Updated British Open 2022 Odds & Picks for Rory McIlroy, Cameron Smith, More
Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured: Rory McIlroy.
Click arrow to expand 2022 British Open odds via BetMGM
2022 British Open Odds
|Harold Varner III||+15000|
|Si Woo Kim||+20000|
|Erik van Rooyen||+20000|
|Min Woo Lee||+20000|
|Jorge Fernandez Valdes||+100000|
|Justin De Los Santos||+100000|
|Lars van Meijel||+100000|
Smack dab in the middle of what is proving to be a massively shifting professional golf landscape will be the ecstasy and irony of perhaps the grandest celebration in the game’s storied history, as the world’s oldest tournament turns 150 at its most venerable venue: the Old Course at St. Andrews.
Maybe this is just what golf needs at the perfect moment, with all of the world’s best players converging at the same tournament for ostensibly the final time this year and potentially for the final time in much more than that.
That’s a debate for another time, though, as I’ll commence this preview of The Open with a little history lesson.
The year was 1986 when the Masters Tournament reached its 50-year anniversary and for anyone with even a brief knowledge of these things, that should be ‘nuff said. Yes, Jack Nicklaus prevailed in a Sunday comeback for the ages that day, capturing his sixth green jacket at the age of 46, which was a pretty nice way for the Big 5-0 to be celebrated at Augusta National.
Fourteen years later, the USGA contested the 100th edition of the U.S. Open at a little place called Pebble Beach. Even if you couldn’t get the Nicklaus/1986 correlation off the tip of your tongue in time, this one should be even easier, as Tiger Woods triumphed by a record 15 strokes that week, turning No. 100 into his own personal coronation.
It appears the Golf Gods like these round-number anniversaries, rewarding the game with not just deserving champions, but all-time legends in the eventual winner’s circle, which is something to keep in mind as we look toward prognosticating this week’s events.
While those ubiquitous Golf Gods will undoubtedly join in for this celebration, it remains to be seen whether another metaphysical spirit will make her presence known.
Though Scottie Scheffler has been the best golfer on the planet so far this year, the game’s MVP is none other than Mother Nature. It took five days to finish THE PLAYERS Championship, which was muddled with weather from all four seasons during that time. Same thing for the ensuing three major championships, each of which experienced a modicum of both hot and cold, rain and shine, wind and calmness.
This is the major, of course, where we expect these things more than the others, but the early forecast calls for high temperatures between 68 and 72 for this week’s tournament rounds, with a smattering of rain at times and winds blowing between 10 mph and 25 mph, which is but a wee tickle for the folks in Fife.
Don’t be surprised if — or perhaps when — there are a few scores in the 63-64 range, or maybe even 62, if Mother Nature doesn’t show up for this celebration. The greatest defense for the Old Course is a stiff breeze, but if it never happens, well, Scheffler might just take MVP honors after all.
With all of that in mind, let’s get to the picks, starting with an outright winner who would very much follow that trend of big-time players winning majors on those major anniversaries.
One player to win the tournament.
Rory McIlroy (+1000)
A year and a month ago, Jon Rahm entered the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines with plenty of narratives in his favor — a venue that held a special place in his heart, a revenge/motivation factor after being forced to WD from the Memorial Tournament after a positive COVID result and, oh yeah, a reputation for being the best player in the world at that given moment. Sure, as the pre-tournament favorite, he owned short odds, but he always felt like the right play that week – one which paid off when he ultimately won.
Well, doesn’t McIlroy feel similar for this one?
Draped with his own collection of narratives entering the year’s final major, Rory has been on a tear over the past few months, posting seven consecutive top-20 finishes, though it’s the majors where he’s played some of his best golf — and I characterize that as “some of his best” because when you win four major titles by the age of 25, then go 0-for-the-next-eight-years, results of second place (Masters), eighth (PGA) and fifth (U.S. Open) only fuel more questions about what he could accomplish if — or when — he finally puts four complete rounds together at one of these events.
The truth is, each of those performances was plagued by a singular inconsistency — either one poor round or one poor stretch of holes or one poor club in the bag that he couldn’t quite figure out.
Why should this week be any different? There are a few reasons.
