British Open Golf Expert Picks with Odds and Predictions
American Michael Kim said he wasn't sure if he was going to be able to find lodging in Scotland this week for the British Open at Carnoustie, but after winning his way into that tournament with a dominant victory Sunday in the John Deere Classic, I'm sure he'll find a hostel or something where he can spend some of that $1,044,000.
Kim lapped the field at TPC Deere Run, finishing at a tournament-record 27 under to win by eight shots. That tied the largest margin of victory on Tour this season and was easily the biggest in the tournament's history. Not only was it worth that nice chunk of change and a two-year exemption for his first career win but also the final spot (on the PGA Tour anyway) in the British Open. Not bad for a 25-year-old who entered on the heels of three straight missed cuts and at 161st in the FedEx Cup standings. Kim previously had just one Top-10 finish in 84 career starts -- a third at the Safeway Open two years ago. Needless to say, I didn't have Kim on my radar in the Quad Cities. My winning choice was Scott Stallings, who missed the cut following rounds of 69-61.
So, we move on from that event to the Open Championship, as those folks across the pond refer to the British Open. It's the 147th staging of the oldest of the four majors and it's the last time it will be the third of them in the calendar year. In 2019, the PGA Championship moves from August to May so the major season will conclude in the UK.
It's the eighth time that Carnoustie has hosted this tournament. I'll never forget the 1999 British Open when I physically felt ill for Frenchman Jean van de Velde when he melted down on the 72nd hole Sunday. Never seen anything like that in any sport. All he needed was a double bogey to take home the Claret Jug, but he tripled. Van de Velde, Paul Lawrie (who started Sunday 10 shots back) and Justin Leonard all finished at 6 over par with Lawrie winning in the playoff. It's four-hole aggregate at the British Open. Van de Velde never did win a major, but I could have told you that wasn't going to happen after that performance. Kudos to him, though, as he did accept that with grace and still acts with class to this day when continually reminded of it by the media or fans.
Depending on the weather, Carnoustie is considered one of the toughest tracks in the world with Tiger Woods calling it the toughest in the British Open rotation. I'd tell you the weather forecast this week on Scotland's East Coast, but if know anything about that area the weather can change completely in about 10 minutes. What has been reported, though, is that the course is baked dry because of a lack of rain this summer. Some guys are hitting drives more than 400 yards because the balls are rolling forever on what is essentially pavement.
Thus, I actually doubt guys use drivers on many holes when they can hit it plenty far enough with a 1 iron (which is more accurate) or such. It's going to be tough to get the ball to stop on the greens. I'm guessing the winning score will be closer to Padraig Harrington's 7 under here in 2007 (he beat Sergio Garcia in a playoff) than that 1999 6 over number.
While Europe has dominated the Ryder Cup, Americans have won five straight majors, which started when Brooks Koepka won the first of back-to-back U.S. Opens last year. Jordan Spieth is your defending champion of this tournament, outdueling Matt Kuchar on Sunday a year ago at Royal Birkdale in England.
Golf Odds: British Open Favorites
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, looking for his first British Open title, is the Bovada favorite at +1200. He might be able to drive the par 5s this week with his length and those rock-hard fairways. I think I'm kidding. DJ is working on three straight Top 10s in 2018, last a third at the U.S. Open. He has been outside the Top 20 just once in his past 10 Tour events. His best British result was runner-up in 2011. He was 54th last year.
Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy are +1600. Rose is looking to become the first Englishman to win his national Open since 1992, which is stunning. Fowler is looking for his first major. McIlroy won at Royal Liverpool in 2014.
Spieth is +2000 to become the first player since Tiger in 2006 to repeat in this tournament with Jon Rahm and Tommy Fleetwood also +2000. Woods is +2200. Spieth somehow hasn't won since the 2017 Open Championship and hasn't had a Top 10 since the Masters.
Golf Odds: British Open Picks
For a Top 10, I like DJ (even), McIlroy (+135), Fleetwood (+160) and former champion Zach Johnson (+600). I will roll the dice on Zach Johnson at +2500 as top American. Johnson has five Top 15s in his past six British Opens, including that 2015 victory. Go Fleetwood (+1000) as top European and McIlroy (+260) as top former winner. May want to consider on the winning margin as a playoff at +300 since the last three have gone to extra holes at Carnoustie.
Head-to-head, go Spieth (-125) over Justin Thomas (-105), Rose (-125) over Fowler (-105), McIlroy (even) over Dustin Johnson (-130) and Koepka (-120) over Tiger (-110).
I'm tempted to take Zach Johnson at a longer-shot price of +10000, but let's go Fleetwood to end the English drought. Last year in the European Tour's Dunhill Links Championship, Fleetwood shot a course-record 63 at Carnoustie. He says that means nothing with how it will be set up this week, but it can't hurt!
Read more articles by Alan Matthews