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British Open betting tips: Odds favor Rory McIlroy, but Royal Portrush field is wide-open – Sporting News

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We’re just days away from the final major of the year, and several players have an opportunity to add the Claret Jug to their storybook careers this weekend during the British Open at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland.

Brooks Koepka (10/1 odds), the world’s top-ranked golfer and a majors machine, can add a new feather to his cap and claim his first British Open title.

Rory McIlroy (8/1) can win his sixth major championship on a course where he shot a course-record 61 at the age of 16.

And, of course, Tiger Woods (18/1) can continue one of the most remarkable comebacks in the history of sports with a fourth win at this tournament.

And if you’re the gambling type, there are wagers to be made that can make an immensely intriguing weekend even more exciting.

For those of you with a few bucks to spare on the tournament, we’ve enlisted the help of Justin Ray, Head of Content for the golf analytics company 15th Club, to help us better understand Royal Portrush as a golf course and the British Open as a unique major championship.

Which metric means the most when forecasting success at Royal Portrush?

Royal Portrush Golf Club, located on the northern-most coast of Northern Island, will provide viewers spectacular views, but it hasn’t offered bettors, or even golfers, much of a look at its links setup in recent years.

The course hosted the Irish Open in 2012 but has undergone significant changes since with a handful of added bunkers and entirely new seventh and eighth holes, among other major alterations.

However, in comparing Royal Portrush to other courses on the European Tour, Ray believes this par-71 beast provides some serious challenges.

“Portrush should play as more penalizing than normal when players miss fairways and greens,” Ray told Omnisport. “And while not every links course plays exactly the same, typically the same themes arise – scrambling ability is critical, and avoiding bogeys is more important than racking up birdies.”

The top of the PGA Tour leaderboard in scrambling isn’t exactly a “who’s who” of the game, but the name at the top – Patrick Cantlay (25/1) – has flirted with elite status this season and claimed into the top 10 of the World Golf Rankings in June with a win at The Memorial.

Other marquee names in the top 20 in scrambling include Webb Simpson (100/1), Matt Kuchar (30/1), Tommy Fleetwood (25/1), Francesco Molinari (20/1), Marc Leishman (60/1) and Justin Rose (20/1).

Notable scramblers

Player Scrambling % PGA Tour rank
Patrick Cantlay 67.33 1st
Webb Simpson 67.07 2nd
Matt Kuchar 65.00 8th
Tommy Fleetwood 64.75 10th
Francesco Molinari 64.66 12th
Justin Rose 63.94 18th

Which metric means the least when forecasting success on this course?

While one can certainly lose this golf tournament on the greens, it likely won’t be won with a putter, according to Ray.

“Links golf tends to be less of a putting contest than normal,” he said. “Statistics like putts per green in regulation and strokes gained putting typically hold a little less weight on this type of golf course. Some of the best players on links-style courses over the last decade include Henrik Stenson (30/1), Jon Rahm (16/1) and Adam Scott (30/1) – players whose ball-striking is typically stronger than their putting acumen.”

Among the golfers Ray mentioned, Rahm has gotten the most attention leading up to this tournament after finishing in the top three in his last three starts. He certainly fits the bill as a player who plays well off the tee and to the green, but doesn’t necessarily fare as well once he makes it to the short grass.

Jon Rahm’s PGA Tour ranks

Strokes gained 2019 rank 2018 rank
Off-the-tee 4th 2nd
Tee-to-green 15th 20th
Around the green 62nd 52nd
Putting 53rd 147th

Which of the biggest names has a game best suited for Royal Portrush?

When it comes to majors, the discussion should always begin (and usually ends) with Koepka. His cumulative score of 64 under par in majors over the last three years is 35 shots better than any other player.

But according to Ray, Koepka’s game isn’t immune to adverse weather conditions.

“The ultimate question regarding Koepka, and any other power player, is whether or not the wind will give Portrush what it needs to defend itself this week,” Ray said. “The extremely low scores we saw at the Scottish Open were largely because of docile weather conditions. More of that, and we’ll likely see players who can overpower par 4s and 5s turn The Open into a birdie-fest.”

However, one number to keep in mind won’t be found on any stat sheet or scorecard, but on a birth certificate.

