2023 Open Championship Odds & Expert Picks: Bet Viktor Hovland & Louis Oosthuizen at Royal Liverpool

2023 Open Championship Odds & Expert Picks: Bet Viktor Hovland & Louis Oosthuizen at Royal Liverpool article feature image

Via Getty Images. Pictured: Viktor Hovland.

Not long after Rory McIlroy’s victory at the Genesis Scottish Open on Sunday, there was an exchange with a fan which would soon go viral on social media.

Fan: Rory, you won me 300 pounds.

McIlroy: I won a wee bit more.

It was the type of informal interaction between player and bettor which should warm the hearts of those who make weekly golf investments. This wasn’t a fan who yelled in another competitor’s backswing to help his personal wager or one who trolled a player on Twitter for “losing” him money.

Maybe the tradition-rich practice of betting on golf in the U.K. helped this remain casual; maybe the observer just struck the right tone at the right time, or Rory’s own congenial response kept it lighthearted.

Whatever the case, there are going to be plenty of bettors hoping to thank McIlroy for winning them some money at the conclusion of this week’s 151st Open Championship.

I hope you didn’t blink over the last three-and-a-half months because mixed into the usual Senate subcommittee hearings and mergers that aren’t really mergers, we’re on the verge of contesting the fourth and final major championship of yet another surreal year filled with as much off-course golf news as anything taking place inside the ropes.

For perhaps the first time at a major this year, the news in the days leading up to the opening round might revolve more around actual golf than its impending future, though there’s a nonzero chance that by the time you’re reading this, another massive disruption will hit the news cycle, and we’ll be left focusing elsewhere again.

Until then, McIlroy remains the biggest storyline, fresh off his first win since January and heading to familiar territory at Royal Liverpool, site of his lone Open Championship victory nine years ago.

Depending on the book, he’s either this week’s pre-tournament favorite or co-favorite (alongside Scottie Scheffler) and has already canceled his previously scheduled Tuesday press conference, only adding to the intrigue of this event’s build-up.

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:

1Francesco Molinari-8
T2Kevin Kisner-6
T2Rory McIlroy-6
T2Justin Rose-6
T2Xander Schauffele-6

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.

Next 2019:

1Shane Lowry-15
2Tommy Fleetwood-9
3Tony Finau-7
T4Brooks Koepka-6
T4Lee Westwood-6

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:

1Collin Morikawa-15
2Jordan Spieth-13
T3Louis Oosthuizen-11
T3Jon Rahm-11
5Dylan Frittelli-9

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:

1Cameron Smith-20
2Cameron Young-19
3Rory McIlroy-18
T4Tommy Fleetwood-14
T4Viktor Hovland-14

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.

I’ve got plenty of big names listed below, though I’m going just behind the top end of the top tier for my favorite outright, a golfer who just happened to play in last year’s final pairing on Sunday – and his name isn’t Rory McIlroy.

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Outright Winner (Short odds)

One player to win the tournament

Viktor Hovland (+2200)

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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Outright Winner (Long odds)

One player to win the tournament

Louis Oosthuizen (+11000) & Henrik Stenson (+40000)

For the past year-and-a-half, any mention of a LIV Golf player immediately turns polarizing: If it’s a positive comment, then you must be a LIV lover; if it’s negative, you’re a LIV hater. This has even carried over to the prognostication game, where affiliation has never previously initiated bias.

If you’re reading this, you’re likely a gambler, which means you’re probably nodding your head right now in full agreement that nothing else matters if the ticket cashes. Anyone who played Brooks Koepka at the PGA Championship should understand this — and those who boycotted a backing of Brooks that week should understand it even better, knowing what they missed.

(And yes, it might not be a majority or even a decent percentage of bettors, but there were those who faded Koepka at Oak Hill simply because of some arcane idea, likely enhanced by his Masters Sunday falter, that a few of the world’s best players had forgotten how to compete for more than 54 holes.)

