Betting the British Open? What to Watch the Next 2 Weeks
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There are just two weeks to go until the final major championship of the year and the European Tour spends that fortnight enjoying the perfect preparation – on Irish and Scottish linksland. Here are four things to look out for ahead of assembling your betting plan for the big event at Royal Portrush.
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Irish Open Has Become A Solid Pointer
Since the European Tour created the Rolex Series the Irish Open has been an integral part of it and has sat in this slot, two weeks before the British Open.
In both of those two renewals the promoters have been sure to take the tournament to linksland and that has guaranteed them a good field, but also allowed those golfers to drop a few hints and there is no reason not to think that this week’s venue, Lahinch, will be any different.
In fact, given that the British Open is back in Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951 it might be even more relevant than ever.
Two years ago, Matthew Southgate was second at Portstewart ahead of finishing sixth at Royal Birkdale. With so many places paid out these days that would have earned a tasty each-way return.
Similarly, last year Erik Van Rooyen led by four after 54 holes at Ballyliffin and then had another experience of peaking early in the British Open at Carnoustie, tied second after 18 holes. But for Kevin Kisner holing a couple of lengthy late putts, Van Rooyen would have earned a tie for the first-round lead at huge prices, but the place paid handsomely anyway.
Scottish Open a Confirmed Form Guide
Back in 2013 Phil Mickelson won the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart despite the long-winded sniggers of the television commentators, who viewed his insistence on hitting flop shots as something akin to moral degeneracy.
No matter, he proved his new found links form by winning the British Open the following week at Muirfield. Three years later he was bested at Royal Troon by Henrik Stenson, who a week earlier opened his Scottish Open account (again at Castle Stuart) with a poor 76 but then charged home to claim T13th. Anyone who took note would have bagged another British Open winner.
In more recent times, Rafa Cabrera Bello won the 2016 Scottish Open at Dundonald Links then ventured down to Royal Birkdale and claimed a tie for fourth, a handy payout if you backed him. And just last year Eddie Pepperell was tied second in Gullane at the Scottish Open and then tied sixth a week later at Carnoustie, like Cabrera Bello, a fruitful back either each-way or in the top-10 markets.
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The Unlikely Doha Link
At first glance Doha GC, which hosts the Qatar Masters, has little in common with a links golf course. But the track is very windy and calls for tight control of ball flight, a facet of the game which almost every British Open also tests. Perhaps that explains why golfers who make the top 10 there, and then also show a bit of form on the linksland, have a fine record in the British major.
We’ve already noted Pepperell’s tied sixth last year – he won in Doha too. We also noted Cabrera Bello’s tied fourth in 2017 – he was tied fourth in the desert. In 2016 Andrew “Beef” Johnston was tied fourth at the Qatar Masters and tied eighth in the British Open. Sergio Garcia won in Doha in 2014 and was then second at Hoylake.
Going further back, Paul Lawrie won the Qatar Masters ahead of winning the British Open at Carnoustie in 1999 – who did he chase down (both times no less)? Jean Van de Velde! Adam Scott, Ernie Els and Henrik Stenson are British Open champions who had won in Doha, Thomas Bjorn nearly joined them, so too did Chris Wood.
The Even More Unlikely Deere Run Clues
While many believe that a week on the links is the best preparation for their quest for the Claret Jug, others are simply happy to find form wherever. Those who stay on the PGA Tour and play at TPC Deere Run are often mocked, and yet the evidence suggests it’s not a completely hare-brained scheme.
In 2015 Jordan Spieth was seeking the third leg of the Grand Slam, warmed up with victory in the John Deere Classic, and he finished just one shot outside the play-off at St Andrews. The man who won in extra holes – Zach Johnson – had been tied third at Deere Run.
Last year Francesco Molinari was tied second at Deere Run, and just seven days later he outgunned Tiger Woods on the back nine to win his first major championship. Links form matters; form in the wind is important – and so, too, is going low the previous week.
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About the Author
Matt Cooper has been a golf journalist for more than a decade, covering every aspect of the sport for a wide range of publications, including Sky Sports, NBC, Golf365 and ESPN.