It’s here at last. After all the talking, and there’s been a lot of that, we’re about to get the 145th Open under way at Royal Troon.
But just because there’s barely 24 hours to go, it doesn’t mean it’s time to down tools in the search to find some winning bets.
I’ve already had a dabble or two in the overall market and, although this was written a couple of weeks ago, not too much has changed in my mind.
You can read my earlier thoughts here.
My one caveat is that since Johnson won at Oakmont, and then doubled up by winning the WGC at Firestone, his price has plummeted and he’s no longer any value as a 9/1 second favourite. That doesn’t mean, of course, he won’t still go on and win it.
Following decent showings at the Scottish Open last week, I’m also leaning towards smaller punts on Henrik Stenson (28/1), Phil Mickelson (45/1) and Graeme McDowell (80/1) in the each way markets.
The great thing about betting on the Majors, though, is that there are hundreds of different opportunities for us to get involved.
It doesn’t just have to be about who picks up the Claret Jug. I’ve had a scan at some of the early odds and these have caught my eye…
1st round 3-balls
I’m clearly stating the obvious but you are looking for players here that tend to get off to a fast start.
With the top contenders stuck together in the pairings, there’s a chance for a touch of value if you can get the right one.
Dustin Johnson is generally very quick out of the blocks and the rain that has softened up Royal Troon over the past couple of weeks should play to his long-ball strengths.
He may have finished 49th last year at St Andrews but the American started with a 65 and that makes him of real interest at 11/10 in his group of Martin Kaymer and Russell Knox.
You may also consider him at 14/1 in the first round leader market.
That same logic may also help Rory McIlroy, who is even money to get the better of Hideki Matsuyama and Bubba Watson.
Watson’s Open record is horrendous, while Matsuyama has missed cuts at Memorial and the US Open before struggling to tied 42nd at the Bridgestone Invitational.
Lee Westwood’s price of 6/4 in his pairing of Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els also has appeal.
Mickelson’s price may be affected by his final round 66 at Castle Stuart last week but the Englishman’s form has been remarkably consistent in recent events.
His worst finish was tied-32nd at the US Open and he was right in the frame at Oakmont until his closing 80.
Tied-11th at the Open de France keeps him in the groove and he has performed very well at Royal Troon in the past. It’s a course that suits him.
Top 20 betting
This is Adam Scott’s Open record from 2012 – 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 10th. Yet, remarkably, he is 11/10 to finish in the top 20.
He’s posted top 20 finishes in four of his last five PGA Tour events and, following a little lull following his back-to-back victories at the Honda Classic and Cadillac, might be running into form at just the right time.
Little has been said of the defending champion’s chances this week but I think Zach Johnson will put up a decent showing. If the wind gets up, as it did at St Andrews last year, his phenomenal wedge and putting game could see him land a top 20 punt at 2/1.
He’s finished 9th, 6th, and 1st in three of his last four Opens.
Top United States player
With more than 50 players in this market, the betting looks like a separate tournament with prices ranging from 11/4 (Dustin Johnson) to 150/1 (Todd Hamilton).
Many of the oddsmakers will be offering ¼ of the odds at up to 4 places so, if we can find a big priced horse that’s going to give us a decent showing, we could pick up some each way money.
There are two I like. Matt Kuchar’s form in the last few weeks has been particularly impressive and that can continue at Royal Troon.
Tied third at Firestone last time out, he’s also finished T4 at Memorial, T6 at the Dean & Deluca, 3rd at the Byron Nelson and T3 at the Players.
He’s played extremely well without winning and should be shorter than the 22/1 we are being offered. Ninth at Lytham and 13th at Muirfield shows he can handle Open conditions.
I think Jason Dufner has probably got a better chance of winning the PGA Championship in a couple of weeks but, at 40/1, I’ll have a small wager on him here as well.
For every 51st on his card this year, there’s also a top 10 finish at the US Open, 11th at the WGC-Cadillac and a win at the CareerBuilder Challenge.
We don’t need him to win this market. We need him to finish 4th to land a 10/1 shout. He’s got a chance of doing that at Royal Troon.