Best bets for The Open Championship at Royal St. George’s
The fourth and final major of the year is here, as the top golfers in the world tee it up at Royal St. George’s Golf Club in the 149th Open Championship.
Which players are the favorites this time around, who offers good odds and what props are worth considering?
Sports betting deputy editor David Bearman and betting analysts Chris “The Bear” Fallica, Joe Fortenbaugh, Anita Marks and Tyler Fulghum offer their best bets.
Odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill unless otherwise noted.
Bets to win
Rory McIlroy to win (+1600), Top-10 finish (+188), Top-20 finish (-110)
Fallica: Seems like everyone is down on Rory this week because of his last two events. He was also right in the thick of it on the back nine Sunday at Torrey Pines, which seems to be forgotten. In the last Open, he missed the cut at Portrush despite an incredible 2nd round. Prior to that, he’s gone T-2, T-4, T-5, Win in this championship. He’s commented how the course is “lush,” which almost seems like a tell that he likes the course. I’ll gladly be on the island on Rory being a must-play this week.
Brooks Koepka to win (+1600), Top-10 finish (+163)
Fallica: Koepka has said how this isn’t his favorite course, but he should be able to hit irons or something other than a driver off the tee quite a bit. He’s got three Top 10s in his last four Opens and at this price he’s an auto-play.
Brooks Koepka to win (+1600), Top American finisher (+800), Double Chance with Rahm (+550), Straight Forecast with Jon Rahm (+16500 DraftKings)
Marks: Brooksy is back, baby! His knee issue is in the rear view mirror, and is sporting three top 5s in his last four tournaments. Brooks loves the major stage, finishing 7th or better in 11 of last 15 majors! He is one of the best golfers playing on links and coastal courses, considering he spent a lot of time in Europe after college.
Jordan Spieth to win (+1800); Top-10 finish (+200)
Bearman: What? Taking a guy I picked to miss the cut at the U.S. Open a few weeks ago? Yep. Different track here. At the Open Championship, and especially at St. George’s, with crazy undulating fairways and greens, pot bunkers and fescue, you need to be strong tee-to-green, exceptional around the green, have the ability to scramble well and get long putts close. Enter Jordan Spieth, who is 19th in shots gained tee-to-green, 8th around the green, 6th in short game and 7th in overall putting average. I have faded Spieth at every tight course in America and for good reasons: he’s 188th in driving accuracy and 114th in Strokes Gained Off the Tee. But that major hurdle is not as big at the Open links courses, where everyone is going to see their ball bounce all over the fairway hills into the fescue and bunkers. It’s about how you scramble from those spots and the creativity needed to play the undulating approaches and greens that wins you the Open Championship. Beyond the metrics, which a lot of people throw out when it comes to links-style courses, the Open winner has come from those who have a previous calendar win (7 of the last 9 winners did) and had previous Open success (each of last 9 winners had at least one previous T10). Spieth won the Valero in April and his Open resume reads T4-T30-W-T9-T20 the last 5 years. After a rough start to 2021, Spieth has carded Top 20s in 11 of his last 13 events, including eight top 10s. He also gets off to fast starts, with a -13 score to par since 2013, best of any player per ESPN’s Stats and Information department. Is it time for major No. 4? He has the game to get it done.
Louis Oosthuizen to win (+3000); Top-10 finish (+240)
Bearman: He’s going to win another one, right? Since his triumph at St. Andrews in 2010, Louie has six runner-up finishes at majors, the most of any player. That includes each of the last three non-Masters, finishing behind Jon Rahm at last month’s U.S. Open and Phil Mickelson at the PGA. Oh, and he finished 3rd at last year’s U.S. Open at Winged Foot. Besides the “he’s due” mantra, he’s also fits nicely this week. We mentioned scrambling and putting with Spieth. Well, Louie is even better. The South African leads the Tour in shots gained putting and in shots gained short-game and is 10th around the green, which includes 14th in scrambling and 4th in scrambling from the rough. And his form hasn’t just been good at majors. His five previous events before the BMW International: 2, T8, T2, T18, T2. Sign me up.
