2023 British Open Best Bets: Expert Picks to Win the Open Championship
Via Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images. Pictured: Collin Morikawa of the United States looks through his yardage book on the fourth tee during the third round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club on July 01, 2023 in Detroit, Michigan.
The 2023 British Open is here — which means it's time to look at our 2023 British Open Best Bets: Expert Picks to Win the Open Championship.
Our staff has analyzed the 2023 British Open odds board and found their 2023 British Open best bets and favorite expert picks for this week's major championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.
Check out our Action Network golf betting expert picks and previews for the 151st Open Championship, including picks for Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland, Max Homa, Jordan Smith & more as we go through our 2023 British Open best bets.
2023 British Open Best Bets
Sobel: Viktor Hovland +2500 (FanDuel)
Hovland's first round tee time: 9:48 a.m. ET
The best player in the world – from an analytical perspective, at least – is Scottie Scheffler, whose ball-striking numbers are so admirable that we can’t help but compare them to those of Tiger Woods in his prime. The second-best player, according to the world ranking, is Rory McIlroy, who leapfrogged Jon Rahm with last week’s victory. The fact of the matter, though, is that any of these three can quickly make us forget about the other two.
In today’s fickle world of what-have-you-done-for-me-lately, all it takes is a couple of brilliant performances to move to the head of the class. Rather than trying to separate them, perhaps the bigger question to ask is which player will be the next to join them.
Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay have each made bids, though it’s tough to separate one from the other, let alone move one into the next echelon. Jordan Spieth hasn’t quite done enough recently, nor has Collin Morikawa or Tyrrell Hatton, despite the latter’s sublime play. Based on talent alone, Brooks Koepka and Cameron Smith should both be considered in this tier, though it’s difficult to rate them when they only compete against the world’s other best players four times each year.
We’re left with one name which I think will be the next to make this leap, perhaps with his first major championship victory this week. We’ve known for years that Viktor Hovland owns an immense amount of talent, and now that talent is manifesting into more title contentions.
Personally, I believe the tipping point came at the PGA Championship two months ago. In contention on the 70th hole of the tournament, Hovland lined a fairway bunker shot into the front end of that bunker, made double-bogey and essentially eliminated himself from the mix. Some 30 minutes later, he signed his scorecard, offered one short interview and skulked away.
This wasn’t the happy-go-lucky Hovland that we’re accustomed to seeing, but it also wasn’t a guy who was heartbroken over losing that big opportunity. No, he looked mad – as if he was ready to play another major championship that very moment, if they’d let him. Two weeks later, he won the Memorial Tournament in a playoff, showing off the kind of clutch performance necessary to claim major titles.
It might be ignorant to suggest a switch was flipped inside Hovland at Oak Hill which transformed him into a steely-eyed competitor, but something about that moment broke him and changed him and, in my opinion, hardened him for winning more big tournaments moving forward.
This season, the Norwegian ranks 13th in Strokes Gained: Total and 10th in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green. As usual, his biggest bugaboo remains wedge shots around the greens, though that disadvantage will be neutralized on a links course such as Hoylake, where it’s not like he’ll be pitching out of thick Bermuda or heavy bentgrass. Hell, he can putt everything from 50 yards out and closer.
When we find a player with one glaring negative and basically eliminate that part of the game, we should expect a surge in performance, and that’s exactly what I like about Hovland this week.
He’s contended in majors, he’s gotten a taste, and he’s won big events. It’s time for him to assert himself among the world’s best players – perhaps not quite on the same level with Scheffler, McIlroy and Rahm, but with a win this week, he won’t be too far behind them.
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Murphy: Collin Morikawa +3500 (DraftKings)
Morikawa's first round tee time: 10:10 a.m. ET
I keep chasing that next Morikawa win, and I will do so again this week at Hoylake. He’s been trending in the right direction over the past couple of months, with his peak coming his last time out at the Rocket Mortgage Classic where he lost in a playoff to Rickie Fowler.
The first key for Morikawa is always the ball-striking — he has gained three or more shots on approach in seven of his last eight measured events and has matched it with more than two strokes gained off the tee in each of his past three tournament appearances.
The ball-striking is at a place where I feel comfortable that he can get back to his form of being in contention any week he brings the putter with that Strokes Gained: Tee to Green game. That was the case in Detroit, as he gained more than three shots on that field putting, and it had him right there for a chance to win.
I love that we have that all trending the right way as he heads into the tournament that was his last win, when he captured the Claret Jug two years ago.
Aguiar: Bet Max Homa
Homa's first round tee time: 10:10 a.m. ET
I will leave the exact answer open for interpretation since we still have additional wagers entering the market that may be conducive for the American, Max Homa.
A matchup bet against Justin Thomas is one possible route to consider because of Homa's respectable floor versus a boom-or-bust outlook for Thomas.
