2008 British Open Betting Preview
by T.O. Whenham
Who's going to win the British Open? That's easy. It's a major, so Tiger will put together two uninspiring days Thursday and Friday, make a move Saturday, and be the lone man standing Sunday. No Sweat. Oh wait, the golf world changed, didn't it? Handicapping majors now involves thinking. Damn.
Joking aside, the absence of Tiger is a big story for golf handicappers here. Tiger won the Open in 2005 and 2006, and he was right in the mix last year, ending up tied for 12th. He's been in the top 12 eight of the last 10 years, and he has three wins over that span. His absence not only leaves room for others on the top of the leaderboard, but he won't be there to intimidate players away from playing their best.
So without him, who wins? Not to be difficult, but it is wide open. Here's our 2008 British Open betting preview, with odds from Sportsbook.com.
Sergio Garcia (10/1) - The Spaniard is, somewhat surprisingly, the favorite. It's refreshing to see no players in single digits at this point after accepting 3/1 or so favoritism for years. I don't have a lot of faith in seeing my money again if I throw it on Garcia, but his favoritism makes some sense. Sooner or later, one would think, he is going to win a major. It would seem like the Open is the most likely spot to do so. Garcia missed the cut in 2004, but that was the only time since 2001 that he didn't end up in the top 10. Last year he lost a four-hole playoff to Padraig Harrington. He's playing well this year, with an impressive win in the Players Championship. In this new golf world he makes good sense.
Padraig Harrington (15/1) - The defending champion will get a lot of support. After all, he won here last year, and he was top five in the Masters this spring. I'm not eager to buy in at this price, though. He has three top five results in this tournament in his career, but he has also missed the cut three times, including the two times he played before his win. He's a more than capable golfer, but I think that his inconsistency coupled with the unfamiliar pressure of being a defending champion on the biggest stage is enough to make him a bad bet at this price.
Phil Mickelson (12/1) - Some people seem to assume that the PGA belongs to Phil if he wants it now that Tiger is on the sidelines. That may be the case, but I think he's a sucker bet here. For some reason, Phil is not at the best when he crosses the ocean. While he has been outside the top 10 just once in the last 10 tries, he has just one top 10 result in the Open in 15 tries. Last year he missed the cut, and the two previous years he played all four rounds but was totally irrelevant. He's had a good year this year, but not good enough to make him worth more than a passing look at this price in my eyes.
Justin Rose (20/1) - He'll have all the support he could possibly want since he is the top ranked British player, and the second highest ranked European. He's more than just a hometown face, though. He was the top money earner on the European Tour last year, and he didn't finish worse than 12th in the four majors last year. He hasn't been as strong this year, but he is a golfer that is too good not to make a breakthrough at some point. At this price it might be worth taking a shot that this will be the year.
Adam Scott (25/1) - Getting the fourth-ranked golfer in the world at a price like this is always worth a look. Scott hasn't been particularly solid in his last six majors, finishing higher than 25th just once, and missing the cut once. Before that, though, he had a third in the PGA and an eighth in the Open. He's had a very good year this year, with a win on both the PGA and the European Tour. That form, coupled with his obvious skill, would lead you to believe, at the very least, that he isn't overpriced. The same basic argument can be made for fellow Aussie Geoff Ogilvy, who is ranked one spot higher in the world rankings, and he is at the same value-laden price.
Camilo Villegas (80/1) - You always have to have a longshot in your stable because you'll look like a genius if you are right. In this wide-open field I like Villegas. He has never played the Open before, but he is coming off his first top-10 finish in a major at the U.S. Open. I don't put a lot of merit in Skins golf, but he followed up the strong U.S. Open showing by going to the Telus Skins Game in Canada and winning it over a far more experienced, intimidating field - Couples, Norman, Montgomerie, and Canadian hero Mike Weir. That shows that he is playing with a pile of confidence, and that could carry over here. Worth a shot, anyway.
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Phil Mickelson favored at Scottish Open
Golfer, who has two victories this season, is listed at 7-1 odds for British Open tuneup.
As a tune-up to next week's British Open, Phil Mickelson will take his game Europe to play in this weekend's Barclays Scottish Open and oddsmakers have made him the golfer to beat.
Mickelson, who has two victories on the PGA Tour this season, is listed at 7-1 odds to win at Loch Lomond, according to Bodoglife.com.
Ernie Els has the second best odds at 11-1, followed by Adam Scott at 12-1, Lee Westwood at 14-1 and Soren Hansen, Henrik Stenson and Andres Romero at 25-1.
