The Open Championship – Golfers to Target

Mark Diana
Golf Analyst

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The final Major of the 2021 Super-Season is upon us. The PGA Tour makes its annual trip across the pond for The Open Championship. Last year’s Open Championship was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so the defending champion is still Shane Lowry. This year’s Open Championship will be held at Royal St. George’s, one of the toughest courses in the rotation. The last time this course hosted The Open Championship was in 2011 and was won by Darren Clarke. 

Royal St. George’s is a coastal links course which will challenge golfers to stay close to even par. The rolling, undulating fairways will lead to uneven lies and difficult scrambles for par. The greens are firm bentgrass greens that will be fast and dried out from the wind. The course is exposed to the weather with very little protection so it is worth monitoring AM/PM splits when building lineups and betting cards. As with every Major, focusing on the top of the betting board will be the priority. The last eight winners of The Open have all been ranked inside the Official World Golf Rankings, and have all come into the event riding good form. 

Each week, I will highlight golfers from different price tiers to help you build your betting card! The four price tiers I will highlight this week will be the: the top-tier, mid-tier, sleepers, and longshots. Top-tier golfers will consist of golfers who are 30-1 or less. The mid-tier will consist of golfers who are longer than 30-1, but shorter than 60-1. Sleepers will consist of golfers who are longer than 60-1, but shorter than 100-1. Longshots will consist of golfers who are longer than 100-1

Top-Tier (Under 30-1)

Brooks Koepka 18-1

Brooks Koepka lives for Majors. He is a big game hunter, and these are the events that motivate him the most. Koepka is riding strong form with three Top 5 finishes in his last four starts, which includes two Major championships. Koepka’s best golf has come in events where scoring is limited. He is able to rise to the occasion and have the mental fortitude needed to be a Major winner. The flatstick has let Brooks down despite his high finishes. If he is able to recapture his old putting form, then I would expect to see Koepka in one of the final groups on Sunday.

Rory McIlroy 19-1

Rory McIlroy broke out of his mental slump with a victory at Quail Hollow a few months ago. The former #1 golfer in the world, Rory showed good form at the U.S. Open and his pedigree in Open Championship is unmatched. Since 2010, Rory has played in nine Open Championships where he has five Top 5 finishes including a victory in 2014. The strength of Rory’s game is his ball-striking and his length Off-the-Tee. If he is able to dial up his wedges and adjust to the tough conditions, I expect Rory to continue to find success in this event.

Jordan Spieth 20-1

A former winner of The Open, and a recent winner on Tour this season, Jordan Spieth is primed to win his first Major championship since 2017. Spieth’s resurgence this season is a result of his iron-game returning to form. Over his last 40 rounds, Spieth has gained 1.03 strokes per round on Approach. The creativity and vision of Spieth allows him to find magic escapes Around-the-Green and when you pair that trait with strong irons you get a top ten player in the world. I’m sure Spieth will be a popular player this week but it is for good reason.

Mid-Tier (Longer than 30-1, Shorter than 60-1)

Collin Morikawa 35-1

There will be a day when books stop posting these odds on Collin Morikawa. A four-time winner on the PGA Tour (including a Major and WGC!) Morikawa continues to deliver results. Links style golf courses will test the patience and maturity of golfers and Morikawa has shown himself to have the composure to contend regardless of the scoring conditions. I love Morikawa’s ability to pound fairways and greens because it will help him avoid any major mistakes. Morikawa has been trending lately with four Top 10 finishes in his last six starts, including a playoff loss to Patrick Cantlay. With strong recent form, proven success against the very best, and consistent ball-striking, Collin Morikawa is my favorite bet of the week.

Matt Fitzpatrick 40-1

Matt Fitzpatrick lost in a playoff in the Scottish Open this past weekend. The strong form is nothing new for Fitzpatrick. In 17 events this season, Fitzpatrick has compiled nine Top 25 Finishes. Despite being relatively short Off-the-Tee, Fitzpatrick has been one of the best drivers this season. The 26-year-old Englishman has said multiple times that he prefers difficult courses that force golfers to think their way around the course. This is the type of setup that Fitzpatrick desires so he should show out well.

Paul Casey 45-1

Paul Casey has been one of the most consistent golfers on Tour this season. The strong performances by Casey have been on the heels of exceptional ball-striking. Over his past 36 rounds, Casey has gained 1.04 strokes per round on Approach. The iron play has resulted in Top 10 finishes at Major championships this season. The fact that Casey has performed so well at these Major championship venues while losing strokes putting. makes him a breakout candidate. If Casey can find his putter for four days, this could be the week that he wins his first Major. 

Scottie Scheffler 45-1

Scottie Scheffler has quietly had a really spectacular season. He has finished inside the Top 20 in all three Majors, and inside the Top 5 in both WGCs. The problem with Scheffler has been his Sunday performances. Every time he finds himself in the hunt, he seemingly collapses down the stretch. Despite the woes with his ability to close, I think there’s value on him because he will be in the mix. At a course that will be so volatile, he might not need to close a tournament the way golfers traditionally do. The tough scoring means that Scheffler just needs to hang around and error-free and can find his name in the mix on another Sunday.

Sleepers (Longer than 60-1, Shorter than 100-1)

Marc Leishman 70-1

Marc Leishman flashed form with a 3rd place finish at the Travelers Championship a few weeks ago. He is an experienced player who has won six times on the PGA Tour. His most recent win was a few months ago at the Zurich Classic with countryman Cameron Smith. Leishman has found some success at Open Championships, where he has three finishes of 6th or better in his last six attempts. Leishman can be a sneaky player this week to keep your eyes on.

Cameron Smith 75-1

There is no water on this course. That’s all I need to hear to be back on board the Cam Smith train. Everytime I bet Smith he seemingly goes for a swim so while I do say it jokingly, it actually is a good thing there is no water in play. Smith won with Leishman at Zurich and he’s another short game wizard. When he finds himself in trouble, Smith’s imagination and wizardry Around-the-Green keeps him alive. On a course that’s setup this way, I love Smith’s experience in the wind and his scrambling abilities. 

Abraham Ancer 90-1

Abraham Ancer is a model of consistency. He has been unable to win on the PGA Tour despite many close calls. His entire game plan is to stay on the short grass and land on greens. His fairway finding will allow him to avoid the treacherous fairway bunkers. Over his last 24 rounds, in this field Ancer ranks: third in Good Drives Gained, fourth in Bogey Avoidance, and sixth in Total Strokes Gained. Ancer profiles very well for this style of course and provides good value at these odds. 

Longshots (Longer than 100-1)

Alex Noren 100-1

Alex Noren came out of nowhere to finish 4th at the Rocket Mortgage Classic two weeks ago. This a good sign for Noren, a player who was once known for his prowess on difficult courses. Noren is an experienced links player and has found success in the wind. Noren has three straight Top 20 finishes at Open Championships and is someone who I will definitely bet in the Top 40 market. 

Francesco Molinari 200-1

Francesco Molinari is a wildcard. He has been very inconsistent and has not played all too much. Regardless, Molinari showed up to a course he loves in Torrey Pines and found himself right at home. Molinari’s T13 finish at the U.S. Open showed me that Molinari is definitely a course fit player. He has won this event before, so this style of course certainly suits his game. At these odds, I love Molinari in the Top 40 market.

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