What are the best bets in this week's Open Championship at Troon?
Having already nominated four players who might contend for this week’s Open Championship at Troon, I’m now going to firm up my outright selections as well as nominate a couple of players worth supporting in other markets at decent prices.
First and foremost, have your biggest bet on Dustin Johnson this week, if you’re not already on. DJ is in the form of his life and is a very accomplished links player. He really should have won in 2011 when finishing second to Darren Clarke and that followed that up with a tied-9th 12 months later. He’s been honing his skills in Ireland and there are no doubts over him getting over the line in a Major having got that particular monkey off his back with a gutsy win at Oakmont last month. He’s nailed on to contend.
I talked up the chances of Branden Grace last week and I was feeling even more confident after his first two rounds at the Scottish Open. It was disappointing to see him fall away at the weekend but he was out in the worst of the conditions on Saturday and has figured right to the end in three of the last four Majors. He loves links golf with five of his European Tour wins have come on such a layout, so there is plenty to like about his chances.
Adam Scott is a regular on Open leaderboards and really should have won one by now – he frittered away a four-shot lead in the 2012 renewal when gifting Ernie Els his second Claret Jug and has since posted two further top-five finishes. Having showed his mettle to land the 2013 Masters in a playoff, he’s less likely to fold under pressure this week and he arrives here in good nick with a couple of Tour wins in 2016. It’s hard to see him not contending again.
The stats pick is Graeme McDowell and he’s too big a price to ignore. Nine of the last ten Open winners had posted a top-six Open finish previously – he finished fifth in 2012 to go with three other top-20s – and five of the last six winners had contested the Scottish Open – G Mac played nicely for a tied-10th spot last week. Just for good measure, he won the 2010 US Open at Pebble Beach, which is the closest the Americans have to a links layout. If his putter gets hot, he surely won’t be far away.
Americans have won the last six Opens staged at Troon and DJ aside, that stat tips me into supporting Jim Furyk, who has shown a liking for links golf and can boast three top-five Open finishes. Back to form after a spell out through injury, as evidenced by a fine second in the US Open, he’s a nice each-way price. And so is his compatriot Patrick Reed, who finished 20th at St Andrews 12 months ago and finished last week’s Scottish Open off in style with a couple of 67s for a share of tenth place.
Last week’s winner Alex Noren also makes it into the staking plan as he’s clearly swinging sweetly and does have a couple of top-20 Open finishes in his CV. He’s injury-prone but is a class act when healthy and that also applies to last week’s third Matteo Manessero, whose best Open finish was 13th in 2009. He may well better that this week.
Unless you’re a regular follower of the European Tour, you won’t have heard of Callum Shinkwin. However, the young Englishman has been making a name for himself in recent starts, with a fine 19th at the Irish Open in May being followed by top-10s in France and Inverness last week. He’s making his Open debut this week but his tail is up, clearly handles links golf well and could reward each-way support in the Top Englishman market. Alternatively, back him for a top-20 finish.
A word of caution. The last time the Open was played here we had an unfathomable 500/1 winner in Todd Hamilton. Let’s hope the bookmakers are not left celebrating such a result again but, if lightning were to strike twice, a possible candidate is the lesser known American Tony Finau. He’s certainly long enough off the tee to turn most of the par-fours this week into a drive and a wedge shot, and a couple are driveable. He won the Puerto Rico Open earlier this season in 25mph winds, so he’s better equipped than some to handle the conditions, though the current weather forecast suggests we are in for a relatively calm week.
Finally, if you decide to wait and bet in-play (a smart ploy, perhaps?), the advice is to not look too far down the leaderboard after the opening round. Only one of the last 12 winners has been outside the top-10 at the the close of play on Thursday and five strokes adrift is as far off the lead than any winner’s been this century.
Dustin Johnson @ 9/1 Boylesports (money back as a free bet if 2nd or 3rd including ties)
Adam Scott each-way @ 22/1 Paddy Power (1/5 odds, 8 places)
Branden Grace each-way @ 33/1 Ladbrokes (1/4 odds, 6 places)
Patrick Reed each-way @ 60/1 Paddy Power (1/5 odds, 8 places)
Jim Furyk each-way @ 90/1 Boylesports (1/4 odds, 6 places)
Alex Noren each-way @ 100/1 Coral (1/4 odds, 7 places)
Matteo Manassero each-way @ 175/1 Paddy Power (1/5 odds, 8 places) / Top-10 Finish @ 20/1 BetVictor
Callum Shinkwin Top Englishman each-way @ 33/1 Betfred (1/5 odds, 4 places) / Top-20 Finish @ 11/1 Betfred
Tony Finau each-way @ 350/1 Sky Bet (1/4 odds, 7 places) / Top American each-way @ 125/1 BetVictor (1/ 4 odds, 4 places)