The Open Championship gets under way at Muirfield in the early hours of Thursday morning, with the world’s best golfers set to do battle in the most prestigious major of them all. Links golf requires a particular skill set and some very big priced winners have gone in in recent years, so who can prevail this year?
The 142nd Open Championship takes place at Muirfield and this Open venue has a record for delivering high class Champions. After shock winners in recent years, including the likes of Ben Curtis and Todd Hamilton, a return to the 2002 course suggests punters need to look for players of pedigree to find the winner, or those that will go well. The names of previous winners here include Faldo, Trevino, Nicklaus, Player and Els. Who will add their name to the list?
Open Championship 2013 Betting tips
Links golf requires accuracy. The rough will be punishing, as will the bunkers. These historic coastal courses are being lengthened where possible, but big hitting has never been an advantage on Open Championship courses and 2013 will be no different. The winner will need to plot their way around all 18 holes and need a very solid short game. The high temperatures will mean rock solid fairways, so distance is really not an issue – touch is.
Our team of selections are all available at big prices. They all have solid chances to be in the frame and their large starting prices make them ideal back-to-lay candidates. Our shortest price runner is Branden Grace (66/1 with Coral). A runner up spot in last weekend’s Scottish Open (after a play off with Phil Mickelson) has flagged up Grace as a good links course player to many punters, but his odds still tempt. A winner of last year’s Dunhill Links Championship, he boasts a good all round game, and is one of the leading putters according to the tour statistics. Driving accuracy is the key for him this weekend.
We also like Richard Sterne (133/1 with Betfair). Sitting fourth in the Race to Dubai, Sterne is a consistent sort and is another good putter. His accuracy and solid form fit the bill but his previous Open form is a worry, hence his three figure odds, but there have been improvements since his 2006 debut and if the trend continues he can make the frame.
After two South Africans, we should mention two who made the shortlist but were then passed over. Henrik Stenson is a man in form, but his tour stats highlight a weakness in the short game department, so others are preferred. Another man regaining form is Thomas Bjorn. The big Dane has been on an upward curve and is looking to join previous winners Darren Clarke and Ernie Els in lifting the Claret Jug at over 40. Unfortunately Bjorn withdrew from his last tournament with a neck injury and with that in mind, his campaign may be doomed before it has even started.
Back to our selections and the 80/1 shot (888Sport) Matteo Manassero (pictured above). His real strengths are in the short game department, boasting solid putting and sand save numbers, and he is a consistently low scorer. He finished thirteenth four years ago, so can mix it at the right end of the leaderboard and gets the verdict to get himself involved again.
Our last selection is a big name of yesteryear. The Open often sees a previous Champion go well, Tom Watson being the most recent example (unless we count last year’s winner Ernie Els of course). Justin Leonard is nowhere near the force of old, but he might be capable of springing a shock. At 500/1 (with Coral), he still boasts some good averages and is the seventh best putter on the US Tour. Driving distance is a weakness, but as noted above, that does not hinder an Open campaign. The clincher however, is Leonard’s fourteenth place finish on this course in 2002. A class act with top drawer pedigree, a previous Open Champion, with course success on his CV – at 500/1? He’s in our squad…and if he wins at those odds, we can forgive Brookline…
Open Championship 2013 Betting tips