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Posted Wednesday, July 17 at 12:00 PM EST.
Cutoff time for this event is July 17 th at 10:35 PM EST.
2019 Open Championship - Notice the early cutoff times to wager.
And so here we are: the fourth and final major of the year, the British Open, at the Royal Portrush club in Northern Ireland. At the John Deere Classic, Dylan Frittelli booked his spot on the Links with a two-shot victory at the ever-welcoming TPC Deere Run, where the South African carded rounds of 64, 65 and 66 on route to victory. A graduate of the European Tour, Frittelli will feel right at home this week.
And for those banking on some Links prep, the Scottish Open took place at the Renaissance Club in North Berwick, and it was there that Bernd Wiesberger scored his second win in less than two months in a field that also included Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Matt Kuchar, among others. There will be a naturally high quality field descending on County Antrim for a chance to carve their name into golfing folklore.
This Week's Course Preview
This is just the second time in the event’s 148-year history that the British Open will head to Northern Ireland, and more specifically to the Royal Portrush club in County Antrim, which can be found on the northernmost Atlantic coastline.
Designed by famed architect Harry Colt, the Dunluce Links course was built into the existing sand dune landscape to help lay the foundation for some dramatic elevation changes and fairway slopes. It looks like a Links, it plays like a Links, and yet there is one major thing largely absent from Royal Portrush: the deep pot bunkers that characterize many other Links courses in the UK.
Indeed, there isn’t much sand at all, and with only a few coastal holes, water is an inconvenience rather than a true menace. Padraig Harrington, a man who knows a thing or two about the British Open, said that Portrush is a fun course with birdie opportunities, and it may be the case that the layout plays easier than we might otherwise expect. Measuring around 7,300 yards for its Par 72 depending on which tees are used, there is enough real estate on these fairways to keep most players out of serious trouble, which is represented by the tangly rough that is made up of both grass and heather.
Approaches into the small Bentgrass greens could also be rejected due to their slopes and run-offs, so as ever on a Links course, hitting those classy bump-and-runs from around the green will be key but there’s no great trickery to Royal Portrush and no gremlins; this is a straightforward golf course that rewards excellent tee-to-green control and penalizes those who are unable to keep their ball in play.
There is rain in the forecast, and that might help to slow down what are devilish green complexes. Holding approaches on these rock-hard surfaces, especially with a fierce blowing, is a tough task, but with rain and manageable winds in the early forecast, the difficulty rating of this layout comes down a few notches. It should be a fantastic assignment for the players and a joy to behold for spectators; just don’t expect Oakmont Country Club style complexity.
The weather is the chief form of defense at TPC Deere Run, and there is absolutely nothing for the players to worry about on that front this week according to the forecast. The temperatures are up – averaging 80-91°F across the week, and the sun is expected to shine across all four days to help deliver some glorious conditions. The wind looks set to be a minimal factor elsewhere. From a high of 13 mph on Thursday, the breeze looks set to drop to 8 mph by Sunday. All in all, these are premium conditions for the field to take this stretch to the cleaners.
Weather Forecast for Portrush
Unfortunately, it’s something of a guessing game with the forecast this week. The prevalent weather pattern in the predictions is ‘showers,’ which is of little help to gamers trying to calculate any potential draw biases but we can only surmise that there will be some rain around, both in the days leading up to the first tee and throughout the tournament itself, and that could lead to a) the course playing longer but b) greens being far more receptive.
And then there’s the wind, which is so often a staple of Links golf. On that front, the early forecast is also disconcertingly vague, with a breeze of between 10-13 mph being estimate for all four days. It looks set to be a cool week in this stretch of Northern Ireland too, with temperatures around the 63°F mark.
What We’re Looking For:
It’s at this time of year that we begin to sound like a stuck record, but the point is valid: there is nothing like Links form as a prerequisite to success at the Open Championship. Some players, notably Dustin Johnson, seem to simply struggle with the unique conditions, whereas others have a habit of thriving. It’s a skill set of being able to scramble like crazy out of thick native grass and hit clever chips and bumps into the greens; some love it, others do not.
