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The 4th and final major championship this season, The Open Championship returns to St Andrews for the first time since 2015 for the 150th anniversary of the tournament. The return of Tiger Woods, who has hoisted this trophy 3 times, will be one of the biggest stories this week, as this could be his last appearance at St. Andrews. Known as the worlds “oldest course”, the Scotland 18-hole links style golf course plays at 7,305 yards. Winds are expected to reach up to 20mph over the weekend, so expect better scores Thursday and Friday, with a bloodbath heading into moving day. The 2021 Open Championship was held at Royal St George’s. Defending champion Colin Morikowa (+2800) returns to this years field. Top contenders by listed odds are Rory McIlroy (+1000), Xander Schauffele (+1400), Jordan Spieth (+1500), Jon Rahm (+1600) & Scottie Scheffler (+1600).
Jordan Spieth (+1500)
– I mean, there is a statistical and logical explanation for Spieth. But do I really need to give it? Not only did he win The Open in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, but he was the runner up to Colin Morikowa last year. Spieth also had a T20 finish in 2019, T9 finish in 2018 and a T4 finish the last time the tournament was played at St Andrews in 2015. If you’ve bet Spieth outright before, you’re fully aware of the rollercoaster of emotions that comes with it. Expect the same this week.. at St Andrews, imagination around the greens will be key. There’s few better at navigating their way around the golf course in an unorthodox way. The emotional rollercoaster will be in full force.
Tony Finau (+3400)
– The Tony Finau breakthrough win to lead him on a spree of victories and great finishes (See Xander Schauffele) is certainly coming. I assure you of that. 9th on tour in SG: Tee to Green, Finau is a ball striking machine. While the putting and short game for Finau hasn’t been elite, if you can hit greens and convert on those chances, you’ll avoid having to use the short game magic. I don’t see Tony running away with it out of the gate by any means. However, if the wind picks up on the weekend, ball-striking will come at a high premium. 4 consistent rounds and avoiding 3 putts and Finau should be in the hunt come Sunday. T9 finish in 2018 followed up by a solo 3rd finish in 2019.
Max Homa (+4500)
– Playing with Tiger Woods Thursday and Friday, what better opportunity to get off to a hot start in the chase of your first major championship? Homa has been playing like a Top 10 golfer in the world this season, with 2 victories and 3 additional Top 10 finishes under his belt. His OWGR matches his rank for scoring average on tour this season at 19th. Some will say his victories came in weaker fields, which does have some truth to it. However, make no mistake about it, Max is the real deal. Still chasing his first major, expect Max to be lurking on moving day.
Sahith Theegala (+11000)
– Now, let’s have some fun. If you read these weekly posts or pay attention to my wagers, you’re probably very aware there is some bias for me here. However, you’re an idiot if you count him out. He plays his best golf in the biggest tournaments. Still bouncing back from his meltdown on the 18th hole at the Travelers, Theegala is ready to show the world again what he is capable of. He’s certainly imaginative and creative, which will be necessary this week. It’s a long shot for a reason, but don’t go to sleep tonight without your Sahith outright ticket.
Xander Schauffele (+280)
– I’m not a fan of taking outright tickets on golfers who are THIS hot. Xander has been playing out of his mind lately, with 2 consecutive wins & a victory at the JP McManus Pro-Am in Ireland. I don’t like the outright value on Xander, but he’s playing better golf than anybody in the world. I can’t leave him off my bet slip entirely.
Cam Smith (+550)
– There is very few safer bets from week to week than Cam Smith. Mr. Consistency is 4th on tour in scoring average this season, with a handful of Top 10’s to go along with it. Hasn’t had any “wow” performances at The Open, but I expect that to change this week.
Patrick Cantlay (+280)
– Certainly has been a bit of a strange season for Cantlay. Yet to be victorious in an individual tournament this year, Cantlay has still been a machine. 5th in FedEx Cup rankings, ranked 4th on OWGR, and 8 Top 10 finishes… Cantlay wants to capture that first major, and there is no bigger stage than The Open. Love the value on Top 10.
Seamus Power (+500)
– Seamus Power did not play in a major championship until this season. He is 35 years old and turned pro in 2011. I will repeat…. this year was the first time Seamus Power played in a major championship… at Augusta, Power competed and made the cut. He ultimately finished T27, which isn’t too bad for your first major. At Southern Hills for the PGA Championship, he got a Top 10 finish in his debut. Ultimately followed up his major debut tour with a T12 at Brookline for the US Open. It’s not the sexiest pick. I didn’t have a huge grin when I submitted the ticket.. but the value is there.
Cam Young (+200)
– Well, the breakout rookie certainly let us down at the Scottish Open, as he was my favorite play on the week and failed to make the cut. But, I suppose it was all a setup to come out red hot at St Andrews. Again, a young rookie who plays his best golf in big tournaments, look for Young to be in the mix. I love this as a safety play, but if you’re feeling risky there is nice value on him to finish higher too. I have my risky plays in for the week, so I stayed away from anything bigger than Top 20 on Young this week. I don’t see him winning outright, but he could sneak into the Top 10 if the putter gets hot.
Dylan Fritelli (+380)
– I am patiently waiting on Fritelli to be the guy who spoils a major championship and takes the trophy from one of the worlds highest ranked players, but I can’t get myself to pull an outright ticket. He finished 5th place last year when Morikowa beat his former Texas teammate Jordan Spieth on Sunday. Not a statistical maniac by any means, but he’s been solid all year and he is familiar with links golf.
Sepp Straka (+750)
– For a guy who has won a tournament this year & put together 2 additional top 10 finishes in competitive fields, I am always shocked at the price on Straka. He can be inconsistent, and isn’t a guy with the prettiest stats, but he can play with the best and he has shown that. At 7.5 to 1, this is a no brainer for me.