2011 British Open Odds and Golf Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 7/13/2011
In my opinion, the beauty of the British Open is threefold: 1) You can get up super early in the morning U.S. time and be able to watch major championship golf; 2) It seems there are always guys that come out of nowhere to compete and frequently win. Just since 2003 players like Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink, Todd Hamilton (whatever happened to him?) and Ben Curtis won; all four are likely one-hit wonders; 3) The style of links golf, and often the unpredictable weather across the pond make it a test most Americans aren’t used to.
Yet despite reason No. 3, an American has won this tournament 11 times since 1995 (Tiger Woods, who of course is sidelined for this year’s event, taking three of those). An Englishman has not won the Open Championship since Nick Faldo in 1992. In fact, a European has won this only three times since 1993 and Padraig Harrington accounts for two of those three in 2007 and 2008.
Thus, I would say there are three overriding storylines this week at Royal St. George’s in Sandwich, England: 1) How Rory McIlroy will play now that he’s the clear big dog in golf following his record-breaking U.S. Open victory; 2) Whether an American will ever win a major again. We haven’t since Phil Mickelson’s 2010 Masters, the longest drought in the Grand Slam era (since 1934); 3) Whether an Englishman will win on home soil. The top two players in the world are from England in Luke Donald and Lee Westwood, but neither has won a major.
British Open Golf Odds: How About the Americans?
Remember back in April 2010 when Mickelson won his third green jacket and fourth major championship overall with a memorable final-round comeback at Augusta? Lefty was supposed to supplant Tiger as the world’s top golfer and add a few more majors to an already Hall of Fame resume.
But Mickelson has only one victory anywhere since then, at this year’s Houston Open the week before the Masters, and he hasn’t been much of a factor in the majors since then. Yeah, he had a T4 at last year’s U.S. Open and T12 at the 2010 PGA Championship, but was never really a true threat to win. This year, he has been nothing short of disappointing with a T27 at the Masters and T54 at the U.S. Open.
Lefty isn’t even the highest-ranked American anymore, as that honor belongs to Steve Stricker. And Mickelson doesn’t seem like a good bet this week even though those 40/1 Bodog odds to win look tempting. For some reason, the links courses (more so the wind) don’t seem to suit Mickelson. He has just one Top-10 finish in 17 British Open appearances. His best finish at the Open was third in 2004, and he was 59th the last time it was played at Royal St. George’s in 2003. Last year at St. Andrews he finished tied for 48th.
Stricker has the lowest odds to win among Americans at 33/1, and he is one of only four players who enter off a win (the others being Nick Watney, Luke Donald and McIlroy). Stricker won the John Deere Classic last week in Illinois for the third year in a row. Only eight players had won the same event three straight times since 1940. Stricker has yet to win a major, however. And he hasn’t been particularly good at the Open. He has two Top-10 finishes in 11 starts and finished 55th and 52nd the past two years. Stricker’s last Top 5 at a major was way back in 1999.
If you are going to bet on the top American finisher prop, take Watney at 8/1 (33/1 to win). Yes, Watney wasn’t great at the Masters and missed the cut at the U.S. Open, but he followed that with a victory at the AT&T National, which was his last event. He has eight Top-10 finishes this year, including another win at the WGC-Cadillac. Watney has gotten progressively better at the Open, going from 35th in his first event in 2007 to seventh last year.
British Open Golf Predictions: So Who Wins?
The European contingent, which holds down the Top 4 spots in the world rankings, looks simply too strong not to have the winner come from McIlroy, Donald, Westwood or Germany’s Martin Kaymer. Thus, the winner coming from Europe is a good bet at -162.
It’s awfully hard to bet against McIlroy (13/2) right now; do you realize he has led at the conclusion of seven of the eight rounds in this year’s majors? And don’t forget he finished third last year at the British Open despite a second-round 80. But it’s just too hard to win back-to-back majors, and Rory probably will be a bit rusty after having not played since the U.S. Open.
Both Westwood and Donald are at 11/1 to win, and I think one of those two does raise the Claret Jug. Donald has won three times this season, including last week at the Scottish Open. But it’s pretty darn hard to win back-to-back weeks as well. Thus, I like Westwood, who could take back the No. 1 ranking from Donald this week. Westwood finished third at the Open two years ago and second last year. In a way, Westwood is being a little overlooked with the McIlroy hype machine going and Donald playing so well. And Westwood did win twice at Royal St. George’s as an amateur. Donald is the slight favorite at 13/8 to be top Englishman with Westwood at 3/2. So you can double up there or cover yourself by taking Donald on that prop.
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