Golf betting hits the third major of the season with the 142nd edition of The Open Championship taking place from Muirfield Golf Links in East Lothian, Scotland.
This is the 16th time Muirfield has hosted The Open Championship with the last coming in 1992. That year it was won by Ernie Els, who won in a four-hole playoff (still the playoff format) over Thomas Levet, Stuart Appleby and Steve Elkington. Els is also is the defending champion after defeating Adam Scott by one shot at Royal Lytham & St. Annes last year.
Muirfield is a Par-71, 7,192-yard track that has a very unique setup with one nine-hole layout situated inside another. The outside nine runs one way with the inside nine going the opposite direction which makes navigating the wind that much more difficult. Even though it is called a links course, it is not a traditional one. The holes are long but the fairways are firm, so hitting the ball low and straight will provide some opportunities to score. Hitting the ball offline will get you in trouble though.
Wind and rain are the norm when it comes to The Open Championship and that is certainly the case at Muirfield, where the weather off the Scottish coast can be brutal. That was evidenced back in 2002 when Saturday was played in some of the worst weather possible and scores averaged 74.6 - over four shots more than any of the other three days. This year though, the forecast is pretty tame with light winds and high temperatures. But Mother Nature can always take a turn.
While the thought is that the majors are dominated by the world's best players, it has hardly been the case. Of the last 19 majors, there have been 18 different winners with Rory McIlroy being the only two-time major champion.
Not since 2008 has there been a repeat major winner. Padraig Harrington is the last player to do so, winning The Open Championship and PGA Championship back-to-back. It will be up to Justin Rose this week to break that streak after capturing his first major at the U.S. Open last month.
American players had won three straight majors after Webb Simpson's victory at the 2012 U.S. Open but are zero for their last four. Since 1995 at St. Andrews, Americans have won 11 of the 18 Open Championships. However, recent history is not on their side as Stewart Cink is the lone American to win The Open Championship over the last six years in a playoff over Tom Watson at Turnberry in 2009.
As mentioned, the defending champion is Els (+2,800) who also was the winner the last time Muirfield hosted The Open Championship. Those two victories have a lot of people excited for Ernie to win again and he is getting solid odds to go along with that. However, it is difficult to repeat. Els could be in the mix over the weekend, there are better options out there.
Is favorite Tiger Woods (+700) one of those options? Personally I don't think so, especially at this price. His major drought is well documented and, while he is going to win another one at some point, this isn't the one. He has been playing great this year no doubt and he has three Open Championship wins but his injured elbow is a concern no matter how healthy he says it is.
Jason Day (+2,500) is my top pick this week despite his lackluster record here. His first Open Championship resulted in a T60 in 2010 and he then finished T30 the next year before not competing in 2012. His majors record since then has been spectacular with a third at the Masters and a T2 at the U.S. Open. He played his practice round at Muirfield Monday with no woods in his bag, which is the way to win.
Lee Westwood (+2,800) continues to disappoint when it comes to majors and not being able to secure one. He has 15 Top 10s in major tournaments for his career including nine Top 5s and seven Top 3. There are not many players that have been closer without winning and he is very due. At The Open Championship, he has three Top-4 finishes, including a solo second in 2010.
Only one player has finished in the Top 15 in the last three Open Championships and that is Dustin Johnson (+4,000). His T14 in 2010 was followed up with a T2 in 2011 and a T9 last year, so he clearly has played well on the other side of the pond. He’s known for being a bomber but he is a great player in the wind and the different gusts and directions could benefit him more than anyone.
Nicolas Colsaerts (+5,000) has made only two Open Championship appearances but one of those came last year when he finished T7. He is the longest hitter on tour and keeping those big hits straight will put him in contention. He has just three Top 10s this year but one of those came at the U.S. Open. He has not lived up to the hype since his play at the Ryder Cup but this could be his breakout.
Thorbjorn Olesen (+10,000) will be a big long-shot play this week but contains incredible value. He won in Europe last year at the Sicilian Open and since then, he has six other Top-6 finishes, including three this year. His PGA Tour record is not great but his T6 at the Masters can’t be discounted. After missing the cut in his inaugural Open Championship in 2011, he finished T9 last year. Recommended tournament win five pack at The Open Championship (all for one unit)
Jason Day (+2,500)
Lee Westwood (+2,800)
Dustin Johnson (+4,000)
Nicolas Colsaerts (+5,000)
Thorbjorn Olesen (+10,000)
2012 Record to date after 36 events: +51.6 Units
2013 Record to date after 27 events: -40.4 Units
Hyundai Tournament of Champions -5 Units
Sony Open in Hawaii -5 Units
Humana Challenge - 5 Units
Farmer Insurance Open +3.5 Units
Waste Management Phoenix Open +19 Units
AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am -5 Units
Northern Trust Open -5 Units
WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship +25.66 units
The Honda Classic -5 Units
WGC-Cadillac Championship -5 Units
Tampa Bay Championship -5 Units
Arnold Palmer Invitational -1.5 Units
Shell Houston Open -5 Units
The Masters -8 Units
RBC Heritage +27 Units
Zurich Classic of New Orleans -5 Units
The Wells Fargo Championship -5 Units
THE PLAYERS Championship -5 Units
HP Byron Nelson Championship -5 Units
Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial -5 Units
Memorial Tournament -5 Units
FedEx St. Jude Classic -5 Units
U.S. Open -6 Units
Travelers Championship -5 Units
AT&T National -5 Units
Greenbrier Classic -5 Units
John Deere Classic -5 Units