Patrick Cantlay to win (+3300); Top-10 finish (+275)
Bearman: Of all the golfers I am playing this week, Cantlay has the fewest Open appearances as this will only be his 3rd. I value experience here a lot, so I am avoiding most guys with less than four appearances but Cantlay is hard to pass up at this number. He already has two wins this season and is 4th tee-to-green, 9th around the green and 6th in shots gained total. He is 2nd on Tour in Scrambling (behind Webb Simpson) and 3rd in bogey avoidance. His two previous Opens were T-12 and T-41 and he’s had good results at two of three majors this year with a T-15 at Torrey Pines and T-23 at the PGA Championship.
Scottie Scheffler to win (+4000), Top-10 finish (+450), Top-20 finish (+150)
Fallica: Scheffler has gone T-7, T-8, T-18, T-19 and T-4 in his last five majors. Mix in a T-3 at Memorial, a 5th place finish at the WGC Workday and a runner-up in the match play and you’ve got a guy on the cusp of a huge win. While its not always the best comp, he at least showed last week he can play well in these conditions with a 12th place finish in the Scottish Open.
Branden Grace to win (+6600); Top-20 finish (+250); +105 vs. Daniel Berger
Bearman: I always like to take a longer shot every week, especially at a major where the average odds of the last 10 champions is around 64-1 per ESPN golf researcher David Gordon. This is double the average U.S. Open (32-1) and Masters (31-1) winners. At St. George’s, the last two Champion Golfer of the Year have been Darren Clark (125-1 in 2011) and Ben Curtis (300-1 in 2003). While I do like Corey Conners at 100-1 and former champion Francesco Molinari can be had at 125-1, I am rolling with South African Branden Grace at 66-1 odds. He checks the same boxes I mentioned above with Spieth, having won in Puerto Rico in February and has had previous Open success (T-20 in 2015 and T-6 in 2017). He also done well on other links-style courses, winning at St. Andrews in 2012 at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and has played well recently with a 4th place finish at the Memorial and T-7 at the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout to win (+6600), Top-10 finish (+650), Top-20 finish (+275), Top South African Player (+500)
Fallica: It’s been well documented that the last two times The Open has been played at Royal St. George’s, its produced a pair of unlikely winners. Well, world No. 45 Christian Bezuidenhout is one of two long shots I will play this week. He’s consistently made cuts and was in position for a much better finish in the last two majors before struggling on Sunday. He hit a lot of greens in both of his last two European Tour events and the U.S. Open. If he can continue that, putts can fall and he can be right in this at a very big price. There are some better numbers than 66-1 out there, so shop around.
Chez Reavie to miss cut (-162)
Fallica: Reavie played six rounds at The Open and shot better than 72 once, missing the cut all three times. That’s enough evidence for me.
Jon Rahm Top-10 finish (-110), Top European finisher (+350)
Marks: Rahm’s game has never been better (1st in SG overall). Winning the U.S. Open takes the pressure of a major victory off his back, and we should see a more confident Rahm moving forward. He played well last week at the Scottish Open, and I expect him to pick up where he left off.
Kevin Streelman to miss cut (+100)
Fallica: Streelman made the cut in 2019 at Portrush after a miracle 2nd round 65, but has never broken par in the 1st round of his five Opens. That again will leave him with work to do in the 2nd round and this time I think he’ll come up short this time — and for the 3rd time in six Opens.
Branden Grace Top-40 finish (+110 DK)
Marks: Grace’s game is coming around (T-7 at US Open). He has home on a links course in South Africa and hits a low solid ball, perfect for this weekend’s weather conditions.
Billy Horschel to miss cut (+110)
Fallica: He’s missed the cut in five of his six Opens, making it only at St. Andrews. I’ll take my chances on six of seven at plus money.
Louie Oosthuizen Top-20 finish (+120), Top former winner (+400)
Marks: Louie is the bridesmaid of golf majors (two 2nd place finishes this season). Very much like Brooks, Louie shines on the big stage (six career 2nd place major finishes). His approach game is on point, and he is putting better this season.
