Well here we are at the fourth golf major of the year already. It’s been quite a season on the PGA Tour, with twelve first time winners. But when it comes to the majors it’s been a bit more like normal service, with the leaderboards being dominated by the big guns. Tiger used all his course experience and veteran nous to take the Masters. Brooks just kept on trucking and went back to back at the PGA Championship, then he nearly went and did the double-double at the US Open, only to be denied by a spirited effort from Gary Woodland.
This week we head to Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland for The Open. I feel that this could define Rory McIlroy’s year, as this is the course on which Rory learned to play the game as a boy. No one will know this course like McIlroy, apart from Graeme McDowell, who is also a long-term member here.
As much as Rory has home field advantage I just can’t take him this week. I think the pressure on him will be immense and I am still not convinced by his putting game, which has been streaky at best this season.
Interestingly there is one other person deeply involved in the tournament who knows the course like the back of his hand. That person is Brooks Koepka’s caddy, Ricky Elliot. Elliot also grew up near Royal Portrush and played the course extensively as a young man. His course knowledge will be invaluable to a man like Koepka, who as we know possesses all the tools in his bag and seems to win major’s for fun.
Unsurprisingly, McIlroy and Koepka are joint favourite’s for the event. I would take Koepka all day long over McIlroy, as he has been very good for me this year, getting the victory at the PGA Championship after I tipped him to win, and running Woodland close to finish second at the US Open after I tipped him there as well. There is something very special about Koepka and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he wins again this week at the Open.
But my aim is to try and find you, and me, some value in the field. A player or two that you can put a few quid on each way and get a nice return from if they come in, so lets park Koepka in the obvious tray and try to find some others that might deliver a bit more bang for your buck.
*P.S. The weather forecast at Royal Portrush for the entire week is wet and windy. (quelle surprise) This will bring a fair amount of luck into the equation and it may just mean the players who get the best of the weather conditions over the first two days may just get away from the field by a few strokes and there could well be some proper dark horses in that breakaway.
Blue Horseshoe Loves
JON RAHM – currently 14/1 with starsports.bet
I’ve been saying for some time now that this guy absolutely LOVES links golf, particularly in Ireland. Rahm went to Lahinch in Ireland last week and stormed through the field on the Sunday to pick up his second Irish Open championship title in three years. In an effort to attract the best possible field, the organisers of the Irish Open made no secret of the fact that they had set up the Lahinch course to mirror conditions at The Open in Royal Portrush two weeks later. Rahm excelled in the conditions, as he did two years earlier when he spread eagled the field to win by six shots at the Irish Open at Portstewart. If conditions go his way this week the big Spaniard will be a very hard man to stop from picking up his first major.
BERND WIESBERGER – currently 66/1 with starsports.bet
Wiesberger suffered a wrist injury last season and it has been a long slow climb back to form for him. But the talent of the diminutive Austrian has never been in doubt and his game is now back in full swing with a European tour win in Denmark in May, a close second at the Irish Open and an impressive win last week at the Scottish Open. That record is as good as anyone of the big guns in the weeks field and I think Bernd Weisberger represents outstanding each way value
XANDER SCHAUFFELE – currently 22/1 with starsports.bet
Schauffele came very close to winning his first major at The Open last year, finishing a close second to Francesco Molinari. It’s clear the American has got major winning ability. He’s been right there at the business end of both the Masters and the PGA Championship this year. He rarely has an awful round and I think if he gets the breaks with the weather and starts well he’s a great shout to be right there again.
One for the Longer odds Lovers
CAMERON SMITH – currently 200/1 with starsports.bet
This little Aussie battler grew up playing links golf in Australia and despite him having a pretty ordinary year by his standards I am convinced this guy has got the short game to pop up at a big price and win a major one day. Will it be this week? I’m not sure but his odds are just too attractive for me not to be on him each way.
RECOMMENDED BETS (scale of 1-100 points)
BACK JON RAHM 2 pts ew at 14/1 with starsports.bet
BACK BERND WIESBERGER 1 pt ew at 66/1 with starsports.bet
BACK XANDER SCHAUFELLE 1 pt ew at 22/1 with starsports.bet
BACK CAMERON SMITH 1 pt ew at 200/1 with starsports.bet
EW 8 places 1/5 odds
PROFIT/LOSS SINCE JAN 1 2017: PROFIT 182.17 points
(excluding Ryan Sidebottom Ashes bet, Tour De France)