2021 British Open Props & Matchup Picks: Why We Like Kevin Kisner, Christiaan Bezuidenhout & More
Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured: Stewart Cink.
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.
Check out our favorite props and matchup bets for the 2021 Open Championship:
Christiaan Bezuidenhout Top-10 finish (+650)
Let me know if you can spot the pattern here: At the PGA Championship, Bezuidenhout was T-5 entering the final round, then shot a 77 to finish T-30. At the U.S. Open, he was T-9 entering the final round, then shot a 76 to finish T-31.
For a player whose story of drinking rat poison as a young child and developing a stutter, amongst other health issues, could explain a potential reluctance to perform better in front of a massive media contingent and be forced to tell his tale once again, there could be more to these poor final-round scores than just failing to hit the right shots.
I’m going to bank on something else, though. Instead, I’ll chalk this up to a young player needing to learn how to feel confident and gain experience in these situations. Bezuidenhout obviously has the game — and his wedges around the green are some of the best in the world, which should suit him well this week.
At some point, it’s going to click for four rounds on a bigger stage and I think a major outside the U.S. seems like the right week for it.
Kevin Kisner Top-10 finish (+1400)
It has been an ugly season for Kevin Kisner, which featured a stretch of six missed cuts in seven events prior to the U.S. Open. He has bounced back after making the cut at Torrey Pines to then post two top-10 finishes at the Travelers and Rocket Mortgage.
Kisner has always been a streaky player, and he has always had a game that suited the difficult conditions at the Open. He has made his last four cuts at this event, including a runner-up finish in 2018 to Francesco Molinari. I’m happy to take the form, momentum and positive course fit at double-digit odds for Kisner to finish on the first page of the leaderboard.
Lee Westwood Top-5 finish (+1000)
At the 2019 Open Championship, we saw Shane Lowry earn an emotional victory in his home country of Ireland.
This week, Lee Westwood will be looking to do the same thing in England.
The 48-year-old Englishman has had an excellent season with two second-place finishes back in March. Although he has cooled off since, he showed last week in Scotland that he should not be a forgotten man this week at Royal St. George’s.
If there is any event where age is not a major factor, it is the Open Championship. Westwood helped to prove that by finishing fourth in 2019 at 46 years old. The average age of winners is higher at the Open than any of the other three majors, and I am confident that age won’t preclude Westwood from coming out on top this week.
The putter has let Westwood down in the past, but he has been a better putter in Europe than in the United States. After gaining 4.8 strokes with the putter last week, he should be able to roll that momentum into the slower greens in England this week.
Robert MacIntyre Top-10 Finish (+700)
The big lefty from Scotland has shown to be impervious to pressure in big-time events over his young career. He’s now 6-for-6 in making cuts at major championships, including a T-12 this past April at Augusta and T-6 at this very event back in 2019.
MacIntyre is strong off the tee and around the green, both of which will be hugely important this week at Royal St. George’s. Overall, he’s having a really strong season, making 13 of his 14 cuts including a T-18 last week at the Scottish Open. I do think it’s possible he contends this week, so betting him to be in the top 10 is a worthwhile wager.
Stewart Cink Top-30 Finish (+300)
There’s no doubt that the 48-year-old has put together a very impressive 2021 campaign, which includes six top-30 finishes and a win. He does not get the credit he deserves from the betting public, which makes finding props like this all the more satisfying.
Over the last 24 rounds, Cink ranks in this field in strokes gained approach, which is quite impressive given the quality of players at Royal St. George’s. He certainly has the iron game to compete here.
Cink’s experience in this event should also give him a nice leg up on the competition. In eight career starts, he has five top-30 finishes at The Open Championship.
While he may not have the firepower it takes to win a major at this stage of his career, his consistent ball striking and experience across the pond should be able to catapult him into the top 30, where he’s +300 at DraftKings.
Tyrrell Hatton (-120) over Bryson DeChambeau
Gimme the whole world against Bryson this week.
I’ve written this before, but one of the ways I believe golf betting can (and, fingers crossed, will) improve in coming years is the implementation of matchups for any player against any other player — whether this means through balanced odds as it’s done now or a “point spread,” which would allow you to take, say, an amateur against Jon Rahm at +9.5 strokes over two days or something like that. Such implementation would offer a true way to fade players that you really don’t like on a given week.
Of course, for major championships, more of these H2Hs are available, so we’re able to play such fades, to an extent.
I believe that every advantage DeChambeau owns in an event like the U.S. Open is neutralized this week. Distance should be a non-factor, and he’s just an average wedge player. Throw in a new caddie and the extra noise rattling around in his head right now and he’s a major fade for me.
Among the players he’s matched up against, I don’t mind taking Tony Finau, Patrick Cantlay, Dustin Johnson or even Adam Scott, but in my 1-156 ranking of the entire Open Championship field, the biggest discrepancy I have between DeChambeau and a player he’s matched up against is with Hatton, whom I expect to linger on the leaderboard throughout the weekend.
Tyrrell Hatton (+105) over Collin Morikawa
This is simply a play where I think the wrong player is favored for this particular event.
Hatton has shown over his career to be one of the best links-style golfers in the world, and while he hasn’t shown up too many times at most Major Championships, he does have two top-10 finishes at The Open.
Morikawa is an elite player, but we have seen that this layout can play much differently than what TOUR players see weekly in the states, and it often takes multiple appearances to post a top finish.
If the winds kick up as expected and the course begins to dry out, I trust Hatton to figure out how to grind his game for a solid finish better than Morikawa.
Brooks Koepka (-110) over Xander Schauffele
Koepka is quite easily the best major championship player in golf.
At the U.S. Open, Koepka came into the event in relatively poor form and more than delivered in relation to his price tag. He comes to Royal St. George’s coming off of back-to-back top-5 finishes, having gained an average of 8.6 strokes tee to green in those starts. I expect the four time major champion to be there, one way or another, come Sunday.
Schauffele is certainly capable of a high finish but is overvalued in this matchup, as he typically is. I’ll take the guy I know can actually win.
Patrick Cantlay (-110) over Bryson DeChambeau (DK)
These are two guys heading in opposite directions at the moment. It sort of feels like Bryson is in freefall mode after splitting with his long time caddie right before the Rocket Mortgage. Cantlay on the other hand is back in peak form after a brief four week stretch of four play. He won at Memorial and backed that up with a T-15 at the U.S Open.
This being a par-70 I give the massive edge to Cantlay here, as distance is largely irrelevant at a course like this. It will be all about keeping the ball in the fairway and avoiding the pot bunkers. DeChambeau ranks 112th in this field over the last 48 rounds in driving accuracy, while Cantlay sits 43rd. The line is essentially pick ’em here, so give me the in form rock solid option over the head case.
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