The 146th Open Championship Odds Preview

Leave a comment

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 Has Top Odds, Tiger Woods Making Charge on Masters Betting Lines

Leave a comment

Jordan Spieth has top odds and Tiger Woods is charging up the futures board, but recent history at Augusta National dictates fading those who have already won the green jacket.

Spieth is the +900 favorite on the 2018 Masters betting lines at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com, with the golf season’s first major due to commence on Thursday. All told, nine men in the field have odds of lower than +2000 (or 20/1), including Rory McIlroy (+1000), Justin Thomas (+1100), Dustin Johnson (+1100), Woods (+1400), Justin Rose (+1400), Bubba Watson (+1600), Jason Day (+1800) and Phil Mickelson (+1800).

However, only two recent champions – Mickelson in 2010 and Spieth in 2015 – have gone off at lower than +2000 odds. Woods is drawing a lot of action at many sportsbooks and it’s all well and good to indulge the thought of an all-time great writing a comeback story, but it will be his first major since 2015. Also, no one over age 40 has won the Masters since 1998.

Eight of the last nine major winners have been first-timers, with Spieth (2017 British Open) being the only exception in that span. Those trends don’t mean automatically having to rule out a favorite. Rose, who was the runner-up at the 2017 Masters, has had five top-10 finishes in the event and is also playing well so far this season, with three top-5 placings.

With a 7,435-yard course that is free of flat hole layouts, Augusta rewards golfers who are efficient with their approach. While there hasn’t been a repeat winner since Woods in 2001-02, defending champion Sergio Garcia (+2800) leads the PGA Tour in strokes gained: approach, while Thomas and Mickelson are also among the leaders.

Two-time winner Bubba Watson missed the cut in in three of the 2017 majors, including the Masters, but his recent win the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play is a reason to consider investing in him.

If one is bent on backing someone who is on the Yet To Win A Major Shortlist, there’s Paul Casey (+2200), who has finished sixth or better in his last three majors. A wrist ailment has affected Hideki Matsuyama (+3300) at times this season, but the Japanese star has finished 11th or higher in his last three starts at the Masters. Matsuyama’s odds are right in the range of several recent Masters champions.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

Tony Romo set to make PGA Tour debut at Punta Cana

Getty Images
Leave a comment

While much of the attention in golf this week will be focused on the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Tony Romo may send a few eyeballs toward the Caribbean.

The former quarterback and current CBS NFL analyst will make his PGA Tour debut this week, playing on a sponsor invite at the Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship in the Dominican Republic. The exemption was announced last month when Romo played as an amateur at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and he’s apparently been hard at work ever since.

“I’ll be treating it very serious,” Romo told reporters Tuesday. “My wife will tell you she hasn’t seen me much over the last month. But if you know me at all, I think you know if I care about something I’m going to commit to it 100 percent. So like I said. you’ll get the best I’ve got this week.”

Romo retired from the NFL last year and plays to a plus-0.3 handicap. In addition to his participation in the Pebble Beach event, he has tried to qualify for the U.S. Open multiple times and last month played a North Texas PGA mini-tour event as an amateur.

According to Romo, one of the key differences between pro football and golf is the fact that his former position is entirely about reactive decisions, while in golf “you’re trying to commit wholeheartedly before you ever pull the club out of your bag.”

“I’m not worried about getting hit before I hit the ball,” Romo said. “It’s at my own tempo, my own speed, in this sport. Sometimes that’s difficult, and sometimes that’s easier depending on the situation.”

Romo admitted that he would have preferred to have a couple extra weeks to prepare, but recently has made great strides in his wedge game which “was not up to any Tour standard.” The first-tee jitters can’t be avoided, but Romo hopes to settle in after battling nerves for the first three or four holes Thursday.

Romo hopes to derive an added comfort factor from his golf in the Dallas area, where he frequently plays with a group of Tour pros. While Steph Curry traded texts with a few pros before his tournament debut last summer on the Web.com Tour, Romo expects his phone to remain silent until he puts a score on the board.

“I think they’re waiting to either tell me ‘Congrats’ or ‘I knew it, terrible,'” Romo said. “Something along those lines. They’re probably going to wait to see which way the wind’s blowing before they send them.”

Romo will tee off at 8:10 a.m. ET Thursday alongside Dru Love and Denny McCarthy.