2013 British Open Picks with Golf Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 7/16/2013
Yet another first-time winner on the PGA Tour last week at the John Deere Classic, although I think it's pretty clear that 19-year-old Jordan Spieth won't be stuck on one career win whenever he retires. This kid is going to be a major force on the Tour barring injury or David Duval syndrome. Spieth beat defending champion Zach Johnson and David Hearn in a playoff to become the first teenage winner on Tour in 82 years. Spieth earned full Tour membership with the win and a spot in this week's British Open, among other big events (2014 Masters). He holed out brilliantly from a bunker on No. 18 to force his way into the playoff. I didn't pick Spieth to win, and I certainly won't be this week. Since 1934, just 10 players have followed a win with a major championship title the next week.
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I hit on two Top-10 props at the John Deere, Johnson (+125) and Steve Stricker (-165). Head-to-head, I scored on Johnson (-105) over Keegan Bradley and Brendon de Jonge (-155) over Jonas Blixt. I went with Louis Oosthuizen to win, but he missed the cut.
So now the spotlight shifts to the British Open at Muirfield in Scotland. It's one of the world's oldest courses and claims to be the source of the earliest written rules of golf, which date back to 1744. You know pre-USA. Jack Nicklaus liked the course so much that he called his design in Dublin, Ohio, “Muirfield”.
First off, never call it the British Open when overseas. They get offended. It's The Open Championship. In a bit of an oddity, South Africa's Ernie Els is a defending champion times two. He was the beneficiary of Adam Scott's four-hole meltdown at the end of his round last year at Lytham, with Els winning his second Claret Jug. His first came when the Open last visited Muirfield in 2002. Els is the first player since Greg Norman in 1994 to be the defending champion and the last winner at the links where the Open was played. The Shark finished T11 that year.
Want to know why I absolutely love the Open Championship? Well, obviously it's where golf began and, I claim, still how it should be played -- on links courses. The tracks in America look great, but it's cookie-cutter golf. It's also great that the TV coverage for the Open starts at like 4 a.m. Eastern. You can finish watching a day's action by just past lunchtime. But easily the top reason is the weather. To say it's usually unpredictable over there is being rather kind.
In 2002, the weather was a major factor on Saturday as it was cold, windy and rainy. Tiger Woods was going for a potential calendar Grand Slam, having won the Masters and U.S. Open, but his chances evaporated with a third-round 81, his highest score as a pro. Otherwise Tiger played great that weekend, including closing with a 65. Els beat Thomas Levet, Stuart Appleby and Steve Elkington in a playoff. The Open Championship's playoff is four holes aggregate, but that one had to go five between Levet and Els. It was the first Open decided by a sudden-death playoff. The weather report looks good in terms of little rain and temperatures in the 60s this week. Weather reports don't mean much in Scotland, however. It will be windy.
Golf Odds: British Open Favorites
To no surprise, Tiger is the 8/1 favorite at Bovada. He remains stuck without a major since the 2008 U.S. Open and hasn't won the Open Championship since '06. He was third a year ago, his best finish since his last Open win. Woods hasn't played an official round since Sunday at the U.S. Open because of an elbow injury. I'm not saying Tiger is a drama queen, but I'm saying Tiger is drama queen. He'd love nothing more than to win after an "injury." Tiger didn't play well at the Memorial or U.S. Open, so I'm not sold on him quite yet.
Justin Rose and Phil Mickelson are 16/1. The Englishman Rose, of course, won the U.S. Open, which means there's almost no chance he wins the tournament he wants the most. You just don't win consecutive majors unless you are a golf god. Rose is very good but not quite there. Just six players have won the U.S. Open and British Open in the same year: Tiger, Tom Watson, Lee Trevino, Ben Hogan, Gene Sarazen and Bobby Jones. Pretty good group there.
I don't know what to make of Lefty. He just doesn't seem to play links golf well because he's wild off the tee. He has a second and third at the British Open but usually isn't in contention. However, I think he may have put the U.S. Open disappointment behind him with last week's win at the Scottish Open. Mickelson was 66th in 2002 at Muirfield.
Adam Scott (20/1) and Graeme McDowell (22/1) round out the Top 5. Scott won the Masters to put last year's British Open collapse behind him. However, he's not playing all that well since. He missed the cut at the '02 British Open. There's a lot to like about McDowell. He has won three times this year around the world, and an Irishman has prevailed in this tournament three of the past six years. McDowell had struggled at the Open Championship before last year's fifth-place finish.
Golf Odds: British Open Picks
The British Open is known to have very off-the-chart winners. Els is obviously a Hall of Famer, but his 2012 win was unexpected. Ditto Darren Clarke in 2011, Oosthuizen in 2010, Stewart Cink in 2009 and major one-hit wonder Todd Hamilton in 2004. Cink is the only American to win the Claret Jug since Tiger went back-to-back in 2005-06. However, a list of golf stars have prevailed at the past seven Opens at Muirfield: Els, Nick Faldo (twice), Tom Watson, Lee Trevino, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.
There are tons of props for this tournament, so I will skip Top 10 and head-to-head this week. I do think there will be a playoff, which is +250 with “no” at -350. I also like the winner to come from Great Britain & Ireland at +300 (USA the +140 favorite). Take Watson at 7/1 as the top senior player. He's playing well this year and always does at the British Open. I like Jason Day (11/5) over Scott (even money) for top Aussie. There's a “yes”-only prop on Tiger having another round of at least 80. Can't recommend that at +2500. That he shoots an eagle all four days is +5000.
Finally, I would take the Big 6 of Tiger, Rose, Scott, Mickelson, McDowell and Rory McIlroy at +200 against the field -275. Why? I believe McDowell is your winner. At the same time, McIlroy (25/1) wouldn't shock me even though he's not having a good year.
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