In matchup bets at Sportsbetting.com, Mickelson is listed at -120 over Els (-110); Westwood is listed at -125 over Scott (-105), and Stenson is listed at -135 over Hansen (even).
With Tiger Woods done for the season because of knee surgery, Mickelson, who has never won the British Open, has also emerged as one of the top betting favorites for the British Open, according to Golfodds.com.
Sergio Garcia is listed as the favorite with 10-1 odds, followed by Els at 12-1 and Mickelson and defending Open champion Padraig Harrington at 15-1.
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British Open Preview
By Alf Musketa
The British Open is held this year at the Royal Birkdale Golf Club near Lancashire, England. The buzz surrounding this Open is that anyone can win because Tiger Woods is not in the field. We'll handicap some of the players that I think can win, look at some of the longshots and note players to go against.
Ernie Els has publicly stated, "The poor guy that wins the Open, will have to answer over and over, do you think you would have won if Tiger were in the field." We know one player that will relish Tiger's absence and that is Phil Mickelson. Mickelson has said, "Tiger is a huge loss for the U.S. Ryder Cup team, the Fed Ex Cup, but, that some lucky player will snag a major or two and the $10 million dollars." Positive thinking there Phil.
I predict that a no name will win this year's Open and in particular a European player. The European PGA Tour has improved steadily with the depth of field, they have better younger players now and the confidence to compete on the world stage due to the success of the Ryder Cup and notable Top Euro players placing high in all the majors is big.
Royal Birkdale will play 7,173 yards stretched from 7,018 in 1998 where Mark O'Meara defeated Brian Watts in a four-hole playoff. They have added a few trees, 20 new bunkers and the rough will be penal. The rough has only two cuts, a four-inch semi cut and then 12 inches plus of “heather patches”.
The greens are expected to run only 10.5 on the stimpmeter, because of much rain that past few weeks. The early forecast calls for 20% to 60% chance of light rain each day, as usual.
This track favors solid ball striking due to the hazards around the course and smaller than average greens. Total Driving is a good stat to help with your handicapping this week.
Sergio Garcia (10/1)
I have Sergio as the favorite, Sportsbook.com has him at 10/1, you will find him anywhere from 8/1 to 18/1 so shop around.
Sergio lost this tournament last year to Padraig Harrington in a playoff at Carnoustie. Sergio should have won his first major but blew it with conservative irons off every tee down the stretch. Since then he won the Players Championship and improved his putting dramatically with the help of short-game guru Stan Utley.
In this the year of the Spaniard, where Spain won the Euro Cup, Rafael Nadal wins Wimbledon surely Sergio can break through on the big stage.
Ernie Els (8/1)
Ernie has taken three weeks off relaxing at his home in London and then used the Scottish Open this past week as a prep, finishing tied for ninth.
I see Ernie having a legitimate shot this week, but still concerned about him constantly changing his inner circle personnel. He just re-hired Ricci Roberts his caddy who was on the bag for each of his three majors. He is working now with swing coach Butch Harmon (good move), and has gone back to his old sports psychologist Jos Varstiplant.
Lee Westwood (20/1)
Westwood is in the best shape of his life. He played very well dueling Tiger head-to-head in the U.S Open to finish outright in third place. He ranks second in scoring average at 70.11 and is second on the Euro Tour in Greens in Regulation.
Adam Scott (20/1)
Scott played the U.S. Open with a broken right pinky finger. He rested until this past week and teed it up at Loch Lomond in the Scottish Open and coasted in at T25 with a poor 74 final round, but that was expected. He is perhaps the best driver of the golf ball in the world today and along with Sergio are the top two players in the field having not won a major.
Miguel Angel Jimenez (60/1)
"The Mechanic" posted another top ten (T3) at the Scottish Open, which was his 6th this year. He also had a win at the prestigious BMW PGA Championship and a solid T6 at the U.S Open. He also posted a T12 in last year's British Open.
Ross Fisher (100/1)
Fisher won the European Open a couple of weeks ago destroying the field by seven shots. Sergio Garcia was second! He currently ranks 7th on the European Order of Merit.
Oliver Wilson (120/1)
Wilson has been money in the bank this season. We have cashed a couple of times with him in matchups. The Englishman has a deadly putter and has improved up the ladder in each of his four years on the Euro circuit. This season he has seven Top 10's including four 2nd place finishes.
Stephen Ames (100/1)
Ames can dissect a golf course as good as any player in this field. His tee to green game is made to stay out of the rough at Royal Birkdale, and he is also a good bad weather player.
Zach Johnson......Zach made the cut this past week at the John Deere Classic, but played very poorly after that. His heart and mind are on the victims, family and friends in the Cedar Rapids, Iowa area due to the massive flooding.
