Dustin Johnson has been the big market mover for the 2016 Open Championship.
The world’s top golfers return to Royal Troon next week for the 145th edition of the Open Championship and if past results at this historic links course are anything to go by, we could be in for another American winner.
Americans have lifted the Claret Jug on the last six occasions the Open has been held at Troon, most recently in 2004 when Todd Hamilton shocked the golfing world by beating Ernie Els in a playoff after starting the week as a 500/1 outsider. Previous winners were a little easier to find with Justin Leonard, Mark Calcavecchia and Tom Watson – household names in comparison – being crowned Champion Golfer, and it’s not too hard to imagine Dustin Johnson adding his name to that illustrious list.
Having been a regular contender at golf’s biggest tournaments only to somehow always find a way to lose, DJ finally shook the Major monkey off his back at the 2016 US Open, overcoming a four-shot deficit at the start of the final to finish three clear. He’s since bagged the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, closing the deal with a couple of 66s, and bookmakers have been quick to cut his odds on him landing a hat-trick of victories in a Major that has been good to him: he hasn’t missed the cut in six straight appearances, arguably should have won in 2011 at St George’s and was tied-ninth the following year to go with two further top-20s.
The man from South Carolina is now a best-priced 9/1 for Troon and is even challenging world number one Jason Day for favouritism with some firms – BetVictor go 8/1 the pair, with former world number one Jordan Spieth and former Open winner Rory McIlroy at 9/1. It’s 20/1 bar the ‘big four’ wherever you bet and that surely means there is plenty of each-way value to be had – and especially at Paddy Power, who are paying out on eight places (albeit at one fifth the odds), and Boylesports (six places and one quarter the odds). More firms will no doubt follow suit in the days ahead.
A few names jump out at this stage and they include Adam Scott, who famously blew a four-stroke lead with four holes to play in the 2012 Open, bogeying them all and, after Ernie Els had birdied the last, losing by one. The Aussie eased the pain somewhat by winning a playoff for the 2013 Masters and went on to finish tied third in that year’s Open Championship at Muirfield, followed by a tied fifth at Royal Liverpool 12 months later and a tied tenth at St Andrews last year. A dual winner on the PGA Tour this season and tied tenth at Firestone on Sunday (closed with a 68), he looks almost certain to contend for the Claret Jug next week.
Last year’s winner Zach Johnson is a tempting 50/1 with Paddy Power given their place terms. He has yet to really fire this season having changed his clubs for the start of 2016, but a 69-65 finish at Firestone suggests he’s peaking at just the right time. He finished in a tie for tenth with Branden Grace and the South African is another worth considering – Boylesports offer 30/1 – as he is becoming a regular feature on Major leaderboards with best place finishes of fourth and third at last year’s US Open and PGA respectively. One of his seven European Tour wins came in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, where he opened with a 12-under 60, so Troon should hold no terrors for him.
I’ll be firming up my selections for the Open Championship early next week – watch this space – but the following four players all merit serious consideration at this stage.