The Open Championship Betting Preview: Sleepers, Values, And Our Pick To Win

Posted By Esten McLaren on July 17, 2019

The 2019 Open Championship is the 148th running of golf’s oldest event. The PGA Tour’s final Major of the year will be played from July 18-21 at Royal Portrush – Dunluce Links in Portrush, Northern Ireland. It is the first time the event has been played at Royal Portrush since 1951 when Max Faulkner won his only career Major championship 68 years ago. Here, we look at the best 2019 Open Championship betting picks.

The Open will be the final Major of the 2019 PGA Tour season after the PGA Championship was moved up to mid-May between the Masters and US Open. We have seen three different Major winners so far this year. Tiger Woods claimed his fifth green jacket and 15th Major title at April’s Masters. Brooks Koepka won his second consecutive PGA Championship at Bethpage Black to regain the No. 1 spot in the Official World Golf RankingGary Woodland won his first career Major at the US Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links.

Woods will try once again to pull within two Major titles of Jack Nicklaus‘ all-time record of 18. Koepka looks to pull within one of the career grand slam with his fifth Major championship. Rory McIlroy and Portrush’s hometown hero Graeme McDowell are among the handful of golfers in the field looking to make Northern Ireland proud in the PGA’s long-awaited return.

The course: Royal Portrush – Dunluce Links

Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland was originally designed by Harry Colt. The course is named after the nearby Dunluce Castle and is nestled along the north coast of Northern Ireland with several holes playing alongside the Atlantic Ocean.

It underwent a series of renovations overseen by Martin Ebert in 2015 which included the construction of brand new holes at the 7th and 8th, in preparation of hosting the 2019 Open Championship. Dunluce Links now measures 7,344 yards and will play as a par 71 under championship conditions.

The four par 3s measure between 177 and 236 yards. The longest is the 16th and known as ‘Calamity Corner,’ or just ‘Calamity’ to the locals. Golfers must clear a deep ravine in front and to the side of the green. The par 4s range from 374 to 482 yards. Seven are shorter than 450 while four exceed the threshold. The longest par 5 is 592 yards while the shortest is a modest 532.

As with any Open Championship course, deep pot bunkers are a principle hazard and are scattered throughout the grounds. Ocean-side winds, brisk morning temperatures and the omnipresent risk of rain represent the staple Open conditions.

The course last hosted the 2012 Irish OpenJamie Donaldson, once ranked as high as No. 23 in the OWGR but now sits 673rd after a surprise T9 finish in a loaded field at last week’s Scottish Open, won the event at minus-18. Rafa Cabrera Bello, currently ranked No. 34 in the world, finished as a co-runner-up. McIlroy and 2018 Open Championship winner Francesco Molinari finished T10. The full leaderboard can be seen here if you like to consider course history, but remember, the 7th and 8th holes are brand new and the course has been significantly lengthened.

Key stats to consider for the 2019 Open Championship

Without much relevant course history outside of the 2012 Irish Open played on a considerably different version of Dunluce Links, we’re left tailoring stats to the course and the conditions. My model at Fantasy National will be looking at Strokes Gained: Ball StrikingStrokes Gained: Around the GreenDouble Bogeys AvoidedSand Saves, and Par 4 Efficiency: 400-450 Yards. We’ll look at the most recent 24 rounds for each player in the field.

Previous experience and performance in Major championships – and especially The Open Championship – are highly important. Be sure to check recent results on the European Tour, where many of the PGA’s top golfers have been playing the last couple weeks in preparation of Royal Portrush.

2019 Open Championship betting picks: Sleepers and value bets

Adam Scott +2800 (FanDuel Sportsbook)

Scott leads the stat model with top-11 ranks in all but Sand Saves. He is the field leader in SG: Around the Green. The 38-year-old has just one Major title on his resume, but he finished in the top 10 at both the PGA Championship and US Open, and T18 at the Masters. He has 19 top-10 finishes in Majors, including four at The Open.

The Aussie hasn’t won since winning twice on the PGA circuit in 2016, but he has risen to No. 17 in the OWGR after finishing 2018 at No. 41. Only two players are gaining more total strokes per round than Scott’s 2.155. He has been particularly strong and consistent in all stats around the green, outside of an average sand game. Bettors won’t need to worry about that if he is able to stay out of the bunkers altogether.

Webb Simpson +7500 (FanDuel Sportsbook)

Simpson claimed his top Open finish last year with a T12 at Carnoustie. He finished T5 at this year’s Masters, T29 at the PGA Championship, and T16 at the US Open. The 2012 US Open winner is up to No. 19 in the OWGR, but he has just the 37th best odds to win The Open at DraftKings.

A strong value bet, Simpson has played very well in 2019. He made the cut in 14 of his first 15 events with four top 10s, including the year’s first Major in Augusta, Ga. He is well-rounded in the key stats and leads the entire field in Double Bogeys Avoided over everyone’s last 24 rounds.

