The oldest major championship in golf arrives this weekend at Royal Lytham St. Anne in England for the 141st Open Championship – don’t you dare refer to it as the “British Open” if you are heading across the pond by chance. As I do here at Doc’s with all big tournaments, I will take a look first at some interesting prop options among the hundreds of choices at Bovada for the third major of the year.
Let’s start with some head-to-head props I like at the site. There are two involving tournament favorite Tiger Woods: Tiger (-130) vs. Lee Westwood (EVEN) and Tiger (-160) vs. Rory McIlroy (+125).
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Since winning his third and last British Open in 2006, Woods has only played in three Open Championships (missing 2008 and ’11 due to injury) and hasn’t finished in the Top 10. Westwood missed the cut last year but had a second and a third the year before. This guy is a machine in major championships (see the overall Open Championship preview for more on that). Tiger enters off a missed cut in West Virginia (which followed a win at Congressional), but I think he was just there to pick up a check and he wasn’t all that focused on winning. Westwood hasn’t missed a cut on the PGA Tour this year and was last seen finishing T10 at the U.S. Open. I love him vs. Tiger.
As for McIlroy, his game is a mess. He did play pretty well recently at the Irish Open (10th), but he missed four cuts in five previous tournaments (one on the Euro Tour). Take Tiger there. McIlroy is the 3/2 favorite to be the highest-finishing Irish player this week, but I favor Graeme McDowell there at 3/1. He’s one of those grinders who plays well in bad weather, which looks to be the case this week. He has three runner-up finishes this year (one on Euro Tour) and is overdue a victory. But you have to take Westwood as the top Great Britain and Ireland player at 4/1 (McDowell is 9/1 on British Open odds).
Will there be a hole-in-one this week? “Yes” is even with “no” at -138. For my predictions, I always like yes on this prop with so much talent in a major field. If it’s going to happen, it probably will be the 165-yard par-3 ninth, the shortest hole on the course. Ireland’s Paul McGinley aced this hole during the second round in 1996. Frank Lickliter aced the 219-yard par-3 fifth in 2001. And Lanny Wadkins aced No. 1 in 1988 – so there’s been at least one I can find in each of the past three visits to Royal Lytham.
Will there be a playoff this year? No is -350 with yes at +250. At the British Open, there is a four-hole playoff if necessary. I like yes here because the Open tends to have more playoffs than any of the majors: Since 1995 there have been seven of them, last in 2009 when Stewart Cink won at Turnberry. There have been two at Royal Lytham: 1958 and 1963.
You can also bet on the winning margin, with a “playoff” and “one shot” both as +250 favorites. The past two years, won by Darren Clarke and Louis Oosthuizen, were blowouts for the most part, especially Oosthuizen’s. I’d still go playoff on this, but you could always cover your bet on the playoff prop above with one shot here. The longest odds on the board is a win by three shots, which Clarke did last year. Duval won by three shots in the last trip to Royal Lytham.
Starting in 1995 when John Daly won the Open at St. Andrews, an American has won this tournament 11 times. But since Tiger’s third win in ’06, only that ’09 tournament with Cink saw an American champion. Still, a USA player holding the Claret Jug on Sunday is a +175 favorite. I would take Great Britain & Ireland at +200. The best value is easily a continental European at +450 as you get guys like Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer and Francesco Molinari.
Perhaps my favorite prop is betting on what one of the big-name guys scores on his first hole Thursday (all groups go off on the first hole). The first hole is a 205-yard par-3, with the green surrounded by pot bunkers. This hole is unique as it’s the only opening par-3 among the courses that rotate hosting the Open Championship. It also amazingly hasn’t been altered since ’01. You can bet on the first-hole scores of McIlroy, Tiger, Lefty, Donald and Westwood: All have par as the -175 favorite with bogey or worse at +333 and birdie or better at +350.
A lot could depend on the weather as to how the hole plays. According to the official Open site, it will play anywhere between a 7-iron and a hybrid depending on the strength and direction of the wind. The wind doesn’t look to be too bad on Thursday, although it will be rainy, but if anyone lands in one of those bunkers, a bogey is very much in play. And that’s the bet I would make on any of these guys if that props interests you.
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