We’ve since learned a few things about the LIV defectors:

  1. They can contend at majors and even win. In fact, it’s difficult to argue against the idea that the limited schedule actually helps their preparation and mindset. While the PGA Tour’s elite must gear up for an extended run of designated events, LIV’s best can circle major weeks on the calendar and potentially focus better on them.
  2. Form doesn’t matter. I don’t mean this as some denigration toward LIV, but whereas recent PGA Tour results largely reflect upon the better candidates to contend at a major, that often hasn’t been the case for LIV players. Sure, Koepka won before finishing with a share of runner-up honors at the Masters and was T5 before winning the PGA Championship, but Phil Mickelson was the other Masters runner-up despite finishing T41 in his last LIV start, and Cameron Smith was the top LIV finisher at the U.S. Open, even though he’d finished outside the top 10 on that tour’s most recent leaderboard.
  3. Mirroring public sentiment, oddsmakers have finally started pricing the best LIV players accordingly (namely Koepka and Smith), while still undervaluing the rest of ‘em.

All of which leads to the two players listed at the top of this section. I don’t think Louis Oosthuizen or Henrik Stenson is going to win this week. Let me say that louder for the Twitter trolls in the back who only read the large font: I don’t think Louis Oosthuizen or Henrik Stenson is going to win this week!

So, why are they listed here? Because I believe their expected probability ranks somewhere ahead of their prices. This is, of course, an inexact science, but if this week’s Open Championship was to be played 100 times, I believe Oosthuizen and Stenson could (though admittedly maybe not “would”) each win at least once, so I’m essentially paying for that 1-in-100 performance.

They’ve each won the Claret Jug previously — in 2010 and 2016, respectively – but they also have multiple other top-three results in this tournament. Unless you’re making an each-way wager, there’s only one potential winning outcome on outright tickets, so when I’m betting a longshot, I want it to be someone who at least owns a high ceiling.

The truth is, I don’t think this title is slipping from the hands of the upper echelon, which means I’ll limit my exposure to the so-called lottery tickets. If he qualified, Sergio Garcia might’ve been my underpriced LIV player in this spot, but instead I’ll take a couple of chances on a few other forty-somethings who have at least been there and done that.

Other OADers

Potential selections for one-and-done pools

Rory McIlroy (+700)

One of my bigger pet peeves in covering the game is the assertion that a certain player “needs” something – whether it’s a victory or a strong result – unless there’s a specific carrot dangling at the end of that stick, i.e. finishing in the top five to avoid losing PGA Tour playing privileges for the next season.

In the annals of golf, there haven’t been many 23-time PGA Tour winners and four-time major champions who “need” much – and this particular one will never be devoid of financial security or playing opportunities. As such, it’s difficult to insist that he needed that Scottish Open victory, so let’s instead agree that he just really, really wanted it.

In his previous five starts, Rory McIlroy had finished 7th-2nd-9th-7th-7th, but those results hardly tell the entire story, as he’d been in serious Sunday contention at most of them, only to falter in the final round.

He now heads to Royal Liverpool, the site of his lone Open Championship victory in 2014, brimming with confidence and momentum. For those wondering whether he peaked too early, here’s a stat: According to an unbylined story at Golf Compendium, only 11 players since 1934 have won their final PGA Tour start prior to a major, then also won that major – and just seven have done it in back-to-back weeks.

That doesn’t include Phil Mickelson, who claimed the Scottish Open before it was a PGA Tour co-sanctioned event one week prior to winning at Muirfield a decade ago, but it does include McIlroy, the last player to accomplish this feat when he won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational a few weeks after winning at Hoylake, then parlayed it into a victory at the PGA Championship.

In fact, the entire list reads like a who’s who of superstars – Henry Picard, Ralph Guldahl, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Art Wall, Lee Trevino, Sandy Lyle, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy – which should remind us that only the best of the best can make this happen, though Rory is certainly qualified, as he’s proven previously.

Okay, now on to the task at hand, which is why he’s listed in this category and not a different one. Look, if you want to play him outright at +650, I won’t talk you out of it; while that number might not be mispriced, it’s simply too short for me to play.

