2015 British Open Picks: Odds and Expert Golf Betting Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 7/14/2015
I have no problem admitting when I am flat-out wrong, and boy was I wrong at last week's John Deere Classic in Illinois. I questioned why world No. 2 Jordan Spieth was even playing instead of being overseas and either practicing for the British Open at the Old Course at St. Andrews or at least competing in the Scottish Open to get used to links golf.
Each of the past five Open Champions played the Scottish Open the week before his win. The last guy to play the John Deere Classic the week before winning the British was one-hit wonder Todd Hamilton in 2004. I figured Spieth wouldn't be all that focused at the John Deere, but kudos to him for being loyal to a tournament that always has treated him well and that he won two years ago his first PGA Tour victory. Spieth won again Sunday, beating someone named Tom Gillis on the second hole of a playoff for his fourth victory of the season. I gave Spieth just about no shot before the tournament and even less of one after he shot a first-round 71. So all he did was shoot a combined 20 under over the next three days.
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It was Spieth's fifth career win, and he is now just one shy of Tiger Woods' record for most PGA Tour victories before the age of 22. Spieth turns 22 on July 27, meaning he can tie him with a win at St. Andrews. However, only 11 players have won on the PGA Tour the week before winning a major. The last was Rory last summer before the PGA Championship. Spieth already has earned more FedEx Cup points during any Tour season under the current format (which dates to 2009) than any player ever.
Gillis, 46, was trying to become the oldest first-time winner on the PGA Tour in 20 years. At least he earned a British Open spot with his finish. My pick to win was Zach Johnson, and I wasn't exactly far off as Johnson finished third, just a shot out of the playoff. So I got him on a Top 10 at -135 along with Justin Thomas at +300. I also got a playoff at +275 as the winning margin, so the week wasn't a total loss.
So now it's off to the home of golf, St. Andrews, for the British Open -- golf's oldest tournament -- and obviously Spieth is the top storyline as he looks to win the third leg of the calendar-year Grand Slam. No one has done that since a pretty good golfer named Ben Hogan in 1953. In addition, Spieth can take the world No. 1 ranking from McIlroy, who of course isn't playing this week due to his ankle injury. Spieth would only become No. 1 with a win. He had played at St. Andrews just once prior to this week, just before the 2011 Walker Cup.
The last time the British Open was held at St. Andrews was 2010, and South African Louis Oosthuizen won at 16-under 272. Oosthuizen led over the final 48 holes and won by seven shots. We could be looking at another mini-rout here. Including Oosthuizen's win here, eight of the last 20 majors, three at The Open, have been won by a differential of at least three strokes.
The Old Course this week apparently will look less like a links course than last month's U.S. Open at Chambers Bay as it's quite green with more grass and less bounciness than usual. That should mean a ton of scoring -- some think the all-time major championship best round of 63 is in jeopardy. It's too bad McIlroy can't play because the conditions seem to suit him perfectly, and he shot a 63 here in the first round in 2010 before a second-round 80 when the wind kicked up. McIlroy is the only player in the Top 80 of the world rankings not playing. This will also be the final British Open appearance for Tom Watson.
If you are wondering, only three players have made the cut at the past five British Opens: Dustin Johnson, Adam Scott and Zach Johnson. That stat totally shocked me. Only three? Tiger Woods has won two of his three Claret Jugs at St. Andrews.
Golf Odds: British Open Favorites
Dustin Johnson is next at +1100, and I honestly am rooting for the guy after he choked away the U.S. Open by three-putting on the 72nd hole. Johnson was 14th here in 2010. His best result was a T2 in 2011. Rickie Fowler (+1600), Justin Rose (+1800), Scott (+2000) and Henrik Stenson (+2000) round out the favorites. Fowler just won the Scottish Open on Sunday; Phil Mickelson won that event two years ago and then the British Open. Fowler was T2 in last year's Open. Somehow, Rose hasn't had a Top 10 at the Open as a pro yet. Scott has three straight Top 5s in this tournament. Stenson was T3 here five years ago and second in 2013.
Golf Odds: 2015 British Open Picks
A ton of props as usual for a major. You can get Spieth to make the cut at -1000 and not to at +550. I don't see how he misses it. Rose is more interesting at -650 to make it and +400 not to. Tiger is just -220 to make it and +165 not to. I think he does. For a Top 10, I'm not taking Spieth but Dustin Johnson at even money, Fowler at +150, Scott at +175 and Stenson at +187.5.
I like Sergio Garcia at +330 as the highest-placed finisher against Martin Kaymer (+330), Hideki Matsuyama (+330), Shane Lowry (+400) and Branden Grace (+400). I'll go Oosthuizen (+250) over Rose (+250), Tiger (+450), Mickelson (+450) and Paul Casey (+450). Take Bernhard Langer (+333) as the top senior player and Garcia (-138) as the top Spaniard. Dustin Johnson is my top American pick at +550.
My pick to win is Stenson, who is way overdue for a major. I might back it up with a Big 4 of Spieth, Johnson, Fowler and Rose at +185 against the field (-225). You can also get a Big 4 of Stenson, Oosthuizen, Scott and Mickelson at +500 vs. the field (-900).
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