“One thing that has been valuable in The Open in recent years compared to the other major championships is experience,” Ray pointed out. “Since 2011, the average winner at The Open is 36.1 years old, nearly five years older than the winner of any other major in that span. Four winners have been 40 or older during that stretch – the other three majors combined have had only one winner age 40 or older.”

Age of British Open winners

Year Player Age
2018 Franceso Molinari 35
2017 Jordan Spieth 23
2016 Henrik Stenson 40
2015 Zach Johnson 39
2014 Rory McIlroy 25
2013 Phil Mickelson 43
2012 Ernie Else 42
2011 Darren Clarke 43

Are there any quirky factors to keep in mind before the boys take the course?

Koepka caught a small of amount of flak ahead of the PGA Championship when he said majors were the “easiest to win” because there are only “maybe 35” players he has to worry about beating on a given major weekend.

Well, he’s not entirely wrong.

The last 31 majors have been won by players ranked in the top 50 in the world, but Ray said “this championship has a wide-open feel to it, largely because of the collective unknown of the golf course.”

“That trait can be exacerbated if we see some wind and rain,” Ray added. “Regardless, this should be one of the most exciting atmospheres for an Open in some time.”

Another trend that could be bucked this weekend is the 37-year drought for an American Grand Slam as a U.S.-born player has won the first three majors of the year (Woods, Koepka and Gary Woodland).

The last time the United States held all four majors was 1982 when Craig Stadler won the Masters, Raymond Floyd won the PGA Championship and Tom Watson won the U.S. Open and British Open.

Who’s someone we’re not talking about who could surprise us and be near the top of the leaderboard Sunday?

If there’s one thing we know from our preparation for this tournament, it’s that we don’t know much.

The course and conditions are complete wild cards, which means we’re destined for a wild-card contender.

“One European Tour veteran who I like this week is Rafa Cabrera Bello,” Ray said. “He’s coming off three consecutive top-10 finishes and has had success on links courses in the past, including a win at the Scottish Open a couple of years ago. He finished tied for fourth two years ago at Royal Birkdale, too.”

Cabrera Bello, 35, has longshot odds at 80/1, so a $10 flyer on the Spaniard to win would net a cool $800.

Ray also tabbed 41-year-old Kuchar as a potential play in the third tier of favorites at 30/1 odds.

“Kuchar is arguably having the best season of his career, and has finished in the top 10 each of the last two years at The Open,” Ray said. “Both players (Kuchar and Cabrera Bello) would fit the ‘experience-pays’ model and I think are good bets to at least finish in the top 10.”

