Though placing bets on players to win the tournament has high rewards, it’s tournament props and matchups that give someone the best chance of raking in a profit. By isolating particular matchups and situations, one stands a better chance of taking advantage of mismatches or taking a side on a prop more favorable to their view of how a tournament will be conducted. It takes a great deal of homework and preparation to successfully bet on props, but if one puts in the work it can be quite a successful way of adding to their bankrolls.
Here are some props for the Open Championship that have caught my eye (with odds courtesy of mybookie.ag).
Top 20 Prop Bets
Here are a few players who I feel confident will finish inside the Top 20 on the leaderboard by the end of the weekend:
- Matt Kuchar (+175) and Webb Simpson (+300): Both of these players were covered in this week’s DFS column, so for more detailed reasons why I think they’ll fare well at Royal Portrush click here. The only other comment I’ll add is that it looks as though the players are going to be dealing with blustery conditions for most of the tournament. That makes me feel confident that guys like Kuchar and Simpson, who are very accurate and are good scramblers that can avoid big numbers on the scorecard, will ultimately finish near the top of the leaderboard.
- Chez Reavie (+600): Some people are a little turned off by Chez, who followed up his victory at the Travelers with an ugly missed cut at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit. But like Kuchar and Simpson, Chez is an accurate player who overall has shown great ball-striking numbers over the last few months. Even with the missed cut in Detroit, Chez has gained just under 1.2 strokes per round on the field tee-to-green over his last six tournaments, and has putted well for most of the year. With how well he’s played, I like the upside and value of his 6/1 odds he’ll have another Top 20 finish in a major this year.
Missed Cut Props
Here are a handful of players who I expect to have a very short stay at Royal Portrush:
- Bubba Watson Missed Cut (+110): The qualities of a player who should do well at Royal Portrush are players who hit the ball straight, possess elite accuracy with their irons and are good scramblers. These are not the traits of Bubba Watson. Combine this with his poor track record at the Open Championship and windy conditions on Thursday that will befuddle him, he should be flying back to Florida on Friday evening.
- Lucas Bjerregaard Missed Cut (-110): Bjerregaard has missed his last five cuts in worldwide starts and has shown next to nothing to suggest he’s ready to turn a corner. Bjerregaard ranks poorly in nearly every ball striking statistic on both the PGA Tour and the European Tour this season, especially with his performance off the tee. Royal Portrush is a golf course with tricky undulating fairways and several penalty areas a player can drive the ball into, so this does not look like a track where Bjerregaard can turn around his fortunes. His appearance at the Open Championship should be a short one.
- Kiradech Aphibarnrat Missed Cut (-140): While Kiradech has scrambled and putted the ball well this year, he’s been a huge mess tee-to-green on the PGA Tour. Like Bjerregaard, Kiradech ranks poorly in almost every off-the-tee and approach shot statistic out there, and that should get him into trouble plenty of times at Royal Portrush. He’s also missed the cut in three of his last five starts, and was an MDF casualty last week at the Scottish Open. Things aren’t looking up for him this week.
Here’s a few matchup props that have caught my eye this week:
Jim Furyk -130 over Aaron Wise: Wise wasn’t a guy I liked a whole lot before the U.S. Open, and while I was able to eek out a push in his head-to-head matchup against Jason Dufner he certainly proved me wrong. Nevertheless, I’m going back to the well as a non-believer this week. Wise gains most of his strokes off the tee with his driver, but too often he puts himself in bad position and doing so this week will be much more penal than it was at Pebble Beach. He also has struggled all year with his approach shots and scrambling, which is a not a good recipe to have coming into this year’s Open Championship. I like a more stable and consistent player like Furyk to best Wise one-on-one.
Paul Casey -140 over Marc Leishman: Casey is a guy I’ve spotlighted in both the DFS and the best bets columns this week as someone who could do very well at Royal Portrush. As for Leishman, if he can have a good driving week then he could have a good finish as well. But I just don’t have a whole lot of faith he can avoid trouble off the tee and keep big numbers off his scorecard. On the year Leishman ranks 117th in Strokes Gained – Off-the-Tee and 149th in Good Drive %, and anyone who is spraying their tee shots all over the yard won’t last very long at Royal Portrush. I don’t think there’s a very high ceiling for Leishman this week, so Casey is my pick over him head-to-head.
The World over Tiger Woods: My position to fade Tiger Woods this week has nothing to do with the long layoff. While it’s not ideal, Tiger really doesn’t need a whole lot of reps to be able to turn it on in an instant. That’s mostly a media driven narrative that some blogger can use to fill up the 1,000 word budget their editor laid out for them.
My concerns with him, however, is that I don’t think the golf course or mother nature is going to treat his back very well this week. Royal Portrush is not an easy trip around the block, as he’ll be making long walks up and down sand dunes, be asked to hit balls off uneven lies and trek onto elevated greens all weekend long. Whereas places like St. Andrews and Carnoustie are more flat and less taxing on his back, a hilly place like Portrush will ultimately take its toll. Tiger also has not played well when conditions are cool, damp and windy since his return from back surgery, and that is exactly the forecast in store for him this week.
I’m looking to grab pretty much anyone I can against him in a head-to head matchup this week. Whether it’s Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, or even Dustin Johnson (who I don’t even really like a whole lot this week!), I think all those players will ultimately finish ahead of Tiger on the leaderboard.
Highest Single Round Score – Over/Under 81.5
This one may or may not be offered by MyBookie this week, but I’ve seen this prop floated around on a few other books. With the weather forecast the way it is and how fluid it changes day to day, I just don’t feel very good taking a side on the winning score prop. That right now is set at 272.5 (-11.5), and while conditions do look to be tough it’s possible someone has a very good and consistent tournament tee-to-green and runs away with it. The conditions expected this week are similar to that at Royal Troon in 2016 and Royal Birkdale in 2017. While overall the field struggled in those events, Henrik Stenson (winning score 264) and Jordan Spieth (winning score 268) simply played a different golf course than everyone else and blew away the competition.
I do know that the weather conditions are not going to be conducive to good scores on Thursday, and with all the ways the strokes can pile on in a hurry at Royal Portrush I can certainly see someone shooting a really big number on Day One. There’s a lot of very poor players who are in the field this week, and with wind gusts up to 30 MPH expected an inferior player can certainly shoot into the 80’s.
I think someone will end up shooting an 82 or worse this weekend, and it might happen very quickly.