There are several ways to gamble on golf. Many choose to go the DFS route and compete against tens of thousands in a GPP in hopes their lineup climbs to the top of the leaderboard. Others prefer props to isolate specific situations with the tradeoff of a lower payout but a higher probability of success. And then there are betting on futures to try and win big by correctly picking the winner of an event. It’s one of the hardest bets to make in golf, especially in major championships where it’s tough to whittle down a list of four or five golfers from a pool of the best players in the world.
In order to bet smart on futures, one must develop a deep understanding not only of the form of every golfer coming in, but also how their skills translate to the golf course and how the golf course itself will play. In case you missed my analysis on Royal Portrush and what it should have in store for the field this week, click here.
Complicating matters for those who want to correctly pick the winner of the Open Championship is the weather, as a golfer with hot form and a perfect match for the golf course could get stopped in his tracks by mother nature. It’s important to keep a close eye on the weather report leading up to the tournament, but if the current forecast holds most of the golfers who are truly capable of winning the event will face similar weather conditions as everyone else.
At the beginning of the week, it appeared as though wind wasn’t going to be a significant factor until Sunday, but as of now the players should see gusts nearing 20+ MPH all four days with wet and damp conditions. This should give an already demanding Royal Portrush some teeth, meaning the players will have to show precision and consistency with their ball striking. It also could mean the leaderboard could see a shakeup on Sunday given the blustery conditions.
There’s a ton of value on the betting card of players more than 25/1 to win The Open that can back into the win simply by prevailing in a war of attrition. Here’s who I could see doing that at Royal Portrush (with odds courtesy of mybookie.ag):
Brooks Koepka – 10/1: Admittedly, I’m a little averse to ever lay a wager on a huge favorite at a major, especially one that could see mother nature wreck havoc on the leaderboard on Sunday. But if that doesn’t bother you then Koepka is worthy of a bet to win at Royal Portrush.
Sure, Koepka has done next to zilch at every other non-major tournament this year…but so what? The conditions at Royal Portrush (assuming the weather forecast holds like it does) is going to be tough sledding and demand both precision and thoughtfulness tee-to-green, which are tournament conditions that make Koepka so great.
If the price is a little too rich, consider this – a few weeks ago you couldn’t find Koepka more than 7/1 to win the Open, as the books were terrified putting them any lower given he’s three shots away from looking to complete the Grand Slam at Royal Portrush. Getting 10/1 on him is a bit of a bargain with how money he’s been in majors and what he’s capable of doing to Royal Portrush.
If that’s still not good enough to pull the trigger at 10/1, one could simply wait, get up very early on Thursday and live bet his odds during the 1st round. Typically the heavier favorites who tee off in the afternoon of a tournament can see their odds depress after a few golfers in the morning wave get off to fast starts. Koepka also has arguably the worst tee time of any of the favorites, as his 1:04 PM tee time means there’s no chance he sees any relief from the biggest winds of the day on Thursday. Though I believe he’ll still manage an acceptable round on Day 1, he may get off to a bit of a so-so start. That could then be the time to hammer him at a discount with hopes he can roar back over his final 54 holes.
Some people think Koepka can’t hack it on a links style golf course, which is complete baloney. He has Top 10 finishes at the Open in two of his last three starts, he won the Scottish Hydro Challenge at Macdonald Spey Valley in 2013 on the Challenge Tour, and has a T2 finish at the Alfred Dunhill Links Challenge when he was a European Tour member in 2015 (played at St. Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns in Scotland).
Once again, all eyes seem to be off Koepka as Tiger and Rory will hog the spotlight and the media driven storylines leading up to the tournament. That’s exactly where Brooks wants to be.
Jon Rahm – 16/1: I have to admit that making a hot head like Jon Rahm a pick to win The Open is a bit unnerving. There’s been many times I’ve put myself in his corner, only to see him implode after a few unlucky breaks.
As I laid out in the leaderboard analysis column from last week, eventual winners of the Open Championship are those who have won recently and come into the event on a hot streak, and Jon Rahm fits this criteria to a T. He’s been on an absolute tear lately, putting up all-world driving and putting performances on his way to winning the Irish Open, and he did a great job keeping things on track at Pebble Beach when it seemed like he was ready to explode.
There’s absolutely no reason why Jon Rahm cannot continue his hot ball-striking, and if (and that’s a BIG IF) he can continue to keep his composure on the golf course he can add “major champion” onto his already stellar resume at such a young age.
Xander Schauffele – 28/1: We haven’t seen Xander since his T3 performance at the U.S. Open, so it’s hard to tell if he can pick up right where he left off. But I really like his 28/1 price given how good he’s been at major championships, his form throughout 2019 and how consistent he can be on tough golf courses. He’s so well-rounded in his game, showing very little weaknesses in any particular area. That recipe is perfect for Open Championship setups where stability is a premium.
What’s held him back at majors is he makes a costly misstep at the wrong moment. Last year at Carnoustie, an errant approach shot (and a crying baby) sunk his chances to win on the 17th hole. At Augusta, a huge mistake on the 15th on Saturday ended up proving to be the difference between a runner up finish and a Green Jacket. But as long as he keeps putting himself in position on the leaderboard, eventually the breaks will fall his way into a major title.
Adam Scott – 33/1: The Claret Jug is Adam Scott’s white whale. Though he can call himself a major champion with his win at Augusta in 2013, there have been so many Open Championships that have slipped through his fingers that we’d look at his career and definitively say he’s the greatest Australian golfer to ever play.
