2021 British Open Picks: Our Best Outright Bets at Royal St. George’s (July 16-19)
Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images. Pictured: Rory McIlroy
- The 2021 British Open begins on Thursday, July 15 at Royal St. George's in Sandwich, England.
- Jon Rahm is the favorite to win the Claret Jug, but the Open is known as the most unpredictable of all the major championships.
- Check out our favorite outright picks to win the final major of the year.
There is nothing quite like The Open Championship. From the iconic links-style courses to the rugged scoring conditions, this major championship stands out as one of the best betting events on the 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.
Here are our favorite outright bets for the 2021 Open Championship at Royal St. George’s:
Lee Westwood (+5000)
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 (+6600)
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.
Rory McIlroy (+2200)
Jordan Spieth’s odds have dipped and that, in turn, has boosted Rory McIlroy back onto my radar. Rory has said all of the right things for me to go back to the well after I backed him at a similar number to win the U.S. Open.
Rory had an early exit at last week’s Scottish Open, which on the positive end allowed him to get to Royal St. George’s early and start working through the course. He mentioned on Tuesday that he “found something” in his swing that has translated well in his work leading up to the event.
Rory also has a track record of great finishes and wins off of missed cuts, showing that we really shouldn’t buy into his prior result too much. I’m looking past that and also excusing him from the 2019 Open in his home country where he seemed to fold under the pressure with an awful opening hole and subsequent round.
I’ve been a week or two early on a number of guys this year, but I’m getting back in on Rory here before that happens again.
Justin Thomas (+2000)
Justin Thomas is due for another major championship victory. His one and only major championship came at the 2017 PGA Championship at Quail Hollow, but there are signs pointing to the 2021 Open Championship as his inevitable second major.
While the Open Championship doesn’t feel like a natural fit for JT, recent events have shown that he is making a concerted effort to change that. After missing two straight cuts at The Open in 2017 and 2018, Thomas finished T11 at Royal Portrush in 2019. The 28-year-old has placed an added emphasis on playing more in Europe the past few years to refine his skills on links tracks. Thomas has played in the two most recent Scottish Open’s, finishing T9 and T8 in those two starts.
Thomas’ appearance at The Renaissance Club last week was very encouraging for his chances at Royal St. George’s. He gained 4.5 strokes off the tee, which had been a cause for concern during much of the season. He seems to have gotten his driver back on track just in time to contend this week. JT’s around the green game is always spectacular, but it was on full display in Scotland where he 6.2 strokes and led the field. Being able to get up and down from difficult spots will be crucial this week and there is no one I trust more to do so than Thomas.
JT has corrected his driving mistakes, made improvements with the putter, and put in the work to make sure his game is well suited for links golf. That sounds like a perfect recipe to lift the Claret Jug at Royal St. George’s.
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 (+3500)
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.