Seven of the last 10 British Open winners were aged 35 or over at the time of their triumph, and that suggests that experience in tackling Links golf is key, while nine of the last 10 champions had a previous top-10 in this event to their credit. This is a tournament where specialists come to the fore. It’s rare for an anomaly to get their hands on the Claret Jug, with eight of the last 10 winners camped in the OWGR top 50. That’s no coincidence: the cream rises to the top in this event. So, players that are tournament sharp, have Links prep under their belt, are of a slightly older disposition or with Links experience under their belt and are comfortable playing in the wind are the only ones we truly seek on our shortlist for the British Open 2019.
To Win Outright:
Eddie Pepperell 75-1
We’ve had Pepperell in mind for this event for a while now, so gladly he has been holding up nicely in form of late. A T4 effort at the Irish Open was followed by T43 at the Scottish, but only after he had opened with a pair of 67s. And of the two, we expect the British Open to play more like the Irish with its small greens and reliance on a high quality short game. Pepperell offers that and plenty of Links experience too. He lost in a playoff at the Irish Open of 2015, won the British Masters at Walton Heath – a track with a Links-style feel albeit inland, and he bagged his first British Open top-10 at Carnoustie 12 months ago, where at one point he was the clubhouse leader on Sunday. At the age of 28, it’s about time that Pepperell established himself as one of the best European players around, and a strong showing at Portrush will be a good place to start. On the European Tour, Pepperall ranks 9th in Putts per GIR, 17th in Scrambling and 36th in: SG: Approach (Risking 0.2 units to win 15).
Jorge Campillo 225-1
We can almost guarantee that one or two of the numerous bombs will be in contention this week, thus we have to dig and see if we can find one or two. The reward is so great that it’s worth it and Jorge Campillo could be one of them. The Spaniard does not boast a supreme record in majors, but he is certainly at home on the Links and has shown plenty of signs of maturity this term. He won his maiden European Tour title over at the Trophee Hassan, and from March onwards he has recorded seven top-10s on that tour. T7 at the Irish Open is the most eye-catching for us, and maybe Campillo is finally ready to show his best self on the major stage. On the European Tour, Campillo ranks 5th in SG: Putting, 7th in Greens in Regulation and 34th in Putts Per GIR (Risking 0.2 units to win 45).
Matt Wallace – 50-1
The Englishman won three times on the European Tour in 2018, and there is just something about his swaggering machismo on course that suggests he will soon enough be competing in majors. Indeed, he’s already banked a T3 in the PGA Championship and T12 at the US Open, so Wallace has already offered a glimpse into his major pedigree. He’s just starting to cut his teeth out on the Links too, with that T12 at Pebble Beach matched by T14 in last week’s Scottish Open warm-up. One day, Matt Wallace will be among the favorites to win a British Open – that’s just a hunch. Get him at 50/1 while you still can.
Erik Van Rooyen 110-1
It’s been a breakthrough couple of seasons for Erik van Rooyen, who posted a pair of top-10s in European Tour events in South Africa in 2018 and he’s been terrific ever since. Top fives at the Irish Open and Made in Denmark have also come, as well as T11 at the KLM Open. He has more credentials to his name also and it came against elite competition, as he finished T8 at the PGA Championship in May and also finished 43rd at the U.S. Open. Since the U.S. Open, he’s been back on European soil gearing up for this event and at the perfect age of 29, he makes cuts and he puts himself in a position to win. He’s an under the radar talent that can compete (Risking 0.2 units to win 22 units).
#7202 Jon Rahm +106 over Dustin Johnson
Jon Rahm has been over in Europe for well over a month. In his last three events, he’s finished 3rd at the U.S. Open, 2nd at Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation and first at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open in his last event. Rambo is in great form, he’s very familiar with and comfortable on Links courses and when we talk about players with a point to prove, Rahm immediately springs to mind. The Spaniard was furious about missing the cut last year at this event and also had a mental meltdown at Carnoustie, as he smashed his club into the ground on the ninth after fearing that he had hit a second successive shot into a bunker in the midst of a disastrous run of triple bogey, bogey and double-bogey in successive holes. It was his first missed cut at the British Open but he starting the second day well-placed at two-under and then collecting two birdies in the first three holes. Rambo is simply one of the best players on the planet -- and so is Dustin Johnson ---on U.S. soil that is.