First of all, his game has appeared more locked in lately, especially from that range of 100-125 yards, which has so curiously befuddled him in recent years. Second, if Mother Nature indeed decides to not cooperate with our schadenfreudistic whims and give us 40 mph winds and sideways rain, birdies will be available in bunches and there’s nobody who piles ‘em up like Rory.
Then there’s the fact that he’s been the game’s most intelligent voice on all matters of recent change, which he told me last month hasn’t served as greater motivation to play better, but it’s easy to see off-course and on-course tenacity going hand-in-hand. And while his Open Championship record is a bit checkered recently, he owns a strong history at this tournament.
Last year’s T46 came in the midst of a discouraging summer, there was no event the previous year and in 2019, with the weight of a nation on his shoulders, he hit his first tee shot OB at Royal Portrush and a furious second-day rally couldn’t put him on the right side of the cutline, but prior to that, he’d finished 2nd-4th-5th-1st in consecutive Open Championship starts. While he missed the 2015 festivities at St. Andrews due to a soccer injury (remember that?), he was T3 here back in 2010.
If you really need another narrative besides all of those, then go back to what I wrote in the intro above. Some of the biggest anniversaries for the biggest tournaments have yielded the biggest names on top of the leaderboard. The idea of Jack, Tiger and Rory helps offer a nice bit of symmetry here.
Potential selections for one-and-done options.
Jordan Spieth (+1600)
If there’s one description for Spieth’s performance at the Scottish Open this past week, it’s that it was positively, well … Spiethy. (File that under: IYKYK.) From holing out wedge shots to get into contention to missing short putts to fall out of it, we got the full Spieth existence, running the gamut from brilliance to anguish throughout.
The main takeaway, though, is more positive than negative, as we were reminded once again that he’s at his best when creativity is a key element in shot-making and wedge play around the greens, as it certainly will be once again this week.
We’ll undoubtedly witness more brilliance from Spieth at St. Andrews, where he finished one stroke out of the three-man playoff in 2015. The big question is whether he can avoid those brief fits of anguish, posting an untimely double-bogey or two somewhere to cancel out so much of the good stuff.
Xander Schauffele (+1400)
It often amazes me how fickle the world of professional golf is — or perhaps more to the point, how fickle the world of professional golf analysis is. Tournaments are tough to win, so when an individual player does it a few times within a short span, he’s instantly vaulted to the level of “hottest golfer in the game” without a hint of hesitation.
Such is life right now for Schauffele, who didn’t win an official PGA TOUR title for 3 1/2 years, but he has now won his last two starts and in between claimed the two-day JP McManus Pro-Am. Of course, it’s easy to simply reason, “He can’t win another one…” which sounds exactly like something we probably said about Scottie Scheffler prior to the Masters a few months ago.
This feels like a good place for the regular mention of game theory in OADs (or major championship pools): I’d expect Schauffele to be a popular play this week for obvious reasons. If you’re leading and just looking to stiff-arm the field, he makes sense; if you’re trying to make up ground, it might be smarter to go a little more contrarian instead.
Shane Lowry (+2500)
My favorite play entering last month’s U.S. Open, Lowry parlayed a strong tee-to-green and around-the-greens performance into a brutal putting display, missing the cut by a stroke. Maybe he owes us one, maybe he owes himself one, but this probably isn’t the right week to jump ship from a former Open Championship winner who’s been playing the best golf of his life this year.
I don’t love him as an outright play at this price, especially considering the value of others who have longer odds, but I think he’s a smart OAD selection, especially if you’ve already used some of the other big guns.
Viktor Hovland (+4000)
It wasn’t that long ago when suggesting Hovland as a potentially contrarian play would’ve sounded ridiculous, but that’s not the case any longer, as he hasn’t finished inside the top-20 in a stroke-play event since March.
Looking at his season-long numbers, Hovland ranks 21st in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee, 10th in Strokes Gained: Approach and 28th in Strokes Gained: Putting, which sounds like a recipe for a standout campaign — until we remember that he’s 204th around the greens, ranking dead last.
