2014 British Open Picks with Betting Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 7/15/2014
Freaking Brian Harman! It looked like my 2014 winner's drought would finally end last week at the John Deere Classic. I went with Zach Johnson, who is from nearby Des Moines. Johnson shook off a recent slump to shoot 21-under, which wins this tournament every other year but three. Alas, Harman was better by one shot to take his first PGA Tour victory in his 88th career start. Some compare Harman (5-foot-7) to Jim Furyk because he's such a little guy who plays gritty golf.
Harman began his round Sunday with a one-shot lead over three-time John Deere winner Steve Stricker, with Harman then grabbing hold of the event with an eagle on the par-5 second. Harman shot a final-round 66 to become the 20th first-time winner at the John Deere all time. Amazingly, he's also the seventh former University of Georgia player to win this year. Guess I better look up who else went there before picking another winner. Harman earned the final spot in the British Open with his victory. It was Johnson's third runner-up finish at the tournament and second straight.
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I had a good tournament otherwise. I hit on Johnson at +110 for a Top-10 finish as well as defending champion Jordan Spieth at -110 and Ryan Moore at +180. Those two each tied for seventh. Head-to-head, I hit on Spieth at even money over Stricker (he dropped to T11 after a final-round 72), Johnson at -110 over Stricker, and Moore (-115) over Harris English.
So let's see if I can carry some of that positive momentum into the 143rd British Open, which is being held at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake, England. It's the second-oldest course in the country. I personally love watching these guys play links golf in the wind and the rain. When the Open Championship was here last in 2006, Tiger Woods won his second straight British Open and 11th major overall, beating out Chris DiMarco by two shots. It was as emotional as you will see Woods as it came only a few months after his father passed away. It was hot and dry that weekend so the course played much shorter than its listed 7,258 yards. Tiger, who finished at 18 under, used a driver once. Yet he was still a combined 14 under on the par 5s. Royal Liverpool will play only 54 yards longer this time, but it's going to be much softer.
Of course, this is Tiger's first major championship of the year after missing the Masters and U.S. Open following back surgery. A total of 24 majors have passed now since Woods won his last, the 2008 U.S. Open. That's more than two times as long as his next-longest drought without winning one.
While Tiger's return is story No. 1, the chances of Phil Mickelson repeating is No. 2. Lefty is looking to be the first player to repeat at the Open Championship since Padraig Harrington in 2007-08. I'm not overly confident on that fact considering Mickelson doesn't have a single Top-10 finish anywhere in the world yet in 2014 and is struggling mightily with his putter. It's the first time Lefty will enter this tournament without a win since 2003. Mickelson was 22nd at Royal Liverpool in 2006, and his track record overall in the British Open is not good. Last year might have been a fluke. That was also the third straight year a guy at least 42 years old won it. Only two winners on the PGA Tour this year were at least 40.
By the way, the players won't be betting on themselves this week. In a move believed to be a first, according to ESPN, R&A officials have required competitors to sign a waiver stating they will not place wagers on the championship. Of course, betting is prevalent and very legal in the UK.
Golf Odds: British Open Favorites
Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy are the co-14/1 favorites at Bovada. Rose is playing out of his mind right now, with wins in his last two starts: the Quicken Loans National on the PGA Tour and last week's Scottish Open -- Mickelson used a win there last year as springboard at Muirfield. For some reason, Rose flat-out stinks in the Open Championship. His only Top-10 came back in 1998 as an amateur. He hasn't been better than 44th in the past four. An Englishman hasn't won the British Open since 1992 (Nick Faldo).
McIlroy is having a fine year outside of Fridays. His Round 1 scoring average of 68.15 this year is No. 1 in the world. His second-round average is 72.23. Last week, he shot out to the lead with an opening 64 then followed with a 78. McIlroy admits the Friday issues are "in his head." Outside of third-place finish in 2010, McIlroy also struggles in the British Open.
World No. 1 Adam Scott (16/1), Henrik Stenson (16/1) and Tiger (18/1) round out the favorites. Mickelson is 20/1 with Martin Kaymer. Scott was T8 in 2006 at Royal Liverpool and has finished third and second (when he gave away the 2012 Open to Ernie Els) the past two years at this tournament. Stenson was a runner-up to Mickelson last year. Stenson has Top-7 finishes in his last four starts this year around the world.
Golf Odds: 2014 British Open Picks and Predictions
There are hundreds of props available at Bovada, so I recommend you go check them out as I can't possibly touch on them all. Maybe McIlroy is worth 20/1 to be the first-round leader. Usually I stay clear of that one, however. I like "yes" there will be a hole in one at -115 but can't recommend the +800 yes-only prop that there will be an albatross (double eagle). I'm also putting some money down on Tiger to miss the cut at +220 as I simply don't think he's ready yet. You can get cut props on many of the big names. Mickelson is +300 to miss, and that might not be a bad idea, either.
On Top-10 props, I like McIlroy (+135), Scott (+150), Stenson (+150), Lee Westwood (+325) and Sergio Garcia (+225). I think Rose peaked too early. Head-to-head, take Westwood (-110) over Thomas Bjorn (-120), Tom Watson (-140) over John Daly (+110 -- I love this prop), Sergio (even) over Kaymer (-130) and Sergio (-115) over Tiger (-115). Go Lefty (-170) over Woods (+130) and McIlroy (-115) over Rose (-115). I like Dustin Johnson (14/1) as the top American, Sergio (-125) as the top Spaniard, Els (11/4) as the top South African and Westwood (6/1) as the top Englishman. Scott (3/1) as top rest of the world.
I'm going to hedge my bet on a winner. I like a European at +110 because there's so much depth there. However, I'm going with the Aussie Scott on an individual wager to take home the Claret Jug he deserved in '12. The rest of the world being the winning nationality is +400, but there's not much depth behind Scott and Jason Day. Scott is one of seven players who have finished in the top 15 at each of this year's first two majors. Scott has made the cut at his last 12 majors and has been in the Top 15 in 10 of them.
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