2021 Open Championship Betting Odds, Preview, Picks: Top 5 Course Fits at Royal St. George’s
Warren Little/R&A/R&A via Getty Images. Pictured: Jason Day.
After 24 months without the joys of the Open Championship, golf returns to its roots this week for the final major of the year. Royal St. George’s will play host to the Open for the 15th time after a rich history of compelling tournaments.
The last two times the Open has been played at Royal St. George’s, the winners have been longshots. In 2011, Darren Clarke became the oldest man to ever win the Open and the oldest ever first-time major winner. In 2003, Ben Curtis was crowned as champion in his first-ever major appearance while ranked 396th in the world.
This week certainly could see more of the same, but golf’s biggest names are also primed to make a run at the Claret Jug.
Royal St. George’s and the Open Championship will favor a specific set of skills and the players who can best adapt to the curiosities of links golf.
Matthew Fitzpatrick (+3000)
No English golfer has won the Open Championship since Nick Faldo in 1992. An Englishman hasn’t won the Open in England since Tony Jacklin did so in 1969.
It’s a tall task facing Fitzpatrick and his compatriots, but it’s a task that Fitzpatrick feels apt to handle.
He finished T-20 at the most recent Open Championship and has always shown the shot-shaping and creativity needed to succeed in links golf.
Fitzpatrick enters the tournament with some momentum, finishing T-2 at last week’s Scottish Open.
Danny Willett (+25000)
The analytics experts at DataGolf use a tool to determine which skills are best suited for each course or tournament each week. Their model favors players who are successful around the green this week, with links-style golf demanding creativity with chips and pitch shots.
That favors a player like Willett, another Englishman, who ranks third on the PGA Tour this season in Strokes Gained Around the Green. He has used that skill well at previous Open Championships, making his last five cuts in the event with two top-six finishes in that span.
A player with his skill set — with a major championship to his credit and a background in links golf — is a great value with odds this high. If Willett is in contention during the weekend, he’ll have the support of his English countrymen.
Jason Day (+7500)
Similarly, Jason Day has always used his short game prowess to work his way around the difficult greens found at the Open Championship. Day led the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Around the Green in 2020 and enters this week riding back-to-back top 15 finishes in the States.
Day has played well in this event in prior years. He’s missed the cut in only one of his nine Open Championship appearances. The last time the Open visited Royal St. George’s, Day finished in a tie for 30th, shooting 72 or better on three of the tournament’s four days.
Henrik Stenson (+2000 for Top 10)
In recent weeks, Stenson has not inspired a ton of confidence that he will be able to compete at the Open Championship. He’s made just one of his last five cuts and did so at a European Tour event in Sweden that he co-hosted. In fact, Stenson has not carded a round in the 60s in any of his 15 professional events in 2021.
Yet, if there’s an event that can re-invigorate Stenson, it may be the Open Championship. The 2016 Champion Golfer of the Year has the second-best scoring average in the event since 2015.
Best scoring average at #TheOpen since 2015 (min. 10 rounds in span):
— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGolf) July 13, 2021
His ball-striking has always fared well in the weather of the Open Championship. It’s worth a gamble at these long odds this week.
Xander Schauffele (+1800)
At this point, it feels like Schauffele is going to be one of the favorites and a popular pick at every major until he breaks through and collects his first major victory.
There are plenty of reasons for that to continue happening, particularly because Schauffele continues to play well on golf’s toughest tests. He’s never missed a cut at the Open Championship, and absurdly, has finished in the top 10 in more than half of the majors he has played.
1.81 strokes gained total per round on links style courses, 3rd-most among players with 10+ rounds the last decade.
Top-10 finishes in more than half of his career major starts.
T-10 last week in Scotland. Held 54-hole co-lead at Carnoustie. https://t.co/0nAB9CRRGG
— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGolf) July 13, 2021
He has abandoned his experience with arm-lock putting and looks poised to sit near the top of the leaderboard again this weekend.