The 148th British Open Championship makes a welcome return to Northern Ireland this year as Royal Portrush plays host for the first time since 1951.
Players warmed up on both sides of the Atlantic last week but with no big-name winners in either the Scottish Open or the John Deere Classic, assessing form is tough as we go into Thursday’s first tee time.
Two men are clear in the USA oddsmakers’ betting odds for The Open 2019 with home favorite Rory McIlroy (9/1) just edging Brooks Koepka (10/1) into second place. There are plenty of stats in Rory’s favor this week including a course record 61 made when he was just 16. Form is also with the Northern Irishman after a string of single digit finishes this season.
As for Brooks, it’s hard to assess his chances when you consider that his form only lifts for the Majors. Outside of the US, it’s not so easy to judge how he’ll perform but it may be worth noting that his caddy Ricky Elliott learned his own game at Royal Portrush.
After the front duo, the odds get exceptionally tight and the chasing pack is kicked off by joint third favorites. The sportsbooks can’t separate 16/1 shots Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm, who are both in good touch and should have some relevant stats.
Just behind there is Justin Rose and Tiger Woods (both around 20/1) before we come to our defending champion. Francesco Molinari (25/1) was impressive in winning by two strokes in 2018 but has yet to fully recover from a last-day slump at this year’s US Masters.
Xander Schauffele (25/1) ran Molinari close last year and was also in contention at the Masters, while punters may want to consider Adam Scott and Henrik Stenson (both 28/1).
Away from the PGA Tour, there have been a number of golfers enjoying success on the European Tour and we could see a big price land in the top 10 finishers market. One of the names that interests us is that of Italy’s Andrea Pavan (250/1) who has won twice in Europe in the last 12 months.
Pavan was also competitive at the Scottish Open last week and we believe he’s a name to watch at Portrush.
For some shorter odds in this outside pack there are a host of names that might yet challenge for the Claret Jug. Justin Thomas (28/) and Bryson Dechambeau (40/1) are two players on the US Tour who have lost form this season and have drifted out to longer odds as a result.
Further down the list is Jordan Spieth (33/1) and it’s now two years since he won a trophy on any Tour. Tommy Fleetwood’s (25/1) dip in form hasn’t been quite as dramatic but it may rule the Englishman out while Paul Casey (40/1) may be worth a closer look in a rare trip to his native European Tour.
The consistent Matt Kuchar (33/1) is another name of interest and we claimed a sizeable profit on Kuch when he came second to Spieth two years ago. He is top of the FedEx list so form is certainly no issue.
Elsewhere, the real form horse is Spain’s Rafa Cabrera Bello (66/1) who comes into Thursday on the back of three straight top 10 finishes. He has a strong record on both Tours and is another contender for a single digit finish at least.
The US threat continues with the likes of Rickie Fowler (33/1), Gary Woodland (55/1) and Webb Simpson (66/1), while the English pair of Matt Wallace (40/1) and Eddie Pepperell (66/1) may also be in contention on Sunday evening.
Our Preview’s Course & Betting Trends for The Open with Picks & Predictions Verdict
Like many Open Championship venues, Royal Portrush will offer some classic links golf this week. There are two courses here but we are on the longer Dunluce Links which comes in as a par 71 at a relatively lengthy 7,344 yards.
1951’s Open Championship result holds no relevance but it’s interesting to go back to 2012 when Portrush held the Irish Open. Scrambling was a key stat and the one that many are looking to this week. Distance from the tee could be important with a driveable par 4 and some gentle par 5s.
Persistent rain may affect those with a poor links record but in a tough field, we are looking for Dustin Johnson to match those important statistics. He may need the weather to be more benign than the forecast indicates but it is time for DJ to emerge from a subdued run and claim another overdue Major. These are our betting picks and British Open golf predictions:
- Dustin Johnson to win @ +1600 (16/1) with Bovada.
- Johnson @ +350 (7/2) with BetOnline for a Top 5 finish.
- The following for Top 10 finishes (best odds in brackets): Andrea Pavan (+2200 or 22/1 with BetOnline in their futures section or Intertops), Rafa Cabrera Bello (+600 or 6/1 BetOnline) and Matt Kuchar (+325 BetOnline).