Odds on Open Championship

By Chris DatresJuly 15, 2008, 4:00 pm
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Open ChampionshipGreetings, lads and lassies. The stakes have been pulled up on the Odds traveling circus and hammered down in blustery Scotland. Yes, I know Royal Birkdale is in Southport. It makes for a hellish commute.
 
I have the plaid kilt on with the tassels on the shoes and Ill let you figure out whether theres anything on underneath the kilt.
 
Judging by the volume of hate mail I received after the U.S. Open (none), you forget quickly. My analysis of Tigers comeback couldnt have been further off base. Remind me never to doubt him again, even if hes crawling down the fairway. I guess I had forgotten his romp at Bay Hill a few years ago when he had food poisoning.
 
On to Royal Birkdale and the names near the top are going to be a bit different than what has been written here in the previous three installments.
 
THE CONTENDERS
 
Sergio Garcia (3-1): El Nino had the claret jug on his putter face last year and the ball just kissed the edge of the cup. This year, its his to win. As always, Sergios fortunes rise and fall with that putter and he thinks he may have finally found something after a 23-putt final round at the European Open two weeks ago. For you fashionistas out there, Sergio has thrilled us the last two years with a Tweety Bird outfit (Hoylake final round) and the Burger King drive-thru look (Carnoustie third round). I suggest an Oakland Raiders fan look similar to what he wore in the final round of The PLAYERS. All he was missing that Sunday was the skull on his shoulder.
 
Lee Westwood (4-1): The stocky Brit had the U.S. Open on his putter face and somehow left the putt short to get into the playoff. Hes playing maybe the absolute best he has in at least five years. And you can bet that if he holes the winning putt on Sunday, the party that will commence will be a big one. Just remember us little people who picked you so high, Lee!!
 
Ernie Els (6-1): Golf Central asked the question last week if Ernie was ready to win another Open. The math world says that he is. Since a T29 at Royal Birkdale in 1998, the Big Easy has gone 2nd, Win, 2nd, and 3rd in even-year Open Championships. Throw in the fact that longtime caddie Ricci Roberts is back on the bag after an 18-month separation and Ernie might finally get his groove back.
 
Padraig Harrington (8-1): The last player not named Tiger Woods to win back-to-back Opens was Tom Watson 25 years ago when he completed the feat atRoyal Birkdale. Paddys been battling a neck injury he tweaked at the European Open but it didnt curtail him from winning the Irish PGA last weekend. These Open courses are set up perfectly for Paddys game and it would be something to see him hoisting his young son on the 18th green once again.
 
Phil Mickelson (10-1): Dear Phil, in the future, could you please drop a hint that youre going to plan to play a major championship without a driver before I install you as the favorite in that tournament? It would be much appreciated. Seriously, how does a golfer of his impeccable pedigree pull a stunt like what he did in the first two rounds at Torrey Pines? Creativity does not win you major championships. That being said, Birkdale is a prime place to test that creativity ' you know, how many different ways can you extricate yourself from fescue, gorse, and pot bunkers? Maybe Phil will put eight wedges in the bag this week.

 
THE SLEEPERS
 
Robert Karlsson (14-1): When Im captaining a game of pick-up ball at the local playground, I want this tall Swede as my small forward. At Torrey Pines, his game was nearly good enough for him to make a splash on the American stage. As it was, hes third on the European Tour Order of Merit and has finished outside the top 10 exactly once since March (thats eight tournaments).
 
Angel Cabrera (20-1): The Duck may have found his kryptonite on these Scottish courses when he took three shots to run it up a swale on the 12th hole at Loch Lomond on Saturday. And, of course, we know that Royal Birkdale doesnt have any of those collection area-type locations, right?
 
Anthony Kim (25-1): Hes already had a pair of impressive wins on a pair of classic courses (Quail Hollow & Congressional). A win on this track would be the ultimate breakthrough. I dont think AK has quite the game yet for links golf. However, hell be much higher when the PGA Championship odds come out in August. I wonder how the Brits will like his brash AK belt buckle that hes sure to wear this week.
 
Justin Rose (30-1): As a 17-year-old amateur, Rose holed out a wedge for birdie on the 18th hole here in 1998. And while he did win an Order of Merit last year, the expectations that came from that one wedge shot have not exactly been met. All of those problems will disappear if hes holding the claret jug on Sunday afternoon.
 
Stewart Cink (40-1): Hes gonna win one, folks. Stewie finally got the monkey off his back with his win at the Travelers Championship. Hes been close in a number of big-money events in the last 3 years and either this week or the PGA would be a prime place for him to finally grab that first major championship.
 