It’s always going to be astounding how a player of his caliber can fare so poorly in one specific aspect of his game, but it’s one which might not hurt him as much this week. Sure, like all players, Hovland needs to be creative with a wedge in his hands, but this is hardly the uncomfortability of pitching out of thick bentgrass or chipping through gnarly Bermuda.
All of which is to say that I think there’s reason to believe his disadvantage will be minimized this week, making him an intriguing play for those who want to go against the grain but don’t want to risk taking a complete longshot.
Bryson DeChambeau (+5000)
Hey, the first three options on this OAD list were somewhat chalky, so I’m offering up a few others to consider, as well.
DeChambeau is anything but chalky right now. Prior to joining LIV Golf before the second event a few weeks ago, Bryson’s season was an amalgamation of injury and incompetence, as the player who once seemed destined to change the way golf is played underwent surgery for a broken hamate bone in his hand and has been relegated to an afterthought, with no finishes inside the top-50 at a full-field event since August.
Let that one sink in: Since last year’s FedEx Cup playoffs, he’s finished 11th, 14th and 25th in three limited-field events, then had a 56th, a 58th, four MCs and a WD before signing with LIV. That’s some serious ugliness and while I’m not suggesting he’s going to miraculously figure it all out this week, I do think there’s a chance he can simply bomb driver all over the golf course and only have to flight some wedges into the greens, essentially eliminating some of the poor iron play which has hurt him.
Much as Hovland’s biggest bugaboo could be minimized, there’s at least some reason to think Bryson’s could be, as well. Look, I might hate this play even more than you do, but if you really want to get weird with a pool pick, he’s an option.
One player to finish top-five.
Cameron Smith (+500 for top-five)
You may be excused for not recalling much about Smith’s results since winning THE PLAYERS in March and following with a third-place finish at the Masters a few weeks later. He hasn’t made similar headlines since then, but three finishes of 13th or better in six starts suggests his game isn’t too far off.
Ben Everill, my co-host on the Links & Locks podcast, has gotten to know his fellow Aussie very well over the years and repeatedly maintained on the pod that Smith is the type who owns that innate drive and determination to play his best golf in the biggest events. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s received some tips on playing the Old Course from his buddy Marc Leishman, who lost in a playoff to Zach Johnson here in 2015.
If another Aussie is going to replicate that feat, Smith is the man to do it this week.
One player to finish top-10.
Robert Macintyre (+900 for top-10)
This was bound to be a very popular “sleeper” selection before last week’s missed cut might’ve pushed a lot of poolsters in another direction.
For a player considered to be one of the game’s next rising stars, it hasn’t been a superb season by any measure for Macintyre, but there have certainly been signs that he’s still on the right track, especially with a T13 at the Irish Open just two weeks ago. What I really like here is that the Scotland native has made two Open Championship starts and finished T6 and T8. In fact, he’s never missed a single cut in nine career major championship appearances, perhaps proving that he’s the type who needs the spotlight of a big-time event to properly motivate him, though his self-revelation that he was “livid” after last week’s MC might negate that idea.
In any case, he’s a talented player with plenty of links golf experience. I’ll be on him for pools and DFS, but he makes some sense for prop plays such as this one.
One player to finish top-20.
Thomas Detry (+650 for top-20)
Years ago, I went out to dinner with Nicolas Colsaerts while I was working on a feature story about a man nicknamed “The Dude,” who once punctuated a winning Ryder Cup match by explaining, “You’ve just got to go with what you have in your pants.” I thought he was going to be one of the game’s next big stars. Great guy, but things unfortunately never quite worked out, as illness and injury have hampered his career.
It didn’t take long, though, for another big-hitting Belgian to break through, and there was a time I similarly believed Thomas Pieters was on the fast track for stardom. There’s still some potential for that, as the world’s 34th-ranked player is enjoying his most consistent season, if not his most spectacular.
He’s not a bad play for this week, either, but it’s yet another big-hitting Belgian who’s drawn my interest, as Detry is still seeking his first career DP World Tour victory but owns nine top-three results, including a playoff loss at last year’s Scottish Open. He followed up with a T-10 in that same event last week, one of two top-20s in his last three starts.
For a guy with some offensive firepower, much like his Belgium cohorts, he should make plenty of birdies this week if the conditions are benign enough.
