The Open Championship is widely regarded as the toughest major in the golfing calendar and with winds of up to 20mph and rain expected all weekend, this year promises to be no different. Padraig Harrington reigned supreme the last time the Open Championship was contested at Royal Birkdale, but who should you be backing this year? Read on to find out.
Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth are the favourites for the tournament with odds of 14/1 (Ladbrokes), but as recent majors have shown, the favourites are struggling to bring the goods. The last 7 majors have all been won by first time winners and there’s no reason to suggest that will change at Royal Birkdale this weekend. Therefore, the smart money is in looking further down the field for your pick. In this preview we’ll discuss who you should be backing out of the favourites, the British players and the outside picks.
I’d suggest steering clear of Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy this weekend with all three of the favourites struggling for form and fitness heading into The Open Championship. Of those with the shortest odds, I think this could finally be Rickie Fowler’s chance to win a major.
Odds of 16/1 (Ladbrokes) may not represent the best value, but Fowler comes into the tournament on superb form with 4 top 10 finishes in his last 5 events and this combined him being an excellent links player could see him finally win his first major at the age of 28. Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm also represent good value at 30/1 and 16/1 (Ladbrokes) respectively and both will fancy their chances of winning the Open Championship after a solid season so far.
There will be huge pressure on local boy Tommy Fleetwood, 22/1 (Ladbrokes), who comes into the tournament in red hot form and off the back of a win at the French Open. I think the pressure of the home crowd and all his friends and family might be too much for him though and a better Brit to pick could be Andy Sullivan at 80/1 (Ladbrokes).
Sullivan’s odds have been getting shorter and shorter over recent weeks as he has gone from 200/1 down to 80/1, but he still represents good value at that price. His main strength is his driving and, indeed, only Stenson and Fleetwood have recorded higher driving accuracies than Sullivan on the European Tour. Sullivan won 3 tournaments in 2015 and although his form has been inconsistent of late, now might be the time for him to step up to the plate and put in a big performance at a major.
A good Each Way pick could be Soren Kjeldsen at 110/1 (Ladbrokes). The experienced Dane is an accomplished links player and finished in the top 10 at The Scottish Open last time out and this combined with top 10 finishes in both The Irish Open and this tournament last year suggest he could be a solid pick for a top 8 finish this weekend in challenging weather conditions. His fellow Dane, Thorbjørn Olesen, who is 125/1 (Ladbrokes) also represents an excellent outside punt, despite his wildly inconsistent form. He has already won 4 competitions in his short career and appears to be a solid player in testing conditions.