2019 British Open Picks: Our Staff’s Favorite Bets for Royal Portrush
Ian Rutherford, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Rory McIlroy
- The 2019 Open Championship begins on Thursday, July 18 at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland.
- Rory McIlroy is the favorite to win the Claret Jug at 8-1 with Brooks Koepka (10-1) and Dustin Johnson (10-1) right behind.
- Here are our staff's favorite bets for the final major of 2019:
The 2019 Open Championship begins on Thursday morning (1:35 a.m. ET) at the picturesque Royal Portrush in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.
Rory McIlroy, the hometown hero, is the betting favorite at 8-1 but Brooks Koepka (10-1) and Dustin Johnson (10-1) are right behind the Northern Irishman. Jon Rahm is the third betting choice at 16-1 and then comes Tiger Woods, a three-time Open Champion, at 18-1.
Given the size of these events, the elite fields that participate and the attention that they garner, bookmakers light up the board, giving bettors a gigantic menu of betting options.
Here are our staff’s favorite bets for the 2019 British Open.
The Bet: Xander Schauffele Top-10 Finish (+265)
There are seriously so many bets I like this week that I had to comb through ‘em all to limit it to my favorite for this piece, but I feel pretty confident that Xander will hold up his end of the deal.
Through 10 career major starts, Schauffele has finished top-10 in half of ‘em.
Now I’m no math whiz, but I sorta feel like those numbers are somewhere in the neighborhood of 1-in-2 and the odds of it happening yet again should probably be listed at, oh, right about even-money.
Instead, X-man is listed at +230, which suggests plenty of value in betting him for a top-10.
He’s like a miniaturized version of Brooks Koepka, one who saves his best golf for the four majors each year.
The Bet: Matt Kuchar Top-20 (+130)
The Kuchar top-20 bets have provided a decent return in this spot at times throughout the year, so I’m going back to it one more time at plus money again.
Kuchar has been consistent all season and has two top-10 finishes at this event the past two years. It seems like we’re hitting a sweet spot where he’s in good form and heading to a tournament that should fit his eye.
The Bet: Matt Kuchar (-115) over Jason Day
Day isn’t typically known as a strong iron player, he’s more known for his elite short game and putting. However, his irons have been decent lately, gaining strokes on approach in three-straight tournaments, while his short game and putting struggled in two of the past three.
I’d expect Day’s short game to progress back to his usual elite status, but that’s obviously no guarantee. And Kuchar is one of the guys I am highest on this week. Day hasn’t been played since the 3M Open in early July and Kuchar put together a respectable 20th-place finish at the Scottish Open last week.
Overall, Kuchar is just in better form than Day at the moment (Kuchar listed first):
- Recent Adjusted Round Score: 67.9 vs. 69.2
- Birdies per tournament: 18.7 vs. 15.3
- Adjusted strokes on par 4s: -3.0 vs. -0.5
And over their past 24 rounds Kuchar rates higher in the other Strokes Gained metrics I am looking at for The Open:
- Strokes Gained: Approach: 11th vs. 60th
- Strokes Gained: Short Game: 13th vs. 60th
Day has actually been consistent at British Opens, making eight-of-eight cuts, but it’s been the same story for Kuchar, making every cut since 2012. I’ll ride the hot-hand with Kuchar, who I think also has a better all-around game.
Dr. Lou Riccio*
The Bet: Chez Reavie Top-10 Finish (+1100)
The oddsmakers are giving us a discount based on the lack of name recognition with Chez Reavie. The guy has finished in the top 15 in his past two majors and followed that up with a win at the Travelers. Pebble Beach required precision off the tee and into the greens, which is exactly what will be required at Royal Portrush. These are extremely high odds for someone who seems to be taking a jump in class. We’ll take advantage.
Dr. Lou Riccio, a PhD senior lecturer, teaches rational decision making at Columbia’s Graduate School of Business and has served on the USGA’s handicap research team for three decades. More of his predictive analysis can be found over at Golf Digest.
The Bet: Ben Hebert (-120) over Keith Mitchell
Hebert has seen heavy line movement against Mitchell so far this week at some books, but you can still find him at a good number depending where you look. The dude is hot: He finished second at last week’s loaded Scottish Open, hitting a ridiculous 86.1% of his greens. He’s one of the best at hitting greens in the field, and he’s been especially good lately.
Mitchell has a win this year at the Honda Classic, but he’s missed two of his last three cuts entering the Open Championship and has a miserable 62.5% Recent Greens in Regulation mark. He typically gains strokes with his driver and doesn’t seem to be a great fit for links-style courses. I’m not expecting a great finish in his first Open Championship.
The Bet: Paul Waring (-105) over Si woo Kim
Recently I have been supplementing my speculative Si Woo triple digit outright bets with wagering against him in Tournament head-to-head bets with great success. Si Woo has been so bad, even for his boom-or-bust standards, that I can’t even wager on him this week at whatever the crazy long odds are. He has missed four straight cuts, three of which in “weaker field” events like the 3M and Rocket Mortgage Classic, and has been bleeding strokes tee-to-green.
Waring on the other hand has been one of the biggest sleepers in world golf this year, and his relatively unknown profile is likely the only reason I was able to grab him as a slight dog in this matchup.
He has four top-10 finishes this season on the European Tour, most recently at the Irish Open two weeks ago which was seen as a great tuneup for this weeks Open Championship. Waring has had some of his best performances in tough conditions on Links-style tracks and even finished 10th here at Royal Portrush in 2012, when it was the host course for the Irish Open.
I would take Waring in this matchup at whatever his current odds are.
The Bet(s): Bernd Wiesberger Top-10 Finish (+500), Jazz Janewattanond (-125) over Brandon Stone
I love the number on Wiesberger, who is coming off a victory last week at the Scottish Open. Wiesberger, who beat Benjamin Hébert in a playoff at The Renaissance Club, also finished a strong second at the Irish Open two weeks back. The Austrian, who has five European Tour wins, could be in contention come Sunday and the odds here are just too good to overlook.
I dug deep in the to find my favorite matchup play. Janewattanond, the Thai standout who splits his time between the Asian and European tours, raised eyebrows when he found himself in a tie for second at the PGA Championship heading into the final round before his surprising T14 effort at Bethpage.
He boasts a comfortable lead in the Asian Tour standings, highlighted by his recent win at the Korea Open for his second title of the season.
Stone has T61 and T70 finishes in his last two Open championships, which does not give me any reason to feel like I am on the wrong side of this wager.