Robert MacIntyre Top-30 finish (+138 DK), Top Lefty (+200)
Marks: This Scotsman is a sneaky good play this week. He thrives on link style courses and finished in the top 10 in his last Open Major at Royal Portrush. Hasn’t missed the weekend in his 4 major starts, and is playing with a lot more confidence.
Ian Poulter to miss cut (+163)
Fallica: Poulter has already mentioned how he really doesn’t like the course and I wonder which rota courses he does like. Since a T-3 finish in 2013 at Muirfield, he’s missed four of the five cuts at The Open. Because of that Sunday 63 last week, we’re getting a nice price here.
Rory McIlroy Top-10 finish (+188)
Bearman: To me, McIlroy is the most confusing player on Tour this season. Bear and I have gone back and forth on Rory all season as some weeks I like him and he doesn’t and some weeks he likes him and I don’t. Why? Because he has been all over the map. He started the season with five top 10s in 10 worldwide events, then missed the cut badly at The Players and Masters and didn’t make it out of group play at the match play, while admitting he was tinkering with his swing. Then turns around and wins Wells Fargo, plays poorly as a favorite at the PGA Championship, contends at U.S. Open and then misses cut last week at Scottish Open. Hard to judge Rory this year. One thing is known… he plays well at The Open, going W, T-5, T-4, T-2 from 2014-18 before a missed cut at home Royal Portrush. Which Rory shows up this week? Who knows. Playing it a little safe with a top-10 finish, but can’t really argue Bear’s play on him to win.
Fulghum: Rory has a tremendous history of the backdoor Top-10 and at The Open Championship. McIlroy racked up three straight Top-5 finishes from 2016-18 and, of course, won this event back in 2014.
Jordan Spieth Top-10 finish (+188)
Fulgham: Spieth’s game, built on grinding and making up shots on and around the green, is so perfectly suited for Open Championship golf. He already has one Claret Jug at home, his game is is good form, and he’s the only player in the field to rank Top-15 over his last 100 rounds in: SG: Approach, SG: Around the Green, SG: Tee-to-Green, Scrambling, and Bogey Avoidance
Justin Rose Top-20 finish (+225)
Bearman: This is a classic case of “don’t let the bad numbers get in the way of a good bet”. Call it what it is… Justin Rose has not been great in 2021. His metrics across the board, except for putting, have been awful. He only has two top 10s, but they were both at majors. He led for three rounds in April at the Masters and was right there at the PGA Championship. We noted above that sometimes at an event that is unlike any other (this one), metrics can only take you so far. His previous history at the Open Championship, as well as his overall great play at majors, is the reason for the cap here. Rose has finished in the top 25 in five of his last six Open Championships, including a T2 in 2018 at Carnoustie. The former world No. 1 has finished in the top 25 in 26 of 38 majors dating back to 2012. Even with him not playing as World No. 1 Rose, I have faith he can finish in the top 20.
Bryson DeChambeau to miss the cut (+250)
Fortenbaugh: I’m fading DeChambeau every which way entering Thursday’s opening round based on two key factors. First, the 27-year-old will be working with a new caddie after Tim Tucker, DeChambeau’s previous looper, abruptly quit just before the start of the Rocket Mortgage Classic. For those who may not recall, DeChambeau went on to miss the cut at that event back in early July. It’s going to take some time for the new pairing to gel and I’m not so sure the Open Championship is the place where that’s going to happen. After all, DeChambeau’s three previous starts in this event have resulted in two missed cuts and a T51 in 2018.
Fallica: Cut, T-51, cut in three Opens. Can he think his way around links golf and potentially massive penalties for missing the fairway? Or could he be like Shane Lowry who missed the cut four straight years at The Open prior to his 2019 win? He was terrible at the Rocket Mortage Classic and who knows where his mind is right now.
Paul Casey Top-10 finish (+350); Top Englishman (+600)
Bearman: What a great story it would be if Casey could finally win the big one. Out of all the elder statesman still on Tour, he is among the best to not win one. The 18-time PGA/European Tour winner has 12 top-10s in his major career, including each of the last two majors (T-7 at U.S. Open, T-4 at PGA). He’s 7th T2G, 2nd on approach, 29th around the green and 7th total. The major reason I am not picking him to win (besides the amount of times he hasn’t won) is his putting. Casey is 131st on Tour in putting, which will hurt his chances. His two top 10s at the Open came over a decade ago, so the hope is recent form and solid play at the world’s biggest events (also T-5 at TPC) gets him a Top 10 at +350.
