All the best bets that aren't simply 'Player X to win.'

By Daniel Rapaport
July 17, 2019

The year's final major begins on Thursday. Which, among other things, means that after this week's Open Championship you won't have an opportunity to bet on major championship golf until Augusta rolls around...in nine months.

All this is to say: this is the week to load up on wagers. And by wagers, we don't simply mean 'Player X to win the Open Championship.' During major weeks, way more matchups and prop bets are available than usual, and it would be downright wasteful not to indulge on this wider menu of options.

Here are some particularly tasty props, matchups and off-the-beat bets for what should be an exciting week of action at Royal Portrush.;

Henrik Stenson to finish in the top 10 (+280)

I have Stenson listed No. 7 in my Top 100 field rankings, so I'm clearly bullish on his chances this week. No one in the 150-plus year history of the Open Championship has shot a lower 72-hole score than his 264 in 2016, and he's got three other finishes of third or better in this event. His piercing ball flight cuts through the wind beautifully, which is a big reason why he's had so much success on links tracks in the past. And unlike the other three majors, his reluctance to hit driver will not be as much of a disadvantage given the lesser importance of length this week.

And then there's his recent form. Stenson has finished in the top 10 in each of his past three starts: T8 at the Canadian Open, T9 at the U.S. Open and T4 last week at the Scottish Open, where he made 21 birdies and one double bogey (and zero bogeys) for the week. The recent uptick is due to improved putting, and the slower surfaces at Portrush should allow him to stay aggressive on the greens.

Matt Kuchar to finish in the top 20 (+130)

I let out an audible gasp when I saw that Kooch to finish top 20 was plus money. He has finished in the top 20 in eight of his past nine events, which would leave you to believe that the oddsmakers don't think this is a good fit for him. But that also doesn't check out—Kuchar is a flat-ball hitter who excels on links and in the wind. He finished solo second to Jordan Spieth at the 2017 Open and was T9 last year at Carnoustie. Simply put, I think Kuchar has as good a chance as anyone to win this week, and he's the furthest thing from a boom or bust guy. Remember, before he started winning again recently he was known as a backdoor top-10 machine. Hammer this one.

Jon Rahm over Rory McIlroy (+145), Brooks Koepka over Rory McIlroy (+125)

This boils down to being a bit down on McIlroy this week. Yes, he's been the most consistent player on the Earth this year. Yes, he knows this golf course inside and out. And yes, his recent British Open history is tremendous. But whether he wants to admit it or not, there are heaps of extra pressure on Northern Ireland's great hope this week—questions about what it would mean to win here, about what this tournament means for the country, yadda yadda yadda. It has to be tiring. And for as well as McIlroy has played this week, his major performances have been really pedestrian—T21 at the Masters, an extremely backdoor T8 at the PGA and T9 at the U.S. Open.

On the flip side, Rahm might be the hottest player in the field, and I think Koepka is actually being a bit undervalued on the betting markets this week.

Matt Wallace over Bryson DeChambeau (+140)

Another one of those lines that I had to read twice to believe. Wallace may not be well-known to American audiences, but he's a world-class British player who is good enough to win a major right now. He's won four times on the European Tour since 2017; he finished T3 at the PGA and T12 at the U.S. Open; and he's as competitive as it comes. Why is that relevant? He's been grouped with Tiger Woods in the first round, and he's absolutely the type to want to one-up the GOAT on the global stage.

DeChambeau finished T2 in his last start, but that was at the John Deere Classic, a tournament that could not be more different than the Open if it tried. He loves to try to make golf shots into math problems, which isn't a terrific strategy on links courses that prioritize imagination and varied trajectories. His previous two Opens ended in a missed cut and a T51, so it hasn't exactly been his cup of tea.

Bubba Watson to miss the cut (-110)

He only wins on certain types of courses, and he knows this, and he also knows that this isn’t one of those courses. Bubba has missed the cut in three of his last five British Open starts and could well do the same this week. If it’s windy—which the forecast says it will be— that’s the most likely outcome.

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