Rafa Cabrera Bello +6500 (FanDuel Sportsbook)

Course history is more of an added boost for Bello, as he’ll enter Open Week in excellent form. He finished T4 at last week’s Irish Open and he collected a T3 at June’s BMW International Open. RCB has never won on the PGA Tour, but he finished T4 at the 2017 Open Championship after winning the Scottish Open in a playoff the same year.

His preparation in the UK (he finished T9 at the Scottish Open) should prove beneficial, as the world’s 34th-ranked player goes for his first Major title. He ranks eighth in the field in Sand Saves and first in Par 4 Efficiency at the selected length.

Dylan Frittelli +15000 (FanDuel Sportsbook)

This sort of value for Frittelli, who’s fresh off a win at the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic to book his spot at Royal Portrush, is too great to pass up completely. The win vaulted him from 133rd to 92nd in the OWGR. The South African ranked as high as 44th early in the 2018 season and just picked up his first PGA victory, albeit in a weak field. He has won twice in Europe, as recently as the 2017 Mauritius Open, and warrants at least a small wager at the top of his game.

The 29-year-old made 14 of 20 cuts on the PGA Tour this season, and he had three top 10s on the European Tour in 2018.

Adam Hadwin +30000 (FanDuel Sportsbook)

Hadwin finished in the top six in two of his last three events and enters The Open with five top 10s in 20 events this season. The Canadian finished T35 in his second appearance at The Open last year, and his T29 at this year’s PGA Championship was his second-best finish in a Major. He is 40th in the stat model but ranks in the top 90 in each of the key stats, led by a 21st in Par 4 Efficiency. Always capable of putting together a hot round with the putter, Hadwin ranked seventh at the 3M Open with 1.59 Strokes Gained: Putting per round, according to Data Golf.

2019 Open Championship betting picks: Golfers to avoid


Jordan Spieth +4300 (FanDuel Sportsbook)

Spieth, the 2017 Open champion, remains among the favorites at a Major in 2019. He finished T3 at the PGA Championship but was six shots back of Koepka and never really seemed a threat to win. He has three top 10s in 18 events this year; however, he is coming off a missed cut at the Travelers Championship following his 65th-place finish at the US Open.

Spieth has made just three eagles in 1,080 holes played. He ranks just 94th in the field in doubles avoided and can quickly find himself in trouble without the same scrambling excellence he frequently showed a few years ago.

Francesco Molinari +2500 (FanDuel Sportsbook)

Yes, Molinari showed well in the 2012 Irish Open, but unlike Cabrera Bello, he isn’t entering the 2019 Open in strong form. The Italian Stallion won on both tours and was the runner-up at the PGA’s John Deere Classic the week prior to conquering Carnoustie last year. He enters his defense with one 2019 PGA win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March. He isn’t playing in Scotland or Illinois this week.

Avoiding trouble was a top strength of Molinari’s throughout his breakout 2018 PGA Tour season. He ranks just 97th in doubles avoided this year. His putting is slightly improved from last year, but he isn’t gaining nearly the same number of strokes from tee-to-green.

Hideki Matsuyama +4000 (DraftKings Sportsbook)

Like Spieth and Molinari, Matsuyama has been too prone to big scores this season to trust at a suppressed price in a Major. He enters the week ranked 29th in the OWGR but has the 15th-best odds to win. He has five top 10s on the year, including two of his last four events, but he hasn’t won since a dominant stretch in which he claimed four titles from Feb. 2016 to Aug. 2017. Two of those victories were in no-cut WGC events and the other two were back-to-back Waste Management Opens.

2019 Open Championship betting picks: The winner

Matt Kuchar +4800 (DraftKings Sportsbook)

Kuchar holds an 85-point lead over Koepka in the FedExCup standings. The Tour veteran has two wins and eight top 10s in 17 events this year, and he’ll play in the Scottish Open. A top contender for the best player without a Major, The Open has been his best in recent years with consecutive top-10 finishes and seven straight made cuts. He has struggled slightly around the greens, but he fills out the rest of the stat model well and ranks eighth overall. The 41-year-old is coming off a T20 finish in Scotland.

At 13th by the OWGR but 21st by the odds, he represents strong value.

2019 Open Championship betting picks: Top 10s

  • Danny Willett +1300
  • Adam Hadwin +2000
  • Andrew Johnston +2600
  • Stewart Cink +2900

2019 Open Championship betting picks: Match betting

  • Adam Scott (-110) vs. Henrik Stenson (-110)
  • Matt Kuchar (-112) vs. Tommy Fleetwood (-110)
  • Bryson DeChambeau (+104) vs. Jason Day (-126)
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Esten McLaren

Esten grew up on a golf course and made the switch from real-life trunk slammer to the daily fantasy realm as soon as the game was launched. He's been betting golf regularly for the better part of the last 10 years, most memorably winning big on Rory McIlroy's 2014 Open title, but a trip to Carnoustie for the 2018 Open and a walk around St. Andrews share the honor for best golf highlight. He has written about all major sports at FNTSY Sports Network, theScore, and SportsBookWire.

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