Mark Calcavecchia.....Calc withdrew from the U.S. Open having problems with both knees, he could barely walk. He returned to the PGA Tour this past week in Illinois wearing shoe inserts. He shot a super 4-under par 68 opening round but then struggled mightily with a 75 and missed the cut by three shots. On top of that he had to sit around during the weekend waiting for the Chartered jet the PGA Tour arranged for players heading over to the British Open.
Sean O'Hair......O'Hair has not played well in months. He was in a car accident in June and suffered badly bruised ribs. He missed the cut at the John Deere Classic as well.
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Thick rough poses challenges at this British Open
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
SOUTHPORT, England (AP) -For a tournament built on tradition, change was everywhere at Royal Birkdale on Monday.
Typical of the first full day of practice at the British Open, one of the biggest names in the field was among the first to tee off under leaden skies as fans scurried over sand dunes to call out his name, ask for an autograph or simply watch him create shots.
Only it wasn't Tiger Woods, out for the rest of the year with a bad knee.
And instead of the gallery growing by the hour until more than a thousand circled every green, only about 75 people chased after Justin Rose, the 27-year-old from England who might be the best chance for Royal Birkdale to finally crown a champion from Britain.
Mark O'Meara, who won the claret jug 10 years ago on this links course, again took on the role of pied piper by playing a practice round with a rising star barely older than his son. That would be 23-year-old Anthony Kim, who has won twice since May on two of the toughest tracks on the PGA Tour.
''I need all the help I can get,'' said Kim, who is playing links golf for the first time.
But perhaps the biggest change was the color of this British Open.
No other major is more influenced by weather, and not just during the four days of competition. Players arriving on the Lancashire coast only needed to look at the grass to see what kind of year it has been in Britain.
When the weather is dry in spring and early summer, the links are brown and yellow, firm and fast, with wispy native grasses that look like wheat fields. When it's a wet spring, the course is green and lush, grass so thick in some spots that it's difficult to find a golf ball.
''This is seriously green,'' Scott Verplank said Monday. ''As green as you'll ever see.''
Carnoustie also was green last year, when Padraig Harrington outlasted Sergio Garcia in a playoff, but Royal & Ancient officials found the keys to the lawn mowers and kept the rough at minimal length, still smarting over the '99 debacle that was ''Car-Nasty.''
The previous five years, the British Open mainly went brown.
Geoff Ogilvy slowly made his way to Royal Birkdale, stopping along the way to get acclimated to this brand of golf by playing at Royal Liverpool, West Lancashire and Formby. It was the same everywhere.
''This is the healthiest rough we've had in quite awhile,'' Ogilvy said.
O'Meara finished at even-par 280 in 1998, beating Brian Watts in a playoff, and that score might be a good target this week if the stiff breeze off the Irish Sea prevails, as it did Monday morning when it was a steady 15 to 20 mph.
Birkdale isn't terribly long at 7,173 yards, but its fairways are plenty tight considering what awaits beyond their borders.
''It's almost like a U.S. Open in that you've got 10 yards off the fairway to play with, and if you miss it beyond that, then good luck trying to find it,'' former British Open champion Ben Curtis said. ''I think you'll see more big numbers than the other Opens. If you're 15 yards off line, you'll see some 6s and 7s.
Verplank and Steve Stricker, a successful team at the Presidents Cup last September, played a match against John Rollins and former British Open champion Justin Leonard, and they had an idea what to expect this week.
Verplank hit a tee shot on No. 5 that traveled only 150 yards into the wind - it wasn't entirely his fault, as it clipped the netting covering the front portion of the tee box - then hit a 3-iron right of the green. For the next several minutes, he walked in circles in the high grass, hands on hips, looking for his ball.
From the right rough, some 15 yards off the fairway, Rollins swung with all his might and let go of the club with his right hand after the thick stuff twisted the blade at impact.
''It starts getting thick a little closer to the green,'' Verplank said. ''The course is not overly long, but when the wind starts ripping, it's a little tight. And if the wind gets going, it's going to be a real struggle.''
Furyk likes it when the Open is brown, preferring fast conditions that require precision over power, since the crusty ground will help tee shots roll an additional 40 or 50 yards.
But he has learned to take what the British Open gives, and that means lush grass this year.
''When we went to Muirfield (in 2002), we come here, you know it's been raining,'' Furyk said. ''When you go to Liverpool (in 2006), you know it's been dry. You look at the golf course, and the weather for the past couple of months will dictate how the course plays. If I had it my way, I'd want it to play as firm and as fast as possible.''
