GOLF analyst Lewis Blain (@LewisBlainSport) shares his betting thoughts ahead of The Open from Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland.
The Open Championship | 18th-21st July 2019 | Sky Sports
The final major is already upon us. The Masters was only in April and that certainly doesn’t feel too long ago. Even after this week, there’s still a helluva lot of golf to be played – some players are coming over from Scotland, some have remained in Ireland following that tournament two weeks ago and a couple will have flown over from the US at some point.
Italian stallion Francesco Molinari comes to Royal Portrush to defend his Claret Jug in the 148th edition of the famous British major. There’s a hatful of players bunched at the top of the market with bookmakers struggling to separate the favourites combined with a generous offering of 10 places available.
- Royal Portrush, Northern Ireland.
- Harry Colt redesign.
- Par 71 – 7,330 yards.
- Treeless, undulating coastal links.
- Wide-ish fairways with penal rough and wind the primary defences.
- Small-ish bentgrass greens.
- Second time ever hosting The Open.
- Hosted the 2012 Irish Open & 2014 Amateur Championship.
- Links form – Open Championships, Irish & Scottish Opens, Alfred Dunhill Links etc.
- Recent form – trends suggest a win this year, solid incoming form T20s.
- Age – historically older players can win this major compared to the others.
- Excellent short-game, scrambling and putting.
- Wind could be a factor although it looks gentle as of typing.
- Lack of wind means it could be easy-scoring so birdies and bogey avoidance key too.
- Supreme ball-strikers.
Jon Rahm (16/1 Betfred)
Dating back to 2013, The Open Championship winner has won an event in one of his five previous starts – barring Zach Johnson’s surprise 2015 triumph. That shows that it is often those at the front of the market winning this event. It also shows that Jon Rahm could be a good fit. His last outing was in Ireland and it was a win. His form was trending one by one to that victory – T3-T2-WIN.
That win at Lahinch is much more indicative of the test they’ll face this week – This week’s Scottish Open at the Renaissance Club is a modern layout by comparison. That was Rahm’s second Irish Open title which just shows how much he relishes a links test.
With conditions here this week going to be gentle, the powerhouse can pick apart this course. He will love the fact that the fairways are quite wide meaning he can pick up and rip the driver. Forget his temperament, to finish T3 at the US Open and then T2 at the tough Valderama and then ultimately win gives me enough indication to know his mind is in the right spot.
I’m happy to ignore his record in this tournament, he’s still only young – he’s only 24 but has won seven events already between the PGA and European Tour. He for sure is a major champion in waiting – his four top-10s across all four majors over the last two years shows glimpses of that too.
I expect him to be a big player so we should at least get our money back if he ends in the place money but lets hope he’s the next European to lift the Claret Jug.
Adam Scott (28/1 SkyBet)
I think I may have put up Scotty for most of the majors this year but his form has been lights out even if it’s been sporadic. He’s playing a Tiger Woods-esque schedule whereby he doesn’t play too much in order to peak at the right times. Well, he’s been doing that superbly and really is missing that win.
It’s five straight top-18 finishes including a second place at Memorial. The other four tournaments were the three other majors and the Players. Don’t take his absence since the US Open as weakness as he’s been over at Royal Portrush practising for over a week now.
He absolutely loves links golf too – he hasn’t missed a cut in the Open in a decade (2009) and enjoyed a lovely spell of 2nd-T3-T5-T10 between 2012 and 2015 where he was last playing his best stuff – floating around 1st-5th in the world. He’s now back playing his best, maybe even better than then.
He’s somewhat a veteran on tour at 38 years of age and has won a major before in The Masters, if he’s going to win another one maybe it’s this. He used to frequent the European Tour at some point during his career where he won the Scottish PGA, events in Qatar and Scandinavia.
If he had played in the last week or two, then I would imagine he would be going off closer to 20s. And of course, he’s one of the best iron players there is.
Matt Kuchar (33/1 SkyBet)
I was one of the backers who had to agonisingly watch Jordan Spieth’s antics the other year as he stormed back to win The Open at the expense of Kuchar. He was much longer odds then but he’s become a serial winner on Tour since.
Another veteran on Tour, he’s won twice since November and comes into this event with one missed cut in nine events – the rest are all top-20 finishes, including two runner-up spots at the RBC Heritage and the Match Play.
Kuchar’s all round game is currently the best it’s ever been and probably will ever be and his T20 warm-up at the weekend in Scotland was more than encouraging. He looked completely at ease out there barring a hiccup or two. He’s done well in all three majors this year and because the four tournaments are bunched so together now we have to weight form in those just as high as recent form.
Rafa Cabrera-Bello (55/1 Betfair)
It’s Cabrera-Bello’s recent form on links which had me rushing to back him for this. A T4 in Ireland was followed up by a T9 at this week’s Scottish Open culminating in three straight top-10s – that’s hugely impressive form.
The Spaniard’s best performances have come on linksy-type tracks including a win at the 2017 Scottish Open and a win in Dubai. That same year he finished T4 in this very major and has a handful of top-5s in Ireland and Qatar.
Rafa is in the top-10 for scrambling and around-the-green game and will relish this test amongst the big boys.