This article is part of our Betting on Golf series.
The Open Championship Betting Preview
The fourth and final major of the year is here as the golf world turns its attention overseas for this week's The Open Championship.
Royal St. George's in England hosts for the first time since 2011, when Darren Clarke, at 5-under-par, cruised to a three-shot victory over Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson. With last year's event canceled due to the pandemic, the defending champion is Shane Lowry, who at 80-1 odds won by six strokes over Tommy Fleetwood in 2019 on his home soil.
Royal St. George's is a links-style course that plays on the coast of the North Sea, so it should come as little surprise that windy and cool conditions are expected. It will play as a par-70 at approximately 7,200 yards, and like many links courses, we'll see wide, undulating fairways and pot bunkers in fairways and around the greens that can lead to what are essentially penalty strokes.
I'm looking at targeting strong iron players and golfers that have had prior success at The Open Championship and on links courses. Shorter hitters will be at a disadvantage this week, and driving accuracy will be discounted.
All odds via DraftKings Sportsbook as of 6:30 PM ET Wednesday.
Open Championship Success
The following five golfers have the lowest scoring average at The Open Championship since 2015:
2015 Open Championship winner Spieth tops the list, having never missed a cut in his seven appearances and recording three top-10s. Since winning the Valero Texas Open in April, half of his results have ended in top-10s, and he heads to a major where driving distance isn't a huge detriment. It's difficult to find something not to like about Spieth this week, and at 14-1 there is a bit of value to be had. A more under-the-radar golfer that's had success at The Open is Finau, as he's coming off consecutive top-10s at the event and has never finished outside the top 30 in four appearances. He missed back-to-back cuts leading up to this event, but his all-around game still makes him an intriguing option at longer-than-usual odds of 45-1 to win.
Approach the Bench
These golfers gained the most strokes on approach, on a per-round basis, over their last five tournaments:
Morikawa will be making his Open Championship debut and will try to ply his elite iron play on a links course. He struggled at last week's Scottish Open, finishing T71 in just his third European Tour event. He'll need his approach play to carry him, as his sub-par putting could be a hindrance on the tricky greens. Koepka checks in on both lists as he looks to take down one of the two majors that have eluded him. While he hasn't won, it would be wrong to say Koepka is not a fit for the Open Championship, with three of his last four appearances resulting in top-10s. Koepka has been dialed in with his ball striking and should feel at home overseas, having played primarily on the European circuit for his first two professional seasons. Even as the second choice on the board – tied with Spieth – there's value on him at 14-1.
Rory McIlroy (18-1)
After hitting on Glover to win last week, I'll look to keep the momentum going with McIlroy. He struggled as the betting favorite in his home country two years ago but is now priced reasonably at 19-1. Prior to that result there was nobody better in this tournament, as McIlroy won in 2014 and followed that up with three consecutive top-5 finishes. McIlroy was in the mix at the U.S. Open last month and is in prime position to end his seven-year winless drought in major championships.
Tyrrell Hatton (35-1)
Hatton was my offseason pick to win The Open at 33-1, and his odds have stayed in the same range due to some mediocre results since winning in Abu Dhabi to begin the year. Nonetheless, this major suits him the best – it's the only one where he's recorded a top-5 and he was T6 in 2019. Hatton should come in with some confidence after finishing T2 at the Palmetto Championship and closing with a final-round 65 at last week's Scottish Open.
Marc Leishman (60-1)
Leishman has historically played very well at The Open, nearly winning in 2015 when he lost in a playoff and notching three top-10s in eight appearances. He's trending in the right direction, coming off a third-place finish in his last start at the Travelers Championship, and he's already posted a top-5 in a major this year at The Masters.
Robert MacIntyre (6-1)
MacIntyre's lone major top-10 came at The Open in 2019 and the young Scottish golfer has never missed a cut in his six major championships. He's a long hitter with tremendous upside/potential and has a lot of experience playing on links courses. He posted a top-20 at last week's Scottish Open with four rounds in the 60s.
Matt Wallace (9-1)
We've been able to see a lot of Wallace on the PGA Tour this season, as the Englishman has transitioned from playing primarily overseas. He's flashed with a pair of top-10s and came up just short at the Valero Texas Open after holding the 54-hole lead. He's shown to be a great ball-striker with an all-around game and will be a solid dark horse back in his home country this week.
Gary Woodland (12-1)
The value is too good to pass up with Woodland here – he's historically played solid at The Open with only one missed cut in eight events and is only two years removed from winning a major. Although he went through a bit of a lull since, he's flashed with some solid golf that resulted in top-10s at the Valero and Wells Fargo.
Smith has shown the ability to elevate on the biggest stage, recording a top-5 in his major championship debut at age 21 and has three top-10s since. His only weakness tends to be mediocre driving play which shouldn't be a huge factor this week. Meanwhile, Ancer has minimal experience on links courses and has missed the cut in both of his starts at The Open.
Burns may appear risky due to making his Open Championship debut, but Kokrak hasn't shown much in majors with zero top-10s in 17 appearances. We also get Burns as the underdog and I don't think it would surprise many people if he was a top-10 player in the world a year from now. He ranks in the top-30 in both strokes-gained approach and putting this season – key factors this week.