When it comes to Links golf, as we will enjoy this week at the Royal Portrush club in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, the nature of those shortlists changes, as there are fewer players who can win the and many more who don’t have a chance. Why is that? Well, it’s down to the unique conditions of Links golf courses. The rough is left to grow wild, long and bushy, and at Royal Antrim, there is a heather-type grass that is a nightmare to play from, according to reports. The greens are small and firm too, so approaches have to come in from a high angle or players have to feel comfortable in hitting little bump-and-run chips from the run-off areas around the greens. In short, it doesn’t suit everyone. Take Dustin Johnson, for example. He’s won 27 times worldwide, and yet only has one finish better than T9 in the British Open. The conclusion? He isn’t too fond of Links golf, and so can be discounted from our thoughts this week to beat Rahm and while it could happen, this is truly a case of “going with the best of it (Risking 2 units to win 2.12 units).
#7165 Bernd Wiesberger over Marc Leishman
Marc Leishman is not in the best form. He had a decent start to 2019 way back in January im some second-tier events but it’s been somewhat of a struggle ever since. Leishman has finished above par in four of his last six events. He ranks 134th in driving accuracy, hitting 473 fairways in 788 attempts. Miss fairways here and trouble will find you. Leishman is a well known pro with pedigree while our guy is not, at least in North America. Leishman is capable of putting forth a strong effort at any time but the timing is not right for him while the timing for Wiesberger is perfect.
The cat seems to be out of the bag regarding Bernd Wiesberger, although nobody appears to have told DraftKings at this derisory salary. The Austrian has battled back from a career-threatening wrist injury in some style, and since the end of May he has won twice on the European Tour: first at the Made in Denmark before following up at last week’s Scottish Open, where he outlasted Benjamin Hebert in a playoff. His Links prowess is not reflected in his poor British Open record, but Wiesberger can go well in these conditions and with his confidence at an all-time high, another tremendous show of ball-striking is certainly in the offing. Weisberger ranks 6th on the European Tour in Greens in Regulation, 16th in SG: Approach and 30th in Par 5 Scoring Average (Risking 2 units to win 2.12 units).
Others to consider:
Matt Fitzpatrick 66-1
For our money, this young talent is one of the brightest prospects in European golf, and perhaps the most likely Englishman of his generation to win a major. At 24, Fitzpatrick already has five European Tour wins to his name, plus T7 and T12 finishes at the Masters and US Open respectively, so his is a profile worth following. A steady T14 at the Scottish Open to go with his T12 at Pebble Beach a matter of weeks ago, Fitzpatrick could blossom into a consistent major player in years to come and Links golf certainly holds no fear for him. We can’t bet everyone but damn, it’s tempting to bet this talent at these odds.
Webb Simpson 85-1
The British Open has never been an event that Webb Simpson savors, and yet, oddly enough, his T12 return at Carnoustie 12 months ago was his best effort in this tournament. Has the Links penny dropped? Perhaps, and he routinely plays well at Pebble Beach and Harbour Town, so there’s no reason why he can’t thrive at these tree-less layouts. A proven player in the wind and in converting red numbers on Par 5s, Simpson has the profile we need this week as a former US Open champion and PLAYERS Championship winner. Could he make hay in the Northern Irish breeze? It’s possible.
After his involvement in the triumphant European Ryder Cup team, we expected Olesen to kick on and establish himself as one of the finest continental players around. It hasn’t worked out that way, and in fact the Dane has probably regressed. But improvements at the Irish Open a two weeks ago in a T15 finish bode well, as does a win at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in 2015. T9 and T12 finishes in the British Open confirms his love of this type of golf, and as somebody with a fine pedigree of winning tournaments, we should have no concerns about his fortitude under pressure.
Rafa Cabrera-Bello 66-1
For a man of his undoubted talent, Cabrera-Bello simply isn’t prolific enough as a winner – he has three wins on the European Tour in a career dating back a decade or more. But one of those did come at the Links-based Scottish Open in 2017 – a handy start, and the Spaniard is clearly comfortable on these wide-open courses having banked consecutive top-10s at the Irish and Scottish Opens in the last few weeks to go with his T4 at Royal Birkdale in this event back in 2017. And in something of a rarity, RCB is one of the few players in this field with prior experience of Royal Portrush: he finished T2 in the Irish Open of 2012 that was held here.
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