I'm no writer but I do enjoy writing on my day off about golf which conveniently is on Wednesday's, the day before golf tournaments start. I also find it helpful for working through my research and breaking down players. Follow me on Twitter (@TheFav_orite) and instagram (@SportsbettingUniversity) for more content. - Matt Flagg
The 4th and final major of the year is here! The Open, golf's oldest championship returns to Royal Portrush after 68 years. Normally played in England or Scotland, this is just the second time it will be held on Irish soil. With all the great storylines that are sure to play out, the venue will be the biggest attraction of the competition. Built on the eroding coastline in Northern Ireland is where one of the two links courses at Royal Portrush sits, the Dunluce course which happens to be the more challenging of the two and takes its name from nearby Dunluce Castle will be this year's site. Fun fact, Dunluce Castle and its coastline is featured as House Greyjoy and the Iron Isles in the HBO hit series Game of Thrones.
Another interesting storyline this year is the course record. In 2005, Royal Portrush held theNorth of Ireland Championshipand a 16 year old local kid broke the course record with a 61. The record still stands today and that local kid who is now 30 years old is in the field, Rory McIlroy. Not surprisingly, he is one of the tournament favorites at 8-1.
The field consists of 156 golfers and what I enjoy about British Opens is that so many different players have a true shot at hoisting the Claret jug, which in my opinion is the coolest trophy in golf. When you go to a place, for example, like Bethpage, there are roughly 7-10 players who have a real chance to win there. Certain course layouts eliminate styles of play very quickly. When you go to an Open, There are legitimately 50 players who have a real shot, maybe even more. Remember when Tom Watson nearly won Turnberry in 2009 at the age of 60?
This year couldn't be more of a true British Open test. If you were to google “what type of conditions is the Open Championship played in” it would say something similar to,The Open Championship is played on links style golf courses that feature deep bunkers, no trees, large and undulating greens, and high fescue. It's typically played in high winds, colder temperatures and, often, rain.The 2019 British Open will be precisely this, a classic British Open test. It has now rained the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday before the Thursday opening round and more rain and winds of 10-15 mph are on the forecast the next 5 days. Any golfer who has played in the rain knows it takes a toll mentally, it can be uncomfortable and aggravating. It will be nice to see some of these guys who are use to 80 degree perfect country club conditions play in not so ideal conditions.
When I look to breakdown a tournament I start off looking at a players current form, the course layout and the player's course history. You can pretty much throw out course history this week as the majority of the field has never played Royal Portrush, at least in competition. There are a few guys who are very familiar with this course but the majority will be getting their first look this week. Former US Open champ and Northern Ireland native Graeme McDowell grew up on Royal Portrush. He even has his name engraved on his very own barstool at the nearby Harbour Bar.
2019 Open Champion
Graeme McDowell +5000 - I'm not a very big fan of placing outright tournament winner bets as I feel like the reward doesn't justify the feat of selecting the one player to beat 156 golfers. The players who normally do have a shot don't have fair odds. With that said I tend to look towards the middle-high long shots and hope for the best. G-Mac has been playing well this year and has a win at Corales Puntacana this year. He has had the Open circled on his calendar all year. His US Open win came at a very similar coastal style course in Pebble Beach. Anyone familiar with the magic of his 2010 US Open win at Pebble knows this guy thrives in storybook moments and none may be bigger than the British open returning to his hometown. I'm a sucker for the history making storybook moments.
Shane Lowry +1200 - Sticking with the local knowledge and course history theme I'm going with another fellow Northern Ireland countrymen here. Lowry is having a decent year second half on the PGA Tour, especially at both RBC events. He tied for 3rd at the Heritage and was the runner up at the RBC Canadian Open last month. He checks all the boxes for me and worth the +1200. At last check his odds are down to +1000 so at the very least I have some CLV.
Tiger -110 over Dustin Johnson
Typically Im looking to fade the big names as they’re are usually overpriced for no reason. Tiger is usually at the top of that list. He was close last year at Carnoustie and was in the hunt but Molinari derailed the comeback story. Tiger started waking up at 1am 3 weeks ago to adjust to the time difference, so fading a laser focused Tiger isn’t something I want to do this week.
Justin Rose +110 over John Rahm
Rose is no stranger to success at the majors. He has an Official World Golf Ranking of No. 4 and been extremely consistent outside of missing the cut at Augusta earlier this year. His odds are a bit longer here at this Open after he finished outside the top 25 in three of his last six starts, but that's why we can get him at plus money. He ranks in the top 15 on tour in scoring average (69.597) and sand save percentage (61.63). His precision around the green gives him all the tools necessary to stay in it. I think we will see Rahms famous temper early and often this week with the wet weather conditions and the straight forward but tough layout at Portrush. I can already see a soaking Rahm taking hacks out of the tall fescue while dropping some F-bombs.
2019 Open Props
Top Senior - Darren Clarke +250, Sticking with my theme, Another local lad and the only other player besides G-Mac with as much course knowledge and the only other pro to have his name engraved at nearby Harbour Bar. Good enough for me!
Top Lefty - Brian Harmon +350, With not many lefties in the field his only real competition is Phil and Bubba. This pick is more about me fading Phil and Bubba than liking Harmon. The wind will be howling and as we know Phil and Bubba hit the high bombs a mile in the air and routinely have the top average shot apex on tour. Harmon, on the other hand, flights the ball low with an average shot apex of 95’6” compared to Phils 140’2” average shot apex. I'm going with the guy who can navigate the winds better and the last thing you want on windy days is a high ball flight.
Future sites have been confirmed through 2022. They are as follows:
2020: Royal St. George's Golf Club, Sandwich, England
2021: The Old Course at St. Andrews, St. Andrews, Scotland
2022: Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake, England
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