It’s British Open week which, for the first time in a long time, means it’s the final major of the year. This year’s Open returns to Northern Ireland for the first time in 68 years. It will be played at Royal Portrush where betting favorite- Rory McIlroy- holds the course record with a 61 that he shot when he was 16.
As I said, Rory is the favorite to win at +800 followed by Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson at +1000, Jon Rahm at +1600, and Tiger Woods at +1800.
Below are my picks, and for anyone who isn’t familiar with my system here is how it works. The first column shows the top 10 players that I think have the best chance to win (in order) with the player in the top spot being my official pick to win. In the second column, I have my dark horses (players with +5000 odds to win or worse) and they are also in order. The third column shows my bust picks (players I think will have a very bad week, oftentimes elite level guys who many people are betting on). The fourth column shows a few more guys that I think should have a solid week, but guys that I don’t think have a great chance to win (typically expect these guys to finish somewhere in the 10th-30th range). The final column shows my prediction for the winning score. Anyone who is not seen on this list I am neutral on meaning I wouldn’t bet on them but I also am not seeking them out to bet against.
- Rafa Cabrera-Bello: At +8000, Rafa is one of the best values in the field. He has played the last three weeks on the European Tour (in events that many of the players this week played into prep for the Open) and finished T9 at the Scottish Open, T4 at the Irish Open, and T3 at the BMW International. In addition, he came in 2nd the last time a professional event was held at Royal Portrush (2012 Irish Open), so he has proven he likes this course.
- Bernd Wiesberger: Despite being a name that most casual fans have likely never heard of, Wiesberger is a common darkhorse pick this week. He won the Scottish Open last week, came in 2nd at the Irish Open two weeks ago, and finished T16 at the BMW International the week before that. The Austrian is in as good of form as any in the field.
- Lucas Bjerregard: The young Danish player made a name for himself at the WGC Dell this year where he took down Tiger Woods in a head to head match. But recently he has struggled with missed cuts the last two weeks at the Scottish Open and Irish Open and a couple weeks before that at the US Open. He also is playing in the British Open for just the second time in his career, the first being eight years ago where he missed the cut.
- Si Woo Kim: Kim is one of the only players in the field who has participated in a pro event each of the last five weeks. And unfortunately for Kim, he has missed the cut in all five of those (Scottish Open, 3M Open, Rocket Mortgage, Travelers, US Open). I would be surprised if that streak ended this week in the extremely deep and difficult field of a major championship.
- Bubba Watson: Watson is a pretty safe bust pick almost every year for the Open. His game just doesn’t translate very well overseas in the harsh weather. And to make matters worse Watson has missed the cut in three of his last four starts, and the only cut he made he finished 54th. Bet against all three of these guys in any prop or matchup bets you can find.
Winning Score – 16 under
- There’s not much data to go off of here. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the 1951 British Open winning score of -3 doesn’t really apply for this year’s tournament. The 2012 Irish Open, however, could be a better place to start where Graeme McDowell won with -18. The weather report is calling for rain all four days, but temperatures are moderate as are the winds so the conditions should be pretty standard for a British Open. RP isn’t supposed to be too hard of a course, and the rain should make pins more accessible to the field. I expect guys to go low, and I wouldn’t be that shocked if we saw someone at least threaten Branden Grace’s major record of 62.
Picks to Win
- 4th-10th: To quickly summarize this group, I think all seven of these guys have a good shot at winning this week. Rory is the favorite and knows this course better than anyone, the course suits Tiger well with more of an emphasis on ball-striking than putting, Jason Day has finished top 25 at all three majors and is in good form, Brooks is the best player in the world right now but he did finish outside the top 50 in his last two starts, Adam Scott has finished top 18 in all three major’s this week and fits this course for reasons similar to Tiger, DJ hasn’t played great but his talent gives him the chance to contend even if he isn’t at his best, and Bryson has been trending towards a win with his last start being a runner-up finish.
- 3rd– Jon Rahm: Rahm is in great form with his last three starts being a win at the Irish Open, T2 at Sergio’s event, and 3rd at the US Open. He also has two top 10’s in the majors this year and contended at the Player’s. My main concern with Rahm is that in three starts at the Open he has never finished better than T44. That T44 also came in 2017 where Rahm won the Irish Open two weeks before, so that shows that a win at the Irish doesn’t always translate to the Open.
- 2nd– Xander Schauffele: There aren’t many players in the world that have been as consistently great in majors the last two years as Xander. This year he has finished T3, T16, and T2, and last year he finished T2 at the British Open. The pressure doesn’t bother Xander, and it’s only a matter of time before the 25-year-old gets his first major win. It wouldn’t surprise me if that happened this week.
- Winner- Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama has been solid in all three majors this year with 21st, 16th, and 32nd place finishes. He also has been trending up with his last three starts being a 7th, 13th, and 21st. But the biggest reason I like Matsuyama this week is his fit for this course. Like Tiger and Adam Scott, Hideki is an incredible ball-striker who tends to struggle on the putting surface. Royal Portrush is perfect for that style of play. In addition, Matsuyama has proven he can contend in the British Open where he has three top 20 finishes in six starts including a T6 in 2013.