has remained as strong as ever, finishing 6th and 13th in his last 2 events. The Open also has a history in recent times with players coming off the Senior Tour to contend such as Greg Norman and Tom Watson. Jimenez will, of course, need some help from the other 6, but I am happy to take a win only punt of 1 point win at 33/1.
Thirty-three year old Japanese Yuta Ikeda is something of an Open Championship veteran, playing this week in his 8th staging of this event. The previous attempts have not been overly successful, making three of eight cuts including last year at Carnoustie. Ikeda is not alone in this market for such average form; even clear market favourite Hideki Matsuyama (7/4) has missed two of his last three cuts in this event. Ikeda has been playing steadily on the Asian Tour; winning six weeks ago and accomplishing three consecutive top 30s since, so clearly arrives at Portrush in better than usual form.
Like I say, the competition is also sketchy with the Asian players on both Tours enjoying possibly their least successful season for a decade. Although each is capable of coming through in this market, I feel Ikeda represents the each way value and suggest 1 point e/w at 45/1.
In a field full of European talent, an old head stands out to me. Alex Noren has a fantastic links golf and Open Championship record with top 10s in two of his last four Opens, and a 17th place last year at Carnoustie. When he is hot there are few better players than Noren, and the slightly wider than usual fairways at Portrush are likely to play right to the strengths of the big Swede. Noren has a slightly higher ball flight, and with winds forecast to stay under 10mph this week it would be no surprise to see him come to the fore.
Alex has won on big open Swedish links venues before where he has blown fields away, and arriving at Portrush on the back making his last six cuts before a four week break, Noren will be fresh and ready to contend at the type of venue that ideally suits him. Again, an each way play is suggested with 2 points e/w at 56/1.
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*All odds from Bet UK’s online sportsbook correct at the time of writing.
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