Golf Odds and Predictions: 2019 British Open Picks
Six years ago, a former University of Texas national championship golfer got his first PGA Tour win at the John Deere Classic, also earning a spot into the following week's British Open. That was Jordan Spieth. On Sunday, the scenario repeated itself with Dylan Frittelli shooting a final-round 7-under 64 at TPC Deere Run for his first PGA win and a spot in this week's British Open, now the final major tournament of the season with the PGA Championship's move to May.
Frittelli made just one bogey all weekend, coming at No. 1 on Friday, to finish at 21 under and two ahead of Russell Henley. Frittelli entered the final round two shots back of co-leaders Cameron Tringale and Andrew Landry. The win not only got him a spot this week and a Tour exemption but also guaranteed him entry into at least the first FedExCup playoff event.
Frittelli, who is South African, also plays on the European Tour and has two wins over there and both in 2017: the Lyoness Open and Mauritius Open. He also has lost in two European Tour event playoffs. He played the British Open the previous two years and missed the cut in each. My winning choice at the John Deere was Joaquin Niemann, who finished T10 at 15 under.
So it's off to Northern Ireland this week for the 148th British Open. It's just the second time it will be held outside of either England or Scotland. In 1951 in the 80th Open Championship, England's Max Faulkner won at 3 under at Royal Portrush Golf Club, which also hosts this week. It's a pretty spectacular layout with plenty of dunes, elevation changes and the Irish Sea (and winds) definitely in play. It will play to par 72 at a shade over 7,300 yards.
Obviously going to be a bit tougher to handicap this week because this is a new course in the British Open rotation. From what I'm reading, the players expect it play very tough and it is a world-renowned track. Royal Portrush did host the 2012 Irish Open on the European Tour and Wales' Jamie Donaldson won at 18 under, but it sounds like there's no way any player will approach that number. The course has been almost completely overhauled since then. The two notable holes are the par-4, 374-yard fifth, known was "White Rocks," and the par-3, 236-yard 16th that's called "Calamity Corner."
There are a few things we can go by when betting who may hold the Claret Jug on Sunday - if any players are tied after 72 holes, there's a four-hole aggregate playoff followed by sudden death if the lead is still tied. First off, nine of the past 12 winners of this tournament have been at least age 35. Second, there have been 12 instances of a major championship visiting a "new venue" since 2000. Nine of the 12 eventual winners were ranked inside the World Top 10 before their triumph. The worst ranked was David Toms at No. 23 at the 2001 PGA Championship in Atlanta. The 12 winners had an average world ranking of 7.33.
The British Open does tend to have out-of-nowhere winners at times, like Darren Clarke in 2011, Stewart Cink in 2009, Todd Hamilton in 2004 and Ben Curtis in 2003. Americans have won the tournament just four times in the past 12 years. The British Open is like cocaine in a way for golf nuts (not that I'd know) because you can get up (or stay up) at 1:30 a.m. ET the first two rounds and watch live major championship golf.
Golf Odds: British Open Favorites
To absolutely no surprise, local boy Rory McIlroy is the +800 Bovada favorite. He grew up not far from Royal Portrush in Holywood, which is basically a suburb of Belfast. McIlroy clearly will be getting all the love from the fans - every round already is sold out - and has been Top 5 in his past four trips to this tournament. He won in 2014 and was one of the runners-up last year to Italy's Francesco Molinari.
Brooks Koepka is +1000 and he's Mr. Major Championship right now with his recent success in the U.S. Open and PGA Championship. Koepka's best British Open result is sixth two years ago. He hasn't played well since a T2 at the U.S. Open.
Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Tiger Woods are all +1600 - Tiger goes off Thursday at 10:10 a.m. ET with U.S. Open champ Gary Woodland and Paul Casey. Woods has won the Claret Jug three times, last in 2006 when he repeated. It's his first event since a T21 at the U.S. Open. Rahm hasn't been a factor in this tournament yet, while DJ generally doesn't play all that great at the Open Championship other than a runner-up in 2011. Molinari is +2500 to go back-to-back.
Golf Odds: British Open Picks
Tons of props available at Bovada as one would expect. I'll go Sergio Garcia (+450) as top Spaniard with Rory at -250 as top Irishman and Xander Schauffele (+1000) as top American. I do like both McIlroy (-125) and Schauffele (+225) for Top 10s but not Koepka (even) or Woods (+150).
It seems too storybook for McIlroy to win even though he probably should considering he shot a course-record 61 at Royal Portrush when he was just 16 years old. But I'm going with Adam Scott at +2800. He should have won in 2012 and has finished T18 or better in each of his last five starts this year, including Top 10s at the PGA Championship and U.S. Open.
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