While it is unfortunate that this is the last Major Championship week for nearly nine months, we are in store for quite a treat with the 150th edition of the Open Championship from the home of golf, the Old Course at St. Andrews. The best in the sport from around the globe will look to etch their name upon the Claret Jug in golf’s oldest tournament.
Some think this 7,313-yard Par 72 will be taken apart with low numbers due to its age, but this place always seems to show its teeth for the Open Championship. Bunkers, both fairway and greenside, will for once be penal for the pros, which is not the case most weeks on the PGA Tour. Also, while it is a fool’s errand to try and predict the weather on these links courses, we can expect to see much higher scores when the gusts pick up.
The Old Course has brought us winners of all different types the past four times it has hosted The Open – the long-hitting Tiger Woods (2000 & 2005) and John Daly (1995), the pure ball-striker Louis Oosthuizen (2010), and the wedge/short game savant Zach Johnson (2015). This would lead us to consider everyone in good form, and my outright card will reflect this with at least one player fitting the above criteria.
Open Championship Tournament Analysis
A few exotic bets I like this week are:
Hideki Matsuyama (-110) to be the Top Japanese Player. Although Hideki had a poor outing last week at the Scottish Open, much of that is due to being on the wrong side of the starting draw. There is no such thing as “free money” in sports betting, but I will be loading up on this one as the other Japanese players in this event do not include any player with Open Championship experience.
Sahith Theegala (-110) over Joohyung Kim for a tournament head-to-head. While impressed with Kim’s third-place finish at the Scottish Open, he is one I will fade in all formats this week as he has become too popular among the masses. Theegala has been consistently impressive on the PGA Tour all season long, and I like him in this spot.
Louis Oosthuizen (-120) over Viktor Hovland for a tournament head-to-head. I will detail my favor of Louis below, but this is more a bet against Hovland, who seems lost of late. I see these bunkers and tricky greens giving his weak scrambling game problems, but he has also not been close to his standard form with the driver or irons.
It is crazy that it has been 12 years since the wide-smiling Oosthuizen shocked the world with his win here at St. Andrews, and the South African heads into this week under the radar after he defected to the much-maligned LIV Tour. He has quietly played solid golf in his two starts there (fifth and tenth), with a T-8 finish sandwiched between at the DP World Tour’s BMW Open. In addition to the 2010 win, he lost in a playoff to eventual winner Zach Johnson in the last go-around at St. Andrews in 2015. He should feel comfortable and lean on that experience to turn in a solid week from Tee-to-Green. Due to his lack of outright wins over his career, I will not back that bet this week but give him a look at +750 to finish inside the Top Five.
Years have passed since we have seen Dustin Johnson with an Outright price this high at a Major Championship, and I am all over it at 33/1 here on a course tailor-made for his game. DJ had the 36-hole lead here last time in 2015 and seemed as if he was going to cruise wire-to-wire and take the Claret Jug home with him. The wind showed up on the weekend, and DJ carded a pair of 75s to finish a disappointing T-49. While the wind may do the same in 2022, I will bet on the upside of the form of the first two rounds in 2015, where his long tee ball and underrated short game can propel him to the top of the leaderboard. This outright price also may continue to balloon closer to Thursday morning as most casual bettors won’t be lining up to back the LIV contingency.
While Sam Burns lacks the resume in Major Championships compared to most in this betting range, the 25-yard-old LSU grad has shown that he is a born winner and can close out golf tournaments in the highest pressure situations. Burns is Top Ten in this field in ball striking, birdies-or-better, and strokes gained Tee-to-Green, and I think he is an excellent addition to any outright card at 40/1.
I saw enough of Cameron Smith over the weekend at the Scottish Open to make him my favorite outright bet at the Open Championship at 25/1. The 2022 PLAYERS champion is arguably the best in the sport in the short game, and his questionable driver accuracy should be penalized less than most weeks if it is off the mark at the Old Course. Smith is also an excellent bet for First Round Leader in hopes of a wire-to-wire victory, as he showed us a red-hot start in a major is in the bag at Augusta National with eight birdies in his Thursday round this past April. The mullet man is another proven winner under pressure in the biggest spots, and I like him to add Major Champion to his growing resume this Sunday at the home of golf.
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