Adam Scott very easily could have won three straight Claret Jugs from 2012-2014. The biggest one he let get away (and his biggest choke job to date) was at Royal Lytham and St. Annes in 2012 by bogeying his final four holes to blow a four shot lead to Ernie Els. The next year, Adam Scott held the lead on the Back Nine, only to once again card four straight bogeys to limp to the finish. In 2014, if he had the same tee time draw as Rory McIlroy it could have been him to win the Open that year, as he overcame bad weather conditions over the first two rounds to manage a Top 5 finish.
While Adam Scott hasn’t played a competitive round since his Top 10 finish at the U.S. Open, he reportedly has spent the last week picking Darren Clarke’s brain and disecting Royal Portrush. And there’s very few golfers with as good of ball striking as he’s had over the last few months, where he’s gained 2.98 strokes on the field per round tee-to-green over his last three ShotLinked measured tournaments.
The club that’s held him back so many times over the last few years has been his putter, but that’s been relatively ok for most of 2019. He also traditionally has putted better on slower bentgrass/fescue surfaces like he’ll see at Royal Portrush. The stars may be aligning for Adam Scott to at long lost drink from the Claret Jug.
Patrick Cantlay – 35/1: Has Cantlay peaked too soon? After winning the Memorial he got off to a very slow start at the U.S. Open and failed to live up to lofty expectations. But Cantlay had a good weekend at Pebble Beach to finish T21, and followed that up with another solid week at the Travelers where he returned to elite ball-striking numbers. Cantlay gained over two strokes per round on the field tee-to-green at that event, and like Xander Schauffele there appears to be very little holes in his game heading into Royal Portrush.
While I loved having Cantlay at 50/1 to win the U.S. Open, by the time the event teed off he was all the way under 20/1. The hype on him was simply out of control on the books. But at 35/1 and the spotlight off him a bit this week, I’m much more comfortable backing him at this number given his high ceiling and incredible talent.
He’ll have to overcome a bad Thursday tee time, but with the weather looking dicey on Sunday he just needs to be hanging around close to the top of the leaderboard to try and back into a win. Cantlay has the mental makeup to do just that.
Bryson DeChambeau – 40/1: DeChambeau is a little too mercurial for me to confidently use him in DFS this week, or on the favorable end of a matchup prop. Far too often I’ve seen him complain and moan anytime he faces a bit of adversity on the golf course. If ever there was a millenial golfer, a guy who thinks he’s smarter than he is yet is quick to whine anytime something doesn’t go his way, it’s him.
What I do know about Bryson, however, is that he’s what I would like to call as a “Microwave Golfer”. So far in his career he has gotten extremely hot very quickly, such as the Summer and early Fall of 2018 where he won four times. He then follows that off by cooling off as quick as he got hot, compiling bad ball striking performances and poor putting rounds with missed cuts and utter irrelevancy on the leaderboard. It’s probably attributed to how technical his swing and his putting stroke is, as it’s both unique and one that can absolutely go off the rails if even the littlest flaw is picked up.
During his most recent slump, Bryson showed signs of revitalization but was plagued by pairing good ball striking with poor putting one week, and good putting with poor ball striking the next. But over his last four tournaments, these two areas of his game are finally clicking at the same time, leading to a pair of consecutive Top 10 finishes. If it weren’t for a miraculous bomb by Matthew Wolff on the 18th green at TPC Twin Cities, Bryson may already have locked up another win. Instead, he comes into this week’s Open motivated to be the one to hoist the trophy.
A futures bet to win the Open will be the only skin I have on Bryson this week, but with the way he’s playing lately I feel good about placing a longshot bet on him.
Other Longshots to Consider:
- Paul Casey – 55/1: I’m not sure why Paul’s odds are this low. His ball striking has been phenomenal over his last few tournaments, and he’s one of the most precise and accurate hitters both off the tee and with his approach shots in the field. If I had to guess why he’s not closer to 35/1 or 40/1, Casey does not have the most reliable putter nor the most reliable track record in final rounds, and he’s had relatively mediocre success in the Open Championship. As a backer of Casey, I’m hoping his consistent style of play keeps him near the top of the leaderboard through 54 holes, and then blustery conditions on Sunday cause chaos and he emerges as a come from behind winner.
- Rafa Cabrera Bello – 66/1: I liked his odds a lot more when I grabbed them at 125/1 a few weeks ago, and since then the books have slashed his odds in half. While I worry he’s a little too trendy of a dark horse pick, his ball striking and putting is molten hot right now and he’s amassed three straight Top 10’s heading into the Open. Where he’s overachieved lately is his performance around the greens, which is an area that has haunted him in the past. If he can continue to navigate the areas around the green well, he could prove his popularity to be correct.
- Webb Simpson – 90/1: In 2015, Zach Johnson emerged from a bunched up leaderboard by having one of the rounds of his life on Sunday to capture the Claret Jug and a very surprising 2nd major on his resume. Webb Simpson possesses similar characteristics as him and could do the exact same thing. Royal Portrush will require almost every approach shot in a player’s arsenal, and Simpson is solid in almost every proximity to the hole statistic in 2019. He also possesses a good short game and a hot putter, and all that leads to the perfect recipe for success to win the Open this year. Riding hot form himself, Simpson could become another unlikely two time major champion this weekend.