Sobel’s British Open Prop Bets: Top American, Top Irishman, More
Rob Schumacher, USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Rory McIlroy.
- The 2019 British Open brings with it all sorts of prop bets, including the opportunity to wager on the top player from each country.
- Jason Sobel goes country-by-country to pick out the safe play and aggressive play for each.
It was the indefatigable Ty Webb who, when asked how he measures himself against other golfers, replied, “By height.”
Somehow, oddsmakers haven’t taken a cue from the lumber-yard owner and matched up competitors based on physical stature. Too bad. There could be some fanciful wagering opportunities. Henrik Stenson or Tony Finau? Adam Hadwin or Chez Reavie?
Alas, at this week’s Open Championship, like every major, these opportunities are grouped not by size, but nationality. Once again, these bets offer us a chance at a nice compromise, with greater odds than head-to-heads, without the headache of having to pluck the outright winner.
Let’s break down these bets by countrymen, with a safe and an aggressive play for each.
Top American Player
- Safe play: Justin Thomas (+1400)
- Aggressive play: Andrew Putnam (+8000)
Just like his odds in every other actionable wager, Thomas is completely mis-priced here, behind Brooks Koepka (+450), Dustin Johnson (+700), Tiger Woods (+700), Patrick Cantlay (+1000), Xander Schauffele (+1000) and Rickie Fowler (+1200).
If you want to dig really deep, well, Putnam finished T-4 at last week’s Scottish Open, so it might be worth chasing 80-1 odds to see if maybe he’s a great links player and we just never knew it before.
Top Australian Player
- Safe play: Adam Scott (+150)
- Aggressive play: Marc Leishman (+300)
Well, I’ve got Scott atop my full-field ranking, so let’s just say I absolutely love him at plus-money in a six-man group where half shouldn’t be a factor. Leishman is a stronger option than Jason Day (+185), based on three top-six finishes at this event in the past five years.
Top Canadian Player
- Safe play: Corey Conners (+200)
- Aggressive play: Austin Connelly (+450)
I’m skipping right over Adam Hadwin (-140), who’s the odds-on favorite and only other player in this group, in favor of Conners, who’s a near-elite ball-striker. Connelly finished T-14 at The Open two years ago in his only previous major start to date.
Top Danish Player
- Safe play: Thorbjorn Olesen (-170)
- Aggressive play: Lucas Bjerregaard (+130)
Only two Danes in the field, so this one’s just a head-to-head matchup. I like Olesen, but not so much that I’d jump at this number.
Top English Player
- Safe play: Matt Wallace (+750)
- Aggressive play: Andy Sullivan (+2200)
With results of T-3 at the PGA Championship and T-12 at the U.S. Open, Wallace has shown an ability to rise to the occasion at big events, which should only intensify in more familiar surroundings. As the 11th-ranked man in this group, Sullivan has a chance to parlay some strong recent play into a potential top-five finish here.
Top French Player
- Safe play: Mike Lorenzo-Vera (+165)
- Aggressive play: Alexander Levy (+500)
It’s discouraging to see the markets give so much love to MLV, whom I thought could be a valuable sleeper this week. Levy owns the longest odds in this four-man group — and for good reason, as he’s missed the cut in seven of his last eight events — but he also might have the most innate talent, though it’s unlikely he’ll unlock it this week.
Top Irish Player
- Safe play: Rory McIlroy (-250)
- Aggressive play: Graeme McDowell (+600)
Politics aside, the books have lumped those from host country Northern Ireland into this group, as well, which pushes McIlroy to the clear favorite. If you think G-Mac could go low while buoyed by the home support, I don’t hate that play. And as we edge closer to Thursday, I keep thinking that Padraig Harrington (+1200) could at least make some noise for a couple of rounds.
Top Italian Player
- Safe play: Francesco Molinari (-350)
- Aggressive play: Andrea Pavan (+450)
Against only two others and with odds this low, I’m skipping right over the defending champion here. Instead, I’m intrigued by Pavan, who owns finishes of first and fourth in his last four starts. He only has to beat Molinari and Nino Bertasio (+700), which feels doable.
Top Japanese Player
- Safe play: Hideki Matsuyama (-250)
- Aggressive play: Shugo Imahira (+650)
Hideki is the head of this class, though I’m not so confident in him that I’d bet it to this number. If he does stumble, Imahira, who owns the next-shortest odds in this eight-man group, could be the man to reap the benefits.
Top Korean Player
- Safe play: Byeong Hun An (+250)
- Aggressive play: Doyeob Mun (+1600)
The truth is, this is an eight-man group where I don’t see much value. An is a solid player, but his results at The Open have been lacking. Maybe this is one where we take a big flier on a guy like Mun, though there’s not much I like about him, either.
Top Scottish Player
- Safe/Aggressive play: Robert MacIntyre (+175)
My safe and aggressive bets are one in the same here, as the 22-year-old MacIntyre offers talent and value in a five-man group led by Russell Knox (+120).
Top South African Player
- Safe play: Louis Oosthuizen (+230)
- Aggressive play: Christiaan Bezuidenhout (+1100)
Others are more bullish on Oosty than me, but I can understand the appeal of a guy who’s finished first and second in this event in the past decade. I also like Bezuidenhuit, who won the Andalucia Masters last month and could shock some people this week.
Top Spanish Player
- Safe play: Jon Rahm (-110)
- Aggressive play: Adri Arnaus (+1400)
Look, I don’t think any of Rahm’s countrymen are beating him this week, so he’s a nice play at this price. Which is too bad, because without Rahm, I like the sleeper chances of Arnaus, Jorge Campillo (+1400) and Adrian Otaegui (+1600).
Top Swedish Player
- Safe play: Henrik Stenson (-190)
- Aggressive play: Alex Noren (+250)
With only three players in the field — Alexander Bjork (+550) is the other — getting better than 1-2 odds on Stenson might be the best bet.