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The Open Championship: Betting Odds and 3-Balls Upset Pick

United States(44 wins) @ Scotland(41 wins)

  • Where: Carnoustie Golf Links. Angus, Scotland
  • When: July 19, 2018 3:00 am EST
  • Moneyline: Dustin Johnson +1100, Justin Rose +1600, Rickie Fowler +1600, Rory McIlroy +1600, Jordan Spieth +1600, Tommy Fleetwood +1800, Jon Rahm +1800

The Royal & Ancient fell victim to a trap that infects golf course architects and manicurists in 1999, souping-up Carnoustie Golf Links in an artificial way to keep scores high. Rough was grown to heights of over 12 inches as the links were narrowed into a tiny path through the weeds.

It made for boring major-championship watching, at least until Jean Van de Velde collapsed on the watery 72nd hole. But it was a British Open made for marginal golfers to poke it down the middle and wait for everyone else to crash.

Carnoustie was better-received when the British Open returned in 2007. The overall tee-to-green circuit was lengthened, but that was offset by a boom in high-tech equipment and training techniques that Tiger’s streaks of dominance had brought to the game. Golfers were given a chance to recover from slightly-missed shots. Padraig Harrington won in a thrilling 4-hole playoff over Sergio Garcia.

How is Carnoustie set up for the Open Championship in 2018? Carefully. The R&A is supervising a layout that will play more like the course did at the Open Championship of 2007, but even longer, with severe bunkers catching any adventurous long shots. The unnerving 18th has been called the most challenging finishing hole of any in Great Britain. Wind will be a factor, and rain is in the forecast.

In short, this July’s champion will need to have a little bit of everything in the bag. Let’s look at the odds-on favorites and a sentimental but valuable long-shot pick to make noise before the weekend.

Dustin Johnson (+1100)

The Cheetah is coming off a run of terrific performances heading into The Open and stands as the odds-on favorite going into the championship. Johnson followed-up a top 10 finish at The Memorial with a victory at the St. Jude Classic and 3rd place at the U.S. Open.

Johnson currently ranks #10 on the PGA Tour in driving distance and his accuracy is improving. The current World #1 has competed in 9 Opens with his best finish a close 2nd in 2011.

Rory McIlroy (+1600)

Rory is looking for a bounce-back performance after missing the cut at the U.S. Open. He had an encouragingly strong showing at the CVS Health Charity Classic, finishing 6th. Driving distance on the long links will be no problem for the Irishman as he ranks third on the Tour at 317.0.

But McIlroy has struggled with the putter at times in ’18 and is outside the top 10 in eagles and birdie average. His last win at the Open Championship came in 2014.

Jordan Spieth (+1600)

Things are not looking great for the defending British Open champion. The talented-but-temperamental Spieth has been on a downward spiral over his last several tournaments.

The 24-year-old Texan has not managed a top 10 finish since placing 3rd at the Masters, and driving distance and driving accuracy are suffering at the same time. That’s a lethal combination of issues for any golfer hoping to conquer Carnoustie.

Justin Rose (+1600)

As a teenage amateur, Justin Rose caused a sensation in the UK by finishing 4th in the British Open. His subsequent failure to claim a Claret Jug has confounded many fans and pundits. But 2018 is looking like the year that Rose could break through, partially because the other favorites have flawed games coming into the event, but also thanks to his renewed focus and steady play in all conditions.

Rose has been extremely consistent over his last several tournaments, winning the Fort Worth Invitational and placing 10th in the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills. The 37-year-old Englishman comes in with the strongest and most well-balanced stat sheet of any contender, holding at 3rd in birdie average 2nd in scoring average at 69.17.

Rose only ranks 50th on the PGA Tour in driving distance, but players who compete overseas often must adjust to the sunny skies of America, and then to the rainy winds of England, and back again.

His 12th-place finish at Carnoustie in 2007 is an encouraging factor. His tee-to-green game could come together on a familiar layout on his side of the pond.

3-Balls Upset Special Pick: Padraig Harrington

Click to wager at Bovada Sportsbook on Padraig Harrington winning Thursday’s afternoon group over Bubba Watson and Matt Wallace. 50% welcome bonus!

A sentimental favorite at this tournament, the 46-year-old Irishman Paddy Harrington could surprise on a course that fit his well-rounded game to a tee (and a green) 11 years ago. Harrington can still drive the ball long, averaging almost 300 yards off the tee, and his sand save % is out of this world. He can brave the worst of bunkers.

Harrington won’t win unless he’s lucky and others unfortunate. But his experience and comfort with the course make him an excellent value pick to finish in the top 10 and a fine 3-balls bet on Thursday and Friday.

Bubba Watson, Paddy’s playing partner in a Thursday afternoon 3-some with unheralded Matt Wallace, currently sits at (+130) moneyline odds to lead the group after Round 1. Harrington is a choice value pick at (+190), especially considering that wind-swept greens are harder in the warm afternoon. Watson’s wayward shots will be punished while the veteran finds a way to scrape it around.

Tournament Winner Prediction: Justin Rose (+1600)

“The Dude” may not be as smooth as Jeff Bridges in the Big Lebowski. But his game looks to be shaping up at the right time for this tournament. Old ghosts such as Tiger Woods will be up-and-down as usual, Rory’s putting problems may be prohibitive, and Jordan Spieth is headed downhill. Rose could walk through the door, just as Harrington did when Tiger fell into a firth around a decade ago.

As for Dustin Johnson? He’s just as likely to win as Justin Rose. But I’m liking the latter’s futures line as a much-higher payoff than DJ’s 12/1 betting odds.

Take Justin Rose at 16/1 on a tournament-winner gamble.

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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