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146th British Open Futures Odds and Match-Up Picks

United States(41 wins) @ England(22 wins)

  • Where: Royal Birkdale Golf Club. Southport, England
  • When: July 20, 2017 2:00 am EST
  • Moneyline: Dustin Johnson (+1400), Jordan Spieth (+1400), Rickie Fowler (+1400), Jon Rahm (+1600), Sergio Garcia (+1600), Justin Rose (+1800), Rory McIlroy (+1800), Hideki Matsuyama (+2000), Tommy Fleetwood (+2000), Phil Mickelson (+4000)

What a strange, inscrutable year of major championship golf 2017 has been…and it’s only halfway home.

Prohibitive Masters favorite Dustin Johnson fell down a flight of stairs on the Wednesday before the tournament at Augusta National, and was forced to withdraw – opening the door for Sergio Garcia to win his first major title.

Then, calm weather and 2017 equipment turned Erin Hills into a “tour” course as opposed to the hilly long-distance nightmare that was advertised. That allowed relatively un-hyped Brooks Koepka to break through and steal the U.S. Open from a field of highly-touted power players.

As always, golf pundits are overreacting to the latest news. The sudden streak of first-time winners has led some journalists to hype a possible British Open break-through for Lee Westwood (+6600) whose age and attitude problems are both advancing steadily over time. Justin Rose is another sentiment favorite among the British press, as he returns to the site of his magical Open performance as a teenage amateur.

But that site just happens to be Royal Birkdale, a course which has hosted nine Open Championships and crowned seven World Hall-of-Famers as Champion Golfer Of The Year. Birkdale is a different kind of links course, known as “the fairest” for its flat fairways and lack of blind shots. But it could also be called the most demanding on the Open rota, since only great champions seem able to master it.

Given the recent-vs-overall history conundrum, bookies are taking no chances on hoisting short-odds favorites and watching them flail. Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler are listed at (+1400) each on top of the Bovada futures board, with six other players given (+2000) or better odds-to-win.

Blue-collar bids

Let’s first go through a few names from the British Open field who are not shoo-ins for the World Golf Hall Of Fame, in case there’s anyone with an unlikely lunch-pail win up his sleeve.

Kopeka hasn’t played since his surprise triumph at the U.S. Open, and more power to him – some young players have reacted to their first major title by running around the world collecting exhibition checks (*cough* Rory *cough*) and wearing themselves out in the process. But potential rust has its downside too – British Opens are won over 72 holes but can be lost on merely a few.

Tommy Fleetwood enjoys (+2000) odds after dominating a few drive-and-flick courses in 2017. But he has missed the cut at the last three Opens and is likely to miss it again this year, making his odds ridiculous.

Jon Rahm is a 22 year-old Spaniard who has ascended to a World rank of #8 in a short time. His (+1600) futures line is tempting enough, but his 27th-place finish at the Masters betrayed a lack of developed touch on major championship putting surfaces. He will likely find similar problems on the similarly fast (if not as hilly) greens at Royal Birkdale.

The Aristocrats

Bet on Rickie Fowler to win the 2017 Open Championship and receive a welcome bonus from Bovada Sportsbook.

Dustin Johnson deserves great credit for picking up the pieces after his freak injury in April. Johnson has won three tournaments in 2017 including the World Match Play in a dramatic final match with Jon Rahm. But D.J.’s health is still not 100%, and he missed the cut at the U.S. Open…making his board-topping odds for the British Open dubious.

The futures board is littered with other big-time golfers who could win, but offer nagging concerns in either odds-value or % chances of contending this week. Sergio Garcia (+1600) has been a great story in ’17, but his second major may come as hard as the first did. Jordan Spieth finished well in the pack at Erin Hills and has struggled to put it all together this season. Justin Rose and Hedeki Matsuyama lack the brute strength and balance to win in a heavy wind, and Rory McIlroy (+1800) is having a miserable 2017 on the links.

Enter Rickie Fowler at (+1400) odds. The 28 year-old is entering his prime, finished in the top 10 at the U.S. Open and had an excellent first three days at The Masters. Fowler is sturdy in foul weather, long off the tee and has the short game to escape from Birkdale’s bunkers. His form at last week’s Scottish Open was impeccable. Consider that he contended at Royal St. George in 2011, a course with diabolical fairway mounds that punished the American’s aggressive driving style. Competing on similar greens and flat fairways at Birkdale? Look out.

Yes, it would be Rickie’s first major title. But we can all agree that if he wins this week, claiming a second or even a third major title before turning 30 would not be a mere pipe dream.

Match-Up Bets

MSB sees value – and fun – in two tournament match-up bets.

Phil Mickelson has been given pick ’em odds against 34 year-old Louie Oosthuizen, a player of prominence in his 20s who has slowly tapered off to a World #40 ranking. Mickelson did not play in the U.S. Open and isn’t likely to drive the ball accurately enough to win at Birkdale. But he is likely to whip “Shrek” over 72 holes.

Justin Rose has very slight favorites’ odds over 72 holes against Matsuyama. Both are fine players with chances to contend, but Rose is the value bet for one reason – if neither golfer is near the top of the leaderboard on the weekend, Rose will have more incentive to keep playing for birdies. After all, Royal Birkdale is the venue that turned him into a folk hero and launched his career.

Don’t wait for hindsight

Dustin Johnson’s father-in-law Wayne Gretzky counseled teammates to skate to where the puck will be, not where it is.

The same applies to betting wisely. While Rickie Fowler is not yet proven himself on Sunday at the majors, he has a much better than 14/1 chance to change that narrative this week. That makes him the strongest wager out of all odds-on favorites to hoist the Claret Jug.

Kurt BoyerThis article was written by Kurt Boyer

A freelance sportswriter from Missouri, Kurt has covered court, gridiron, rink and ring for 10+ years. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.

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