2021 Open Championship First-Round Leader Odds & Picks: 5 Plays for Thursday at Royal St. George’s
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images. Pictured: Cam Smith
The most fun week in all of golf — for fans, media, players and caddies — is once again upon us. The 149th Open Championship at Royal St. George’s kicks off on Thursday for whichever players are still in the field by then.
After missing the 2020 Open Championship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Southeast England is finally getting it chance to shine, exactly a decade after Darren Clarke lifted the trophy here.
Grab your tea and your fancy McDonald’s menus because it’s time for the final men’s major of 2021.
Here’s a look at my favorite First-Round Leader bets for the 149th Open Championship.
Jon Rahm, +1800
Yeah, I know picking the favorite isn’t really that helpful. But here’s the thing, the current World No. 2 and reigning U.S. Open champion is playing incredibly well.
Rahm made his first start last week (at the abrdn Scottish Open) since becoming a major champion and finished solo 7th. The fiery Spaniard made his fourth start in an Open Championship at Royal Portrush in 2019, finishing a career-high T-11.
It’s not surprising that Rahm is a good links player. Spaniards are known for their ability to flight the ball low and create shots where other players don’t see them. Rahm is riding a wave of momentum right now coming into the season’s last major, and he’s the clear favorite to win the tournament, so I’ll take 18-1 that he leads after Round 1. You can find that number at PointsBet.
Justin Thomas, +3300
I wasn’t very bullish on Thomas going into the vowel-less Scottish Open. His ball striking numbers have been worse than we are used to seeing. Despite that, JT tied for 8th last week in what was his highest finish since winning the PLAYERS in March.
Thomas, like Rahm, also finished in that tie for 11th in 2019 in the Open’s return to Ireland. He seemed to have found some confidence at the Renaissance Club, despite hitting the world’s most relatable shot on Saturday. PointsBet, Unibet and Bet Rivers all have 33-1 on Thomas, with most others at 28-1.
Louis Oosthuizen, +4000
When Oosthuizen won The Open in 2010 at St. Andrew’s, he entered the week 200-1 (!!). Since his major win, the South African has amassed nine top-10’s in this event. He has become a stalwart in majors after his maiden win, which was only the second cut he had ever made in a major.
In 2021 alone, Louis already has two runner-up finishes in majors (2nd at US Open, T-2 at PGA). His “worst” major finish this year is a T-26 at the Masters in April.
Matthew Fitzpatrick, +4500
I know, I love Fitz. And last week was a great example of why. He ultimately lost in a three-way playoff on Sunday, but his game is so good on these types of courses. He is an elite ball striker, and that comes in handy here.
Fitzy made the cut in all three of this year’s majors, with his best finish coming as a T-23 at the PGA in May. His best finish at The Open came in 2019 with a tie for 20th.
DraftKings has Fitzpatrick at 45-1, the best price in the U.S. market.
Cam Smith, +6600
Like Fitz, Cam Smith is often a name I find myself betting on Thursday. He leads the TOUR in first round scoring, with an average of 69.1. Smith grew up playing sandy courses in Australia, which has historically translated well at The Open.
Smith, like Fitz, also finished T-20 at Portrush in 2019. The young Aussie’s ball striking stats were phenomenal that year. You’re getting a great value on him this week and hard to deny how good he has been in majors. Unibet and Bet Rivers have him at 66-1.
Lucas Herbert, +8000
Another young Aussie, Herbert is a household name for me (since his 2020 Omega Dubai Desert Classic win, at least) but maybe not for others. After his good play in Europe, Herbert started playing more on the PGA Tour this season. He’s been playing well, also.
That good play traveled over to Ireland a fortnight ago when Herbert won the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open. He followed that win up with a top-10 in Scotland the next week.
Herbert is a longshot this week, but he has played so well in GB&I the last two weeks, it’s hard to imagine he won’t have a great week at The Open. DraftKings has Herbert at 80-1.
Full 2021 British Open First-Round Leader Odds
Odds via PointsBet
|Min Woo Lee||+10000|
|Erik van Rooyen||+12500|
|Harold Varner III||+15000|
|Byeong Hun An||+15000|
|Daniel van Tonder||+17500|
|Richard T. Lee||+30000|