I also think anything inside the placement market is worth considering since the market is undervaluing Homa's upside because of the long-term struggles at majors.
Still, five made cuts in his last seven grand slam events should begin to give us the potential for a higher ceiling + floor combination. He is this week’s version of Wyndham Clark at the U.S. Open, and I will be backing him in one or multiple ways this week, including an outright bet at +6000.
Bretwisch: Jordan Smith Top 40 +170 (FanDuel)
Smith's first round tee time: 3:25 a.m. ET
Per usual, my best bet is on the conservative end of the placement market with the English fairway finder, Jordan Smith. Smith is in excellent form coming off of a T12 finish at the Genesis Scottish Open where he ranked inside the top 10 in ball-striking and top 15 in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee.
Leading up to the Scottish Open. Smith finished inside the top 40 in four straight events, including a T20 at the U.S. Open.
The only downside in Jordan Smith’s profile for Hoylake is his erratic scrambling, but his short game is trending in the right direction with two straight positive Strokes Gained showings around the green.
For whatever it’s worth, Jordan had his best putting performance since the PGA Championship (although it was still on the weaker side) at the Scottish Open. I have Jordan Smith to finish in the top 40 priced at +140 and will take the points of perceived value all day.
2023 Open Championship Expert Picks, Fades
Favorites We’re Backing
- Jason Sobel: Viktor Hovland
- Chris Murphy: Cameron Smith
- Spencer Aguiar: Patrick Cantlay
- Nick Bretwisch: Jon Rahm
Best Long Shot
- Sobel: Adam Scott
- Murphy: Louis Oosthuizen
- Aguiar: Max Homa
- Bretwisch: Hideki Matsuyama
- Sobel: Patrick Cantlay
- Murphy: Jon Rahm
- Aguiar: Jordan Spieth
- Bretwisch: Collin Morikawa
Contrarian Player To Target
- Sobel: Louis Oosthuizen
- Murphy: Si Woo Kim
- Aguiar: Jason Day
- Bretwisch: Talor Gooch
Trend That Guides Your 2023 British Open Betting Strategy
Sobel: If you’re finding it difficult to look beyond the chalk, take a number and stand in line.
In addition to the preview you’re reading right now, I’ll have a top-25 ranking later this week, but don’t expect too many surprises. If we’ve learned anything in recent years, it’s that the cream rises on those bright yellow leaderboards.
Let’s take a look at the last four of ‘em, starting in 2018:
Though a half-decade later he’s a shell of the player he once was, Francesco Molinari was one of the world’s best at this point in his career. So, too, to a degree, was Kevin Kisner, while the other three should hardly need any explanation.
Once again, you might not have picked Shane Lowry to win that week at Royal Portrush, but none of these names should come as a surprise.
The Open Championship wasn't held in 2020, but it returned in 2021:
With three years of data and 15 names, we finally find our first outlier in Dylan Frittelli, although he’d spent much of that year inside the top 100 of the Official World Golf Ranking.
And finally 2022:
Once again, perhaps Cameron Young was a bit of an eyebrow-raiser as runner-up but only due to a lack of experience, not a deficiency of talent.
Really, we have four consecutive editions of The Open Championship and maybe one player – maybe – who qualifies as a top-five surprise, and even he was at the back end of that leaderboard placement.
This should help us come to grips with this conclusion: Even if we’re not rooting for chalk, it might be inevitable.
Murphy: Similar to last week, this tournament is as much about players who have experience and historical success around links golf as much as it is about their current playing form.
There are a number of players who tend to show up on the first two pages of the leaderboard whom I wouldn’t give a second thought to in a typical week. This is especially true in DFS, but it will play out in the placement markets and beyond on the betting side.
Aguiar: Royal Liverpool has out-of-bounds everywhere off the tee. This is one of the reasons we saw Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods both play extremely cautiously during their respective wins here in 2006 and 2014.
Wide open conditions are a potential issue if winds do pick up since there is no protection from the coast. That is essentially European golf, but the large green complexes land as another weighable commodity to highlight when running numbers.
Three-putt avoidance will be key to bypass mistakes. Scrambling is essential for the sand dunes and thick tough that will loom at all turns.
However, the land being extremely flat is one interesting quirk to the property. That slightly changes the dynamics for approach shots and chips from around the green.
Bretwisch: It will be a very interesting tournament to both watch and bet on this week at Hoylake. Outside of taking a shot on Hideki Matsuyama at 80/1, I want solid mid-long iron players in good form who have competed at a high level at Open Championships.
There will be a lot of stress on ball-striking and accuracy off the tee, but I also want players who can scramble.
Fairways will be missed, and greens will be missed. Those who can avoid a big number after an inevitable errant tee shot or approach will succeed this weekend.