The Open Championship 2018 Preview: Can An English Rose Flower At Just the Right Time?

Carnoustie Golf Club
Photo © Richard Webb (cc-by-sa/2.0) (cropped)

World Cup 2018 is over, Wimbledon 2018 is no more, and sports fans and punters can be forgiven for feeling a bit down about life at the moment.

But chins up, ladies and gents, as there is another exciting sporting spectacle just around the corner.

The third major of the golf calendar year, the Open Championship, starts on Thursday, and if you have never had a punt on the golf here’s what you might be missing out on….

Last week, Brandon Stone (500/1) won the Scottish Open and Michael Kim (200/1) prospered in the John Deere Classic; a double which paid out upside of 100,000/1!

Of course, such instances are rare, but that gives you a flavour of what is on the table in the exciting and (occasionally) frustrating world of golf betting.

The Open is a slightly different vibe, in that the very best players in the world will take to the tee. The chances of getting a long-priced winner are a lot shorter then, but at this week’s host venue, Carnoustie, anything is possible.

Car-Nasty Prepares to Break More Hearts

Sports fans of a certain vintage may just recall Jean van de Velde, trousers and socks cast asunder, up to his shins in the ‘Barry Burn’ as his hopes of winning the Open Championship were dashed in the space of barely five minutes.

The Frenchman was leading the tournament by three shots heading into the final hole, but nerves got the better of him and instead of hitting an iron off the tee he went a bit more gung-ho; and he found the creek which snakes its way around the 18th hole.

Van de Velde would go on to make a triple bogey – taking him from comfortable outright leader to a play-off contestant in the blink of an eye. Given the psychological toil of what had just unfolded, Van de Velde had no chance in the play-off, and Paul Lawrie clinched the title.

A similar fate almost befell Padraig Harrington here in 2007; he double-bogeyed the last after finding the Barry Burn, and he too had to participate in a play-off. This time, the Irishman regrouped well to see off a youthful Sergio Garcia.

Those are the dangers lurking at Carnoustie, where a handsome lead can perish in an instant; which makes this tournament a fantastic spectacle for viewers but a potentially hair-raising one for punters!

Rose Top of the Class

Justin Rose
Credit: Tour Pro Golf Clubs Flickr

A look at the last five Open Championship winners – Jordan Spieth, Henrik Stenson, Rory McIlroy, Zach Johnson and Phil Mickelson – confirms that punters should be focusing their attention on classy players towards the summit of the betting.

Of that exclusive grouping, there are some players that can be eliminated from our enquiries; albeit with the caveat that they *could* find form and take the title.

Jordan Spieth is the defending champion, but his formline is terrible by his own high standards: he hasn’t finished inside the top-20 in any of his last six starts.

Rickie Fowler has just four wins in nine years on the PGA Tour, and so his price of 16/1 is untouchable.

If you look back at Jon Rahm’s best performances, they tend to cut at easier courses where the notoriously temperamental Spaniard doesn’t lose his temper in such a hurry!

Dustin Johnson is very obviously a contender, but at 11/1 and with no Links golf preparation, we’re just about happy enough to give him the swerve.

Of those below 20/1, that leaves Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose, and we’re happy enough to side with the latter.

He has the major pedigree, having won the US Open in 2013 and compiled six top-10 finishes in the big ones, and he has form on his side too with four consecutive top-10 returns including a ninth place at the Scottish Open last week.

The heartache of losing out to Garcia in the Masters last year is still something that rankles with the Englishman, and there’s no doubt he has a burning desire to make up for lost time this week in conditions that should suit.

At 16/1, Rose is the standout pick from the major players.

And One From the Bottom

The Open 2018What you’ll find this week is that many bookmakers offer seven or even eight places on each way bets.

That’s handy, because it means we can chance our arm on long-odds sorts in the knowledge that even if they finish as low as eighth we can pocket a decent return.

There are plenty of candidates worth a penny or two: Alexander Bjork (200/1) won on the European Tour earlier this season, and has three top-20s in as many Links events lately.

We might also expect Kevin Na’s (175/1) game to soar now that he has ended his long win drought with victory at the Greenbrier Classic a fortnight ago.

But the player who really appeals here is Brandt Snedeker, and if you move fast you might jut snap up some of the 125/1 before that value is gone.

Sneds finished third in his last start, and he is a proven performer in windy, testing conditions; which Carnoustie is guaranteed to deliver, despite the UK’s heatwave.

And he seems to enjoy the Open Championship too, with third and eleventh place finishes here in his career. You would have to expect Snedeker to be in the mix this week.