Birkdale has gone through some moderate changes in the past 10 years aimed at making it play a little tighter. Some fairways have been moved to alter the angle of attack. The most significant change was the 17th green, pushed farther back into the dunes, with severe contours and a steep change in elevation from the back of the green to the front.
This has not been well-received by most players, including Stephen Ames, who said, ''It goes with a Pete Dye course.''
It was all new to Kim, who took last week off following his victory at Congressional. He played the front nine Sunday afternoon when he arrived from Dallas to help get over the jet lag, and those two hours made him feel even more tired.
''It beat me up,'' he said. ''Everything is tiny here. The fairways are tiny. The hole may be smaller, for all I know.''
O'Meara spent early Monday evening guiding him around, looking after Kim the way he once took Woods under his wing as a young pro.
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Kostroski's expert British Open betting picks
By LEE KOSTROSKI
My run on the tour has been pretty solid as of late. After nailing last week’s winner at the John Deere Classic (Kenny Perry at +700), I have now picked the outright winner in two of the last four events.
My other winner was at the Travelers (the weekend of June 21st & 22nd) when Stewart Cink cashed in at +1400. A week following the Travelers my long shot, Woody Austin +5000, was leading with two holes remaining but bogeyed 17 and 18 and finished second. Now it’s time to see if I can keep up the hot streak and make a big run at the British Open this weekend.
This year’s British Open (now simply called “The Open Championship”) is being held at Royal Birkdale in England. This with be the ninth time Birkdale has hosted The Open Championship. If you’re looking for a “nationality” edge we might have one here. In fact, the only players to win here were either from the United States or Australia.
The winners here from Australia are Peter Thomson (twice) and Ian Baker Finch. The Americans that hoisted the Claret Jug at Royal Birkdale were Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Johnny Miller, Tom Watson and most recently Mark O’Meara in 1998. And as usual, the weather will be a factor here. The forecast calls for cloudy skies for the most part and 15 to 20 MPH winds from now through Sunday.
This year’s field has been “watered down” a bit with the absence, or possible absence of a few top notch players. Last year’s Open Championship winner, Padraig Harrington, had his practice round cut short due to an injured wrist. His start on Thursday is in jeopardy. Kenny Perry, who already has three wins on tour this year, has decided to skip The Open Championship and play in this weekend’s U.S. Bank Open in Milwaukee. And, of course, the No. 1 player in the world is on the shelf.
With Tiger on the sidelines, the favorite this week is Sergio Garcia at +800. I can’t argue with Garcia as the favorite here. He has finished in the Top 10 at the British Open in five of his last seven starts. However, I think the odds are off here. Tabbing Garcia as a favorite is one thing. Making him a distinct favorite with odds at only +800 is enough to make me stay away from him this weekend.
My first pick this weekend comes from the “nationality” category I spoke of earlier. I’m siding with Aussie Geoff Ogilvy at +2500. Many people don’t realize how good this guy is. Ogilvy is currently ranked third in the World Golf Ranking behind only Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. He has been fantastic on the big stage. In his last 13 Major appearances, Ogilvy has one win, six top 10 finishes and nine top 25 finishes. He has missed only one cut during that time. This year he has finished in the top 10 in six of the ten cuts he has made including a 9th place finish at the U.S. Open. Of course, being from Australia gives him a leg up at Birkdale ... not really but what the heck?
I also like Stewart Cink at +3300. I know I’ve been on him a few times already this year, but he has been good to me including a win at +1400 a few weeks ago. He has simply been playing great golf for the majority of the year making 14 cuts in the 15 tourneys he has appeared in. Not only that, he has finished in the top three in five of those outings including a win at the Travelers in June. He is fourth in the Fed Ex Cup standings and sixth in the World Golf Rankings. He has done fairly well at The Open Championship as of late finishing sixth last year and 14th in 2004. Cink is a bargain at +3300.
While his odds aren’t the greatest, I’m grabbing Ernie Els at +1400 as my final selection. Els has the best British Open resume in the entire field. He seems to always play well in this tourney. In his last eight British Opens, Els has finished in the top four a remarkable six times. His other two starts he finished 18th and 34th. Going back even further, Els has eleven top 11 career finishes at the British. He hasn’t been great in 2008 with just two top 10 finishes, however his track record in this Championship gives him the nod.
Many have stated there should be an asterisk next to this year’s champion because Tiger is not in the field. That’s hogwash. Despite the fact that the #1 player in the world who has finished first or second at seven of the last eight Major Championships is not here, someone will still have to go out, play well and win this thing. After Sunday, someone will have their name engraved on the Claret Jug and it won’t say, “Tiger was not here” next to it.
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