One player to finish top-30.
Tiger Woods (+185 for top-30)
As I’m writing this preview on Sunday evening, the bottom-line ticker on ESPN is flashing this news story every few minutes: “Tiger plays 18 in preparation for The Open.”
Hey, I get it: He’s Tiger, it’s a major, we haven’t seen him in a few months and so any news is big news when it comes to the Big Cat. That said, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he played a practice round at St. Andrews — or that he’ll presumably play more of them as the week progresses.
I thought it was very telling that in the immediacy of his final round at the Masters, just after he limped off the 18th green of Augusta National, Woods wouldn’t commit to either the PGA Championship (where he made the cut, but later withdrew) or the U.S. Open (which he didn’t wind up playing), but did commit to The Open Championship, which might tell us everything we need to know about his love for the game’s history and for this event and, perhaps more specifically, for this venue.
There’s reason to believe he’s had this one circled on his calendar for a long time now, but it goes beyond just the historical components. This is a course where experience and nuance might supersede any other metrics, and it’s one where a 46-year-old with a bum leg/ankle/foot doesn’t have to fear the wear and tear of hilly terrain on his body, like those first two majors he played this year.
Perhaps the safer, smarter play here is a wager on Tiger to make the cut, but I think it’s a very real possibility that we see his name on the leaderboard through two days, only to falter a bit on the weekend.
Oh, and for those who are wondering aloud whether this could be a walk-off moment for him, that he’ll cross the Swilcan Bridge, wave to the adoring crowds and perhaps never play St. Andrews again, I don’t see it happening. If anything, this week should feel like business as usual for a man making just his third start in the past two years.
One player to finish top-40.
Justin Harding (+250 for top-40)
There are undeniably going to be bettors who blindly fade all LIV golfers, not just this week, but perhaps for any future events which are comprised of both factions of players. In most cases, this is less about any perceived biases toward the tour itself and more of a referendum on those who have chosen to play there. None of that means a LIVer like Dustin Johnson or Brooks Koepka can’t win this title, but the transition alone from 54-hole parties to the pressure-cooker of a major might prove to be more difficult as these players become accustomed to the new format.
If we’ve learned anything in the first two events, it’s that there’s value in the so-called mid-tier — players who might be more financially motivated than those who received large signing bonuses, but those who still own more game than the bottom-tier guys.
Harding, who posted three top-seven finishes in his last five starts in sanctioned tournaments before going to LIV and was T-66 at last week’s Scottish Open, is one of those who should retain value, both within that tour and, when applicable, outside of it. I wouldn’t go too overboard, but he makes for a nice top-40/DFS play here. Same goes for fellow unheralded LIVers such as Bernd Wiesberger, Scott Vincent and Sam Horsfield.
DFS Free Bingo Square
A safe plug-and-play option for DFS.
Matt Fitzpatrick (DK $9,700; FD $11,200)
It’s easy to insist this in retrospect, one month after he won a difficult U.S. Open test, but the longstanding narrative around Fitzpatrick playing his best golf in tough conditions, when the winning score is closer in relation to par, remains alive and well.
Fresh off a week in which he posted a four-round total of 3-under and finished T6 at the Scottish Open, there might be no player in this week’s field hoping for some brutal weather to emerge than Fitz, who will be more in his element if there’s another single-digit under-par score atop the leaderboard this week than something in the high-teens to low-twenties. Unfortunately, I think it’s going to be closer to the latter, but I still believe the U.S. Open champion is playing solid enough right now to contend when there are plenty of red numbers abound.
We know Fitzpatrick’s ceiling on the heels of winning the most recent major, but it’s his floor which offers so much appeal here. There aren’t too many no-doubt-about-ers amongst the elite; if I’m spending up, I want something close to a guarantee that I’m spending wisely. Priced just below red-hot Schauffele and just above major-ready Will Zalatoris, this could be a nice spot to gain some leverage with Fitzpatrick at just a bit of a depressed ownership percentage.
A lower-priced option for DFS.
Jordan L. Smith (DK $7,200; FD $7,600)
With each of the major DFS sites releasing prices prior to last week’s Scottish Open, we have the benefit of catching a few mispriced players who enter this week with some links form.
