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The Open Championship: Top Picks, Best Bets, and Sleepers

The 151st rendition of The Open Championship will be held at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake, England. Royal Liverpool will certainly satisfy golf fans looking for a classic links-style course. The par 71 course will stretch to roughly 7,400 yards. It has all that can be expected from an Open Championship course, including a slew of pot bunkers, slow fescue greens, and tall native grasses surrounding long, penalizing rough. On top of all that, weather will play a large factor as it always does over the pond. Windy conditions will add to the already tough test for the world’s top players. Let’s dive into the favorites in the field, as well as players I believe are worth a look when placing wagers for this year’s Open Championship.

Top Picks for The Open Championship

The Open Championship: Favorites

Rory McIlroy (+750)

At first glance, I was shocked to see Rory as the favorite for this year’s Open. It seems like it’s been years since anyone other than Scottie Scheffler or Jon Rahm has been at the top of betting boards. The more I look into Rory’s profile, however, I can certainly understand why the public is backing Rory. He will come into the Genesis Scottish Open with 5 straight Top 10s, including his T7 at the PGA Championship and a runner-up finish at the US Open. He has also thrived playing The Open historically, finishing T5 or better in 5 of his last 7 attempts at hoisting The Claret Jug. This includes his victory the last time Royal Liverpool hosted the event in 2014.

Rory will certainly be a fan favorite and will have a lot of hype to live up to. If he cannot defend his Royal Liverpool title, he will head into the 2024 season looking for his first major in 10 years. If there’s anywhere for Rory to finally get back on top, Liverpool is as good as any.

Scottie Scheffler (+900)

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know how remarkable Scottie Scheffler has been this season. With no finish worse than T12 dating back to October, it’s not ridiculous to compare Scottie to Tiger Woods, certainly in his ability to get to the green. Where Scheffler and prime Tiger Woods differ greatly is the putter. If golf was played with a 3-foot hole, Scottie Scheffler would probably be the richest man on Earth. For whatever reason, Scottie just can’t figure out the flat stick. He has flirted with a putter change over the past few weeks and that has seemed to help out slightly, just not nearly enough to actually win a tournament.

I don’t want to misconstrue you in believing Scottie Scheffler is a ridiculously bad putter. With the exception of a few very poor putting performances, he mostly breaks even with putting. In comparison to the rest of his elite game, however, the putter is the only thing that is lacking. The only reason he looks poor on the data side of putting is because the rest of his game is so incredible. He gives himself many more birdie opportunities than the field average. So sure, he doesn’t cash in on as many as he should, but he also has 2 or 3 more chances than anyone else playing any given round.

Luckily for Scottie Scheffler, I believe the slow fescue greens of Royal Liverpool will play to his advantage. For someone painted as such a poor putter, he ranks 2nd on TOUR in approach putting. This means that while he doesn’t make a lot of his longer opportunities, he doesn’t miss the putts by much and almost never 3 putts. I will certainly be backing Scottie Scheffler at 9/1, and hope that he can make enough 10-15 footers to give us the win.

Jon Rahm (+900)

Jon Rahm will most likely end up overlooked at the top of the board. His green jacket may garner some interest, but most golf fans have seen his recent finishes as nothing special. After a run of 6 wins in 13 starts, his most recent tournaments have been average at best for his standards. With a missed cut in his last outing at the Travelers Championship, Rahm will look to rebound in England for the quest of his 3rd major.

If Jon Rahm wants to achieve the coveted career grand slam, The Open Championship will be his toughest test. Besides his T3 finish in 2021, he has never truly been in contention for the Claret Jug. It’s not that I don’t believe he can win at Royal Liverpool. I do however doubt his form coming into the tournament, and at the same odds as Scottie Scheffler, I have a hard time backing Rahmbo this time.

The Open Championship: Best Bets

Patrick Cantlay (+2500)

It’s only a matter of time before Patrick Cantlay wins a major. With multiple wins at The Memorial and BMW Championship, there is no doubt he can win playing against the world’s best. He is striking the ball better than anyone not named Scottie Scheffler, and his putter can get as hot as anyone. Cantlay truly is the definition of well-rounded. In last year’s Open, had it not been for his struggles with the driver, he would have been neck and neck with Cam Smith on Sunday. Luckily for Cantlay backers, you shouldn’t have to worry about that this go-around.

Cantlay has not lost strokes Off the Tee this entire season. He has drastically improved the consistency of his tee shots this season, while also hitting much further than TOUR average. His putter has been hit or miss as of late, but his short game thrived on the fescue greens last year. At +2500, I will be confidently backing Cantlay to be in contention heading into Sunday and finally getting his long-awaited major.

Justin Rose (+4000)

Once the #1 ranked golfer in the world, Justin Rose has played some of his best golf this season. He may not be close to regaining his top ranking, but he has been very close to winning multiple times this year. His approach play is arguably the best it has ever been, and he has always been a very good putter. His Off the Tee play is what has been holding him back from winning more. When he won at Pebble Beach by 3 strokes, he did so while losing strokes to the field with the driver. When you dive into this, it’s an oddity considering he’s not only a longer hitter than average, he is also more accurate.

While he hasn’t won one yet, Justin Rose has played his country’s Open very well in the past. He has not missed a cut here since 2013 and finished runner-up in 2018. With his scorching hot irons and reliable putter, I believe the familiarity with the links-style course can help his driver struggles and will give Rose a legitimate chance at becoming The Champion Golfer of the Year.

The Open Championship: Sleepers

Talor Gooch (+10000)

Talor Gooch is a prime example of OWGR’s shortcomings and its inability to accurately rank golfers. While Gooch has won 3 of the last 5 LIV events, he currently sits at World Ranking #90. To add some perspective on how disrespectful this ranking is for Gooch, Kevin Kisner has made 1 cut on TOUR over the past 5 months, limping to the finish line with a 75th at The Player Championship. Kisner currently sits at #82 in the world, according to OWGR. I could go on and on about OWGR’s extremely flawed system, but I will turn back to my main point here: Talor Gooch deserves a look at 100/1.

The lack of strokes gained data for LIV golfers makes research a little more difficult, but we can get around it when looking at a quality player like Gooch. Looking back at last season while he was on TOUR, Gooch ranked 13th in Ball Striking and 3rd in Around the Green. He’s had moderate success playing The Open Championship, with a T33 and T34 the past 2 years. More importantly, he comes into this year’s Open in the best form of his career, with 3 wins over the last 3 months. For a player with world-class ball-striking, even better scrambling ability, and is coming in playing the best golf of his career, I will gladly take a chance on Talor Gooch at +10000.

Emiliano Grillo (+25000)

This is a true long shot. Emiliano Grillo has always been a phenomenal approach player. As of late, he has gotten even hotter with his irons. He has gained over 3.6 strokes approaching the green in 6 of his last 8 tournaments. The putter is historically where Grillo has come up short. However, he has found something with the flat stick over the past 4 months. Dating back to The Players Championship, Emiliano has gained strokes putting in 9 out of 11 tournaments.

Grillo has not had much success in majors. In 23 attempts, his best finish is T12, doing so twice at The Open Championship. With his newfound putting success to go along with his impressive approach play, I believe Grillo deserves a small wager for a true Hail Mary.

Full odds for The Open Championship can be found at DraftKings Sportsbook.


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