The 146th Open Championship Odds Preview

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Being the favorite is a millstone more often than not at the British Open, which should give one pause when looking at Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth at the top of the futures board for the third major tournament of the season.

Johnson and Spieth are 1A and 1B to win the year’s third major at Royal Birkdale this weekend, with each listed at +1400 on the odds to win the British Open at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

However, no pre-tournament favorite has won the British Open – or the Open championship as Britons call it – since 2001. With its tight fairways, Birkdale puts a premium on driving accuracy more than distance and also rewards good putting.

The latter has been Johnson’s bugaboo this season, plus he hasn’t finished higher than ninth at the British Open since 2011. Spieth has struggled with accuracy off the tee – where he’s ranked 121st on the PGA Tour – and that bodes poorly for winning at Birkdale.

Rickie Fowler (+1600), with six career top-fives in majors, seems ready for a breakthrough and, of course, is very straight off the tee. Fowler is probably the best player to never win a major now that Sergio Garcia (+1800), who has traditionally played well at this event, has a green jacket from the Masters. As always, what will make or break Garcia is his putting.

Usual suspects such as Jon Rahm (+1600), Rory McIlroy (+2000), Hideki Matsuyama and Justin Rose (+2000) are also high up on the board at online betting sites.

It might be a little much to expect the 22-year-old Rahm to stay even-keel across four rounds on a very challenging course. Within that price range, Matsuyama might be the best play – the consensus is that winning a major is just a matter of when for the Japanese star, and Birkdale could be bountiful for a player in the top 10 of the PGA in greens in regulation, holes per eagle and birdies average.

Tommy Fleetwood (+2200), who grew up two miles from Birkdale, has had a meteoric rise to 14th in the world rankings, but being the hometown rooting interest often means a more intense spotlight that can unravel a golfer mentally.

Defending champion Henrik Stenson (+2500) is being offered at an enticing price because he’s missed the cuts in four of his last five PGA events. However, Stenson’s Swedish countryman, Alexander Noren (+4000), is a bona fide darkhorse who has six wins on the European Tour over the last two years. Noren is the better play of the two Swedes.

Brooks Koepka (+3300) will be playing his first tournament since winning the U.S. Open a month ago, so it’s hard to know how sharp he’ll be technically. Observers across the pond see similarities in game between Koepka and Peter Uihlein (+12500), who’s among the darkhouses.

One small trend of note is that the last three players to win the British Open at Birkdale finished seventh or higher in the Masters that year and made the cut at the U.S. Open. Garcia, Paul Casey (+3300), Matt Kuchar (+5000) and Kevin Chappell (+15000) are the only ones teeing it up this week who meet that criteria. With his four top-12 finishes since March and some sharp work with the irons all season, Casey could surprise.

Jordan Spieth betting favorite heading into the TOUR Championship

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It is mathematically possible for Jordan Spieth to capture the FedExCup title – and the $10-million bonus – without winning the TOUR Championship. Perhaps that might be a prod to look beyond laying chalk for the PGA Tour playoffs’ finale.

Spieth, who’s first in the FedExCup standings, is listed as a +500 betting favorite to win the TOUR Championship, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Like Spieth, four others in the 30-man field converging on the 7,385-yard par-70 layout at East Lake in Atlanta would win the FedExCup automatically by winning the tournament. That includes (in order of seeding, not price), Justin Thomas (+1100), Dustin Johnson (+750), Mark Leishman (+1800) and Jon Rahm (+1200).

Spieth’s average finish since June has been 7.7, so it’s a safe bet he’ll continue his strong play. But a situation could arise where, if none of the other top five seeds are in contention, he might focus on the Cup and not the tournament itself, which has a slightly smaller payout of $8.8 million.

Johnson has been outside the top 15 in his last two starts, so it might be best to fade him. Leishman (+1800) is coming in hot after his five-shot win in the BMW Championship, but do remember this will be just his second time in the event. If you’re basing your pick on recent performance, Rahm has three top-5 finishes in a row and is in the top 20 on tour in strokes gained: approach-the-green, which is a good quality on a long par-70 such as East Lake.

The highest price of any player outside of those top five seeds belongs to Rickie Fowler (+1000). He was 10th at this event in 2015, the last time he played in it, and he’s second on the entire Tour in strokes gained.

Likewise, Justin Rose (+1200) has two second-place finishes at the TOUR Championship in the last four years.

Incidentally, Hideki Matsuyama (+1800) is ninth in the approach-the-green stat, which might make him a wild card this weekend even though his results have been inauspicious of late. Another darkhorse play with an enticing price on the golf betting lines is Matt Kuchar, who has had three top-10 finishes in the last four tournaments and is very steady, a handy trait to have at a par-70 course.

Each of the past seven FedExCup champions has secured it by winning the TOUR Championship. The law of averages would indicate that streak might end sooner rather than later.

PGA Championship Odds: McIlroy, Fowler coming in hot for Quail Hollow

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The combo of a soggy course and a season-long trend of first-time winners could come into play at the PGA championship this week at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Two-time winner Rory McIlroy is the +700 favorite on the odds to win the PGA Championship at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Jordan Spieth (+800), who’s less than a month removed from his British Open victory, is a close second favorite, with WGC-Bridgestone Invitational winner Hideki Matsuyama (+1100), world No. 1 Dustin Johnson (+1200) and Rickie Fowler (+1600) also high on the board.

Quail Hollow is a fixture on the PGA Tour, hosting the Wells Fargo Championship each May. The course has had an aggressive renovation to get it “major ready.” Rain is also expected for all four days, which could create an advantage for long hitters who don’t need a huge roll from tee shots. A course also plays differently in the summer than it does in the spring.

Playing the chalk is justifiable. McIlroy has two Tour victories on this course and had a strong fifth at the Bridgestone last weekend at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio. However the course renovations factor into scoring, he’s still been dominant at Quail Hollow. It’s probably reasonable to fade Spieth, given his wonky putting last weekend. It’s just tough to win two majors in a row.

Among the players with odds in the 10/1 to 20/1 range, Dustin Johnson has simply been too inconsistent to inspire much confidence. Fowler will be playing at the course where he got his first Tour victory and he’s playing well, as evidenced by successive 67s at the Bridgestone. He’s also third in the Tour’s total driving stat, which suggests his strengths are suited to Quail Hollow.

Similar things can be said about Matsuyama, who like Fowler is still in search of his first major championship. The 25-year-old Japanese standout won the Bridgestone in a showing that was a testament to his burgeoning talent, and he’s also 12th in driving accuracy.

If the weather is as wet as promised, it plays to the advantage of Brooks Koepka (+2500), the U.S. Open champion who is sixth in driving distance this season. Koepka’s top-10 finish at the British Open indicates that he is not some big-driving one-hit wonder.

The value pick might well be Daniel Berger (+5500), who has three top-five finishes and a win in his last six tournaments. Berger was also in the top 20 at the 2016 Wells Fargo tourney at Quail Hollow. Two-time major champion Zach Johnson (+6600) also has a high price that belies that he was runner-up at the Bridgestone last weekend.

Jimmy Walker, the defending champion, is listed at +10000, only slightly below the +12500 price he had at online gambling sites prior to his unexpected victory in 2016.

This will be the second-last PGA Championship held in August; starting in 2019, it will move to May and become the second major on the golf calendar.