Before we get to my Open Championship betting tips, here is everything else you need to know…
Venue: Royal Portrush, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Dates: July 18-22, 2019
Course stats: Par 72, 7,300 yards
Course summary: Martin Ebert’s revamped Dunluce course is a classic links test in every respect – think large dunes, undulating greens and very exposed to the wind. Two new holes, the 7th and 8th, will naturally capture attention but, as always with the Open, much will depend on the weather and the vagaries of the draw.
Defending champion: Francesco Molinari (-8)
Plenty, in fact…
Right, some tips…
Open Championship betting tips: Steve’s players to follow
Brooks Koepka (9/1) and his camp are emitting tonnes of confidence and not just because the American only deigns to find his best in a big four tournament.
Having not finished worse than 2nd in any major since last year’s Open, he can unleash his caddie – Portrush native Ricky Elliott – on the course and the combination could prove to be very significant.
Honestly, I know it’s a boring pick but how can anyone seriously back against the dual PGA and US Open champion?
He finished just inside the top 40 at Carnoustie last year but that was largely down to a third-round 75 on a day when pretty much every other contender shot forward.
Tenth at St Andrews and sixth at Royal Birkdale – when he was just setting out on the major-winning spree we’ve come to expect – he’ll be in my portfolio despite the price.
If you believe some, Rory McIlroy (9/1) spent his entire childhood nicking on to Royal Portrush and knows every blade like the back of his hand.
While his 61 there as an amateur is the stuff of legend, I don’t think he’ll be as well versed with the current set up as many would like us to believe.
McIlroy is potentially under a lot of pressure, given that it’s a home Open, and his Masters back catalogue has shown he doesn’t necessarily perform that brilliantly in those kind of circumstances.
But I believe this is a different kind of squeeze than the kind he experiences at Augusta National.
In that setting history, in the form of the Grand Slam, is as big a burden as the prospect of winning the green jacket.
He’s already claimed the Claret Jug and a crowd that’s universally supportive of him may work as a catalyst.
There are all sorts of reasons proposed why McIlroy’s game isn’t suited to links golf and his high ball flight would be a concern if the weather turned nasty.
But even taking out last year’s drought-fest at Carnoustie – where he had a legitimate chance of winning on the back nine – his recent Open record still looks very tidy.
Fourth at Royal Birkdale after an horrendous start on Thursday, he was fifth in 2016 but far off the pace set by Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson.
The Players and Canadian Open champion has barely been out of the top 10 all year and, with a record crowd behind him, a good start could finally see him end a five-year wait for another major.
Why is Matt Kuchar (50/1) so long? No, really, I need to know. Ninth last year and so close at Royal Birkdale when Jordan Spieth went mad on the final six holes, Kuchar has been a stellar performer all year with two wins and recent finishes of 2nd, 8th and 4th.
Links golf clearly suits him and, whatever he does in the Scottish Open, he will still travel to Northern Ireland in some of the best form of his life. There are people above him in the betting who have far less chance of scooping the Claret Jug than the controversial American.
Adam Scott (35/1) also looks a nice price among the principals. Seventeenth at Carnoustie, the Australian had endured a couple of years in the doldrums but it wasn’t so long ago that he posted Open figures of 2-3-5-10.
The first of those, in 2012, was the one he really should have won – when he inexplicably faded over the last couple of holes to hand Ernie Els the title.
But if he is going to add to his Masters victory than the Open seems the most likely to suit his style and, with his putter in better order this season, there’s plenty in his recent form to suggest a big challenge could be coming.
The 38-year-old was tied-7th at the US Open, 2nd at Memorial and in the top 10 as Koepka ran riot at the PGA Championship. Rested since, his form certainly seems on an upward curve.
I can’t help but put a pound or two the way of Jordan Spieth (28/1). Even in some desperate form, the 2017 victor at Birkdale has still had chances to add to his major tally at both the Masters and at Carnoustie last year.
Although he disappointed at Pebble Beach, and missed the cut at the Travelers Championship, he did post three top 10s in succession before then.
Links golf seems to inspire the Texan and is a big enough price, with Open figures of 9-1-30-4, to tempt me into a small outlay.
So you’ve seen my main fancies for Royal Portrush, why not have a look at the outsiders I’m hoping can make a splash at a big price?