Adam Scott (40-1): Odds seem a bit low for the worlds No. 3 player? Maybe so, but since winning the Byron Nelson back in April, Scott hasnt exactly followed up on it. Add to that his still tender right pinky that he slammed shut in a car door (Jeff Kent still snickers at that story) and his propensity now to miss 2-foot putts (see 18th hole, round 2 at U.S. Open and 10th hole, final round at Scottish Open). That spells a very dangerous brew.
 
Andres Romero (50-1): The good news: there are no walls bordering burns that might send a 3-wood from deep rough ricocheting out of bounds on the 71st hole when hes got a 2-shot lead in the Open Championship. The bad news: despite winning the week after that disaster at Carnoustie and in New Orleans back in March, he only has two other top-10s worldwide this year. However, he can still win low Argentine.
 
Mark OMeara (100-1): Dont say I didnt give you a big-time longshot. The 1998 Open Champion at Birkdale hasnt really done anything this year to warrant a mention but you have to give some respect to the last guy to win at this venue.
 

OFF THE BOARD
 
Tiger Woods: With Tiger missing a major for the first time since the 1996 PGA, the rest of the field wont know what to do. Just to stay in practice, a number of them will roll over in the final round. Tiger, I hope watching this event on TV isnt too much to bear. Get well soon.
 
Kenny Perry: If I was doing an Odds write-up for the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee, hed be the even-odds favorite. But there wont be any odds for opposite-field events. Perry has used three wins in the last six weeks to cement his place on the Ryder Cup team and has even taken over the FedExCup lead (if you subtract Tiger from the mix). So riddle me this ' how many Ryder Cup moments do you remember? Certainly, the Justin Leonard putt in 99 and Jack Nicklauss concession to Tony Jacklin in 1969 come to mind immediately. My point is: golf memories are made at major championships not Ryder Cups. Perry is skipping his second straight major championship opportunity, and at age 47, he doesnt have many good ones left. So hell go to Milwaukee and has a great chance to win there and hell be at Valhalla representing the Red, White, and Blue. No truth to the rumor that hell skip Bridgestone to play Reno-Tahoe or sign up to play Mayakoba and Puerto Rico next season.
 
Mother Nature: In my opinion, the best part of watching Open Championships is to see just how well the players adjust to the elements. Whether its sun or wind or hail or sideways rain, Britain never disappoints in throwing some extremes at the players. And just so you know, Mother Nature could win this championship. Storm (Graeme) and Blizard (Rohan) are exempt into the event.
 

THE PROPS
 
A ROSE-Y BEGINNING
*10 years ago, then amateur Justin Rose splashed on the world scene with that electrifying hole-out on the 72nd hole. With that in mind, who will be this years low amateur?
 
Ben Hebert +200
Rohan Blizard +300
Chris Wood +350
Thomas Sherreard +450
Reinier Saxton +500
 

AN UNFUL-PHIL-ING MATCH
*Also in 1998, the third round was met with some of Mother Natures finest fury ' rain, wind, and cold. No players broke par that day, including three who topped out at 85. One of those three players was Phil Mickelson (bonus trivia ' name the othersanswer below).
 
Number of players shooting 85 or worse this week ' 2
 
DALY DOUBLE
*He may have to beg for sponsors invites to get into PGA TOUR events but John Daly can play the Open Championship until hes old and gray, thanks to his 1995 playoff win at St. Andrews. So with one hand over our eyes as we watch him traverse Royal Birkdale
 
Dalys highest score on a hole this week ' 8
 
SCORES ON THE FORES
*The most important props of all (par 70):
 
Lowest score shot this week ' 64
Highest score shot this week ' 85
Winning score ' 275 (-4 )

 
TRIVIA ANSWER ' Dudley Hart and Bob May were the other two unlucky souls who tied Mickelson on that wet, blustery day in 1998. Hopefully for all involved, Mother Nature keeps her nose out of this Championship.
 
Email your thoughts to Chris Datres
 

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    Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 4:00 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, GolfChannel.com writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:

    The Monday morning headline will be …

    REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.

    RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.

    MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.

    JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.



    Who or what will be the biggest surprise?

    HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.

    LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.

    BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.

    COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.



    Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?

    HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.

    LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.

    BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.

    COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.



    What will be the winning score?

    HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.

    LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.

    BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.

    COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.

    @kharms27 on Instagram

    Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

    Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

    Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

    This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

    While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

    Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

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    McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

    Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

    “It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

    “Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

    He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.  

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    Height of irony: Phil putts in front of 'rules' sign

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 1:36 pm

    A picture is worth 1,000 words and potentially two strokes for playing a moving ball under Rule 14-5 but not Rule 1-2.

    Phil Mickelson has been having some fun during his Open prep at Carnoustie hitting flop shots over human beings, but the irony of this photo below is too obvious to go over anyone's head.

    Mickelson also tried tapping down fescue two weeks ago at The Greenbrier, incurring another two-shot penalty.

    And so we're left to wonder about what Phil asked himself back at Shinnecock Hills: "The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’”