Alexander Noren Top-20 finish (+350)
Bearman: Noren has gone T-6, T-17, T-11 in his last 3 Open Championships and also finished T-9 in 2012. He’s had a resurgence lately with a T-4 in the Rocket Mortgage two weeks ago and a T-13 at the Memorial last month.
Tony Finau Top-10 finish (+450), Top-20 finish (+150)
Fallica: Tony Finau, links golf specialist? Well, the run he’s had at The Open suggest he enjoys links golf. He’s played four Opens and gone T-18, T-27, T-9 and 3rd. Yes, this is about as bad a form as you’ll find him in, having missed the last two cuts (U.S. Open and Travelers), but his major track record of posting Top 10 and Top 290 finishes is too good to pass up.
Webb Simpson Top-10 finish (+500); Top-20 finish (+225); make cut (-225)
Bearman: I went back and forth on this one as Webb is one of my favorite players to pick week in and week out and more importantly, leads the Tour in scrambling, one of the biggest metrics I am looking at this week. That alone is why he is on my board. He’s had moderate success at the Open, making the cut in seven of eight appearances, with a career-best T-12 just two years ago. That probably makes him a better DFS play this week than taking him at 40-1 to win, which is why I dropped him down to a top 10 at 5-to-1 and top 20 at +225. If you are okay with the large price, taking him at -225 to make the cut isn’t the worst play either, though he missed the cut last month at Torrey Pines. Hopefully his scrambling ability saves him a few shots on the field and leads us to a pay day.
Alex Noren Top-10 finish (+800), Top-20 finish (+335), Top Scandinavian Player (+250)
Fallica: Prior to missing the cut in the John Deere, Noren had strung together quite a few good results. Maybe his mind was on The Open last week and its a good buy low opportunity on the 86th ranked player in the world. This is a guy who was 9th at Portrush, T-6th in 2017, 9th in 2012 and at RSG in 2011, fired an opening-round 69 before struggling with a 76 in the 2nd round. He’s the other longshot which interests me this week.
Tony Finau (-162) vs. Justin Rose
Fallica: Rose is one of those guys you can never be quite sure about when fading in a H2H, as he made the cut on the number in 2018, then finished T-2. His recent form has been representative of that — a mixed bag. Off a couple of missed cuts, I expect Finau to play well this week.
Justin Thomas (-140) over Bryson DeChambeau
Dustin Johnson (-133) over Bryson DeChambeau
Round 1 match: Jordan Spieth over Bryson DeChambeau (-124 DK)
Marks: Spieth loves playing on this side of the pond, hitting off of undulating fairways and using the creativity in his short game to score well. Bryson’s “grip it and rip it” style will get him in trouble in the sand. Don’t be surprised if Bryson misses the cut on Friday.
Xander Schauffele (-120) vs. Justin Thomas
The 2018 runner-up and 54-hole leader at The Open has a much better track record here than Thomas does and has been in much better form.
Sergio Garcia -120 vs. Ian Poulter
Fallica: Garcia posted a Top 10 at Royal St. George’s in 2011 and really does have an incredibly consistent record in The Open, whereas Poulter has missed the cut more often than not lately.
Matthew Fitzpatrick (-103) over Bryson DeChambeau (DK)
Marks: Fitzpatrick’s game is on point (five top-10 finishes this season). He played well in the Scottish Open, and another golfer sporting a low ball to counter the wind. Meanwhile, DeChambeau has a new caddie and I expect some growing pains. He also has missed the cut in two of three Open starts.
Scottie Scheffler (+105) vs. Tyrrell Hatton
Fallica: Hatton is often overvalued in this event and all majors, actually. He posted a Top 10 at Portrush and at Troon, but in his other six Opens he has five missed cuts and a T-51 finish. It’s Scheffler’s first Open but his recent performance and statistics indicate he’s a contender.