2021 British Open Picks: The Outright Bets We Made Right Away at Royal St. George’s
Harry How/Getty Images. Pictured: Patrick Reed
There’s nothing quite like The Open Championship. The tough courses, the rugged scoring conditions and, of course, the weather, make the Open one of the best betting events on the entire sporting calendar.
The Open tends to produce winners from all over the board. We’ve seen favorites like Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy lift the Claret Jug. But we’ve also seen some big prices come through with Darren Clarke, Zach Johnson and Shane Lowry. In other words, the betting can be just as chaotic as the tournament.
Will this year’s edition provide another longshot? Or will we see one of the game’s biggest stars take down the field at Royal St. George’s?
Here are the players we bet right away to win the 2021 Open Championship:
Lee Westwood (+5650)
This play has been percolating for 16 months now. It was at last year’s Honda Classic when I spoke with Westwood for a little bit and he just seemed … different. Refreshed, relaxed, recharged. When I mentioned that to him, he smiled and told me how happy and comfortable he is with both his life and his career. I walked away from that conversation muttering to myself, “Holy crap, he’s going to win The Open this year.” Of course, there was no Open last year. Just a few weeks later, the schedule was suspended for COVID and the tourney eventually went from postponed to canceled. I don’t know that Westwood would see it as a missed opportunity any more or less than anyone else who’s trying to add a Claret Jug to his collection, but now at 48 years old, his window for that career climax is indeed closing a bit. Perhaps, though, that window is only closing more gradually than ever before. Phil Mickelson recently proved a player can win a major at age 50 and Tom Watson had already shown that one can contend at this specific major well into his late-50s.
I expect this week to be much less about analytics regarding driving stats and ball-striking numbers than guile and creativity around the greens, patience in the wind and maybe a little magic in the air. It can be argued that each of the year’s first three major champions owned some sort of fate-meets-destiny conclusion and it can similarly be argued that a win by Westwood in England would rival the significance and popularity of the win by Mickelson at Kiawah.
I don’t like Westwood by leaps and bounds over the other contenders I’ll have near the top of my list this week, but he is my favorite outright play for this one – just as he’s been for the past 16 months.
Marc Leishman (+7000)
Leishman has finished sixth or better in three of his last six Open starts. He’s also started playing a little better, just missing the Harris English/Kramer Hickok playoff at the Travelers by a shot after gaining 4.5 strokes off the tee.
The Aussies are riding a bit of a heater in Europe with Lucas Herbert and Min Woo Lee winning back-to-back events, so we’ll see if Leishman can add to the success of his compatriots.
Jordan Spieth (+2050)
The refresh of odds this morning put just enough drift on Jordan Spieth to have me biting on him as my first click. I always like Spieth in The Open because of his elite game on approach, as well as his edge on and around the greens. He is a player with the creative mindset necessary on links-style courses like the one we will see at Royal St. George’s this week. His Open record certainly backs that up as he has never missed a cut in seven appearances at this event, and has three top-10 finishes including his win in 2017.
It seems that many have soured a bit on Spieth over the last few events, but the modern day U.S. Open set up is not one that will highlight the strengths of his game the way the Open Championship does. I’m in on Jordan to capture his first major championship since he won this same tournament by three shots just four years ago at Royal Birkdale.
Patrick Reed (+4000)
This is the first number that immediately stuck out to me. Reed is priced the same as Lee Westwood, Justin Rose, Joaquin Niemann and Tommy Fleetwood on certain books. No disrespect to any of those guys, but Reed is a nine-time PGA TOUR winner that turns it up when the lights are brightest; the same cannot be said for anyone else priced 40/1 or above this week. Reed’s Open record is pretty solid, making four of six cuts with a T-12 and T-10 in that span.
Reed has been sort of humming along lately which is why his odds are as long as they are. His last top-10 was at the Memorial back in early June. Captain America is no stranger to links golf, however, as he has three Euro Tour wins in addition to all his PGA victories. His long-term rolling numbers look great, as he ranks 12th in this loaded field in total strokes gained over his past 48 rounds, including ninth in SG: Putting.
It’s usually when Reed goes overlooked that he does the most damage, and I feel like that’s what’s happening this week with all the big names we have up top. Getting 40/1 on the former Master’s champ in this spot is pretty juicy.
Bryson DeChambeau (+3400)
This number jumped off the page for me.
On one hand I get it; his Open Championship history isn’t great, his caddie recently left him, and his meltdown that occurred down the stretch at the U.S. Open is still fresh in everyone’s mind. On the other hand, he’s still an elite and cerebral golfer who hits it a mile and is an excellent putter. Taking everything into consideration, this number is a complete overreaction.
Over the last 50 rounds, Bryson ranks third in this field in bogey avoidance, which is always a key stat to consider when trying to handicap the Open Championship. Combine that with the wide fairways and tame wind forecasts we’re seeing for Royal St. George’s this week, I think Bryson’s game sets up well here. He should be able to take advantage of his length and have a lot of wedges into these large and undulating greens, which should present a lot of birdie opportunities.
Let’s take advantage of the public’s hesitation on Bryson, and grab this number which presents solid value.