Full 2019 British Open odds

Player Odds
Rory McILROY 8/1
Brooks KOEPKA 10/1
Dustin JOHNSON 10/1
Jon RAHM 16/1
Tiger WOODS 18/1
Justin ROSE 20/1
Francesco MOLINARI 20/1
Xander SCHAUFFELE 20/1
Rickie FOWLER 25/1
Patrick CANTLAY 25/1
Tommy FLEETWOOD 25/1
Justin THOMAS 25/1
Adam SCOTT 30/1
Louis OOSTHUIZEN 30/1
Henrik STENSON 30/1
Matt KUCHAR 30/1
Bryson DeCHAMBEAU 40/1
Jordan SPIETH 40/1
Jason DAY 40/1
Hideki MATSUYAMA 40/1
Paul CASEY 50/1
Graeme McDOWELL 50/1
Matt WALLACE 50/1
Gary WOODLAND 60/1
Marc LEISHMAN 60/1
Tony FINAU 80/1
Sergio GARCIA 80/1
Shane LOWRY 80/1
Ian POULTER 80/1
Patrick REED 80/1
Matthew FITZPATRICK 80/1
Rafael CABRERA BELLO 80/1
Bernd WIESBERGER 80/1
Phil MICKELSON 100/1
Tyrrell HATTON 100/1
Webb SIMPSON 100/1
Eddie PEPPERELL 100/1
Danny WILLETT 125/1
Kevin KISNER 125/1
Erik VAN ROOYEN 125/1
Chez REAVIE 150/1
Adam HADWIN 150/1
Zach JOHNSON 150/1
Brandt SNEDEKER 150/1
Haotong LI 150/1
Lee WESTWOOD 150/1
Alex NOREN 150/1
Thorbjorn OLESEN 150/1
Sungjae IM 150/1
Christiaan BEZUIDENHOUT 200/1
Joaquin NIEMANN 200/1
Andy SULLIVAN 200/1
Abraham ANCER 200/1
Bubba WATSON 200/1
Branden GRACE 200/1
Thomas PIETERS 200/1
Keegan BRADLEY 200/1
Cameron SMITH 200/1
Russell KNOX 200/1
Byeong Hun AN 200/1
Emiliano GRILLO 200/1
Lucas BJERREGAARD 250/1
Jim FURYK 250/1
Charley HOFFMAN 250/1
Aaron WISE 250/1
Billy HORSCHEL 250/1
Padraig HARRINGTON 250/1
Charles HOWELL III 250/1
Lucas GLOVER 250/1
Rory SABBATINI 250/1
Ryan PALMER 300/1
Jason KOKRAK 300/1
Tom LEWIS 300/1
Kevin STREELMAN 300/1
Benjamin HEBERT 300/1
Andrew JOHNSTON 300/1
Mike LORENZO-VERA 300/1
Nate LASHLEY 300/1
Andrea PAVAN 300/1
Dylan FRITTELLI 300/1
Luke LIST 300/1
Si Woo KIM 300/1
Jimmy WALKER 300/1
C.T. PAN 300/1
Kyle STANLEY 300/1
J.B. HOLMES 300/1
Jorge CAMPILLO 300/1
Andrew PUTNAM 300/1
Jazz JANEWATTANANOND 300/1
Romain LANGASQUE 300/1
Joost LUITEN 300/1
Justin HARDING 500/1
Keith MITCHELL 500/1
Ryan FOX 500/1
Kiradech APHIBARNRAT 500/1
Sung KANG 500/1
Shubhankar SHARMA 500/1
Adrian OTAEGUI 500/1
Chris WOOD 500/1
Ernie ELS 500/1
Alexander BJORK 500/1
Alexander LEVY 500/1
Shugo IMAHIRA 500/1
Stewart CINK 500/1
Miguel Angel JIMENEZ 500/1
Brandon STONE 500/1
Zander LOMBARD 500/1
Oliver WILSON 500/1
Corey CONNERS 500/1
Joel DAHMEN 500/1
Adri ARNAUS 500/1
Doc REDMAN 500/1
Nino BERTASIO 500/1
Mikko KORHONEN 500/1
Callum SHINKWIN 500/1
Robert ROCK 500/1
Paul WARING 500/1
David LIPSKY 500/1
Kurt KITAYAMA 500/1
Robert MACINTYRE 500/1
Richard STERNE 500/1
Patton KIZZIRE 1000/1
Dimitrios PAPADATOS 1000/1
Yuta IKEDA 1000/1
Shaun NORRIS 1000/1
Sang-Hyun PARK 1000/1
Takumi KANAYA 1000/1
Prom MEESAWAT 1000/1
Chan KIM 1000/1
Tom LEHMAN 1000/1
Darren CLARKE 1000/1
Austin CONNELLY 1000/1
Brandon WU 1000/1
Connor SYME 1000/1
Jake McLEOD 2000/1
Yoshinori FUJIMOTO 2000/1
Yuki INAMORI 2000/1
Yosuke ASAJI 2000/1
Isidro BENITEZ 3000/1
Paul LAWRIE 2000/1
Doyeob MUN 2000/1
Gunn CHAROENKUL 2000/1
James SUGRUE 2000/1
Innchoon HWANG 2000/1
Dongkyu JANG 2000/1
Sam LOCKE 2000/1
Mikumu HORIKAWA 2000/1
Matthias SCHMID 2000/1
Garrick PORTEOUS 2000/1
Jack SENIOR 2000/1
Matthew BALDWIN 2000/1
Curtis KNIPES 3000/1
Andrew WILSON 3000/1
Thomas THURLOWAY 3000/1
Ashton TURNER 3000/1
David DUVAL 3000/1

Odds via VegasInsider.com. Odds updated July 16 at 3:30 p.m. ET.

15th Club describes itself as a “passionate team of golf professionals, data experts and software engineers” that provides comprehensive data for professional golfers, brands and media outlets. Follow Justin Ray on Twitter here.

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