Of course, our benefit is everyone else’s benefit, too, so it’s not like we’re catching the field off-guard here. Not to be confused for Jordan Spieth or Cameron Smith (or Matthew Jordan, for that matter), Smith is coming off a semi-title contention, as he was in the mix for three rounds at the Renaissance Club before posting a final-round 4-over 74 to finish in a share of 24th.
Smith has now posted six straight top-25s, which makes his price egregiously discounted, especially on FanDuel, where he’s just $600 above the minimum. I expect him to be a popular play this week, much like Joohyung (Tom) Kim and, to a lesser extent, Jason Scrivener and Dean Burmester, all of whom also played well last week.
I’ll have more Smith investments in my lineups than those others, but the point remains that early pricing has yielded some big-time bargains here.
One player to post the low score Thursday.
Tommy Fleetwood (+4500 for FRL)
I was on a little summer vacation last week and didn’t write an official preview for the Scottish, but I did submit my picks for our weekly analysis on the PGA TOUR’s digital platform and Fleetwood was my guy, though his Sunday bid was ultimately too little, too late, as he finished in a share of fourth place.
I like Fleetwood nearly as much this week, as it feels like he’s turning the corner from “solid, consistent results” to “title contentions” once again. He finished third in the field in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green in the final round and second in Strokes Gained: Approach, which I often believe can be predictive metrics for the following week.
When my ranking of the entire field is released this week, I’ll have Fleetwood very high on that list — higher than many other top-10 players. I’m admittedly less confident in his chances for FRL this week, as he’s broken 70 just once in his last eight Thursday rounds, but I’ll chalk this one up to a hunch play tinged with an educated guess, based on that strong ball-striking performance in his most recent round.
One player who should beat comparable players.
Sahith Theegala (+15000)
Originally, Theegala wasn’t even in this major championship field. That’s not a sentence I believe I’ll type again for another decade or two, as his star-power will someday have him listed amongst the pre-tournament favorites at a major. For this one, he needed a late withdrawal from Daniel Berger to get the call, but the rookie who shoulda/woulda/coulda won the Travelers Championship should reap the benefits of his late entry.
Among those similarly listed at 150-1 are Phil Mickelson, Padraig Harrington, Si Woo Kim, Brian Harman and Erik Van Rooyen. I’d hammer Theegala at a -110 number against any of those players and don’t mind him at plus-money against plenty of guys with a shorter outright price.
As I’ve been saying for much of the year, he’s too talented to ignore at the odds he’s been listed. We won’t find him at anything close to 150-1 in a U.S.-based event anytime soon, so take the value when and where you can get it.
Also Receiving Votes
Patrick Cantlay (+2500), Tyrrell Hatton (+3500), Hideki Matsuyama (+3500), Louis Oosthuizen (+4000), Max Homa (+6000), Marc Leishman (+6500), Ryan Fox (+8000), Thomas Pieters (+10000), Lucas Herbert (+10000), Kevin Kisner (+15000), Dean Burmester (+20000), Dylan Frittelli (+20000), Adri Arnaus (+25000), Jason Scrivener (+25000), Laurie Canter (+25000), Thriston Lawrence (+30000)
The Big Fade
One top player to avoid at this tournament.
Justin Thomas (+1600)
The golf prognostication business is often more about being proactive than reactive, but it’s hard not to connect some dots on Thomas right now.
Just a few weeks ago, he withdrew prior to the Travelers Championship with a back injury and while that might have seemed like a precautious decision, his ensuing social media posts inquiring about podcast recommendations certainly made it seem like he wasn’t being too active in the aftermath. He returned at last week’s Scottish Open, though scores of 73-77 featured a double-bogey and 13 bogeys in 36 holes, leaving him well off the cutline and leaving us wondering whether the back injury is still an issue. T
hen there’s this, which he said prior to the opening round: “For as much as I love links golf and The Open Championship, I have not played it very well in my career.” He’s right about that, with results of 53rd-MC-MC-11th-40th going back to 2016. For as much as it pains me to fade a player who’s capable of playing his best golf on any given week, this number is simply too short for all of the things working against him right now.