(That said, I believe waiting for him to post, say, an opening-round 1-over 72 that leaves him five strokes off the lead and +1150 as a live price might be the best way to go if you really want an outright ticket.)

If you think he holds more value as a top-of-the-lineup DFS option, that’s also fair. For me, though, he makes the most sense – if we have to pigeon-hole him into one specific category – as an OAD play. I can understand still having McIlroy as an OAD option this late in the season, and I can understand an original plan to save him for the FedEx Cup playoffs, perhaps hoping he’ll go back-to-back at the Tour Championship.

I have a tough time, though, understanding how you don’t pivot from that strategy after watching last week’s triumph. He might not win, but it’s hard to imagine Rory won’t be in the mix come Sunday afternoon. For those who are front-running in pools, especially, the Occam’s razor play should allow you to at least go full Heisman and stiff-arm the competition below.

Cameron Smith (+1800)

You shouldn’t need this reminder, but if your OAD prohibits using a defending champion, then just skip ahead from this section. If not, Cameron Smith could be the chalk selection.

It’s certainly viable that he might’ve been employed by some OADers in any of the year’s first three majors – I loved him at the U.S. Open, where he finished in solo fourth place, and I still maintain he would’ve won a 90-hole event that week – but there are only four potential places to play Smith, and this is the one where he’s enjoyed his single greatest success.

It should be noted that his Open Championship resume read MC-78th-20th-33rd in four starts prior to last year, though it should be similarly post-scripted that he’s become a different player since then, as well, combining a chip-on-the-shoulder mean streak with the world’s best short game to win five times in 2022 alone.

He’s fresh off winning on the LIV Golf circuit two weeks ago, and while I wrote above that recent form hasn’t dictated major results for players from that league, it certainly couldn’t hurt, either. If you can find a reason to dislike Smith this week, then you’re probably trying too hard.

Since 1960, only Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson, Tiger Woods and Padraig Harrington have gone back-to-back at The Open, though I’ll admit that “only” is a misplaced modifier in that sentence, as five repeat champions during that span is more than at any of the other three majors. It doesn’t take much to envision the Aussie adding his name to that list.

Rickie Fowler (+2200)

Collectively, we too often buy into player narratives based solely on background. It’s that thinking which leads us to the conclusion that American players are better on parkland courses which play 7,500+ yards, while European players are better on links tracks in the rain and wind.

As if to contradict that narrative, last week Shane Lowry joined my SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio show “Hitting the Green” and admitted that he’s grown soft since moving to Florida and hates playing in the rain. That hasn’t precluded him from enjoying a few of his greatest moments in the heavy stuff, but it does help us understand that not everything is so cut and, uh, dry.

Enter Rickie Fowler. Upon first glance, the California kid (I’ve known him since he was about 19, so I can still call him a kid at 34) might only have an edge on West Coast courses replete with poa annua greens. That’s rarely been the case, though.

Instead, Fowler has thrived on venues which require creativity more than a paint-by-numbers approach, which is why I’ve always believed The Open would provide a bit better opportunity for his elusive first major victory than any of the other three majors.

In 11 career starts, he owns three finishes of sixth or better and just one missed cut.

This is a high-floor play which could receive low ownership due to a perceived lower ceiling than some other top players. For a guy who’s tied for sixth on many odds boards, though, this is hardly the contrarian pick some might think it is.

Tommy Fleetwood (+2500)

The truth is, I could’ve easily listed Tommy Fleetwood in a few different categories for this preview. It feels like 25/1 is still a bit too short for a player who comes close so often without winning, but I don’t hate it.

Top-10 props (+230) are very juicy, considering he’s cashed these in four of his last seven starts and has gone 4th-4th-6th in the Scottish Open and The Open over the past 53 weeks. I don’t mind a top-five play, either, though there are a lot of mouths to feed at the top of the food chain. And as I’ll mention later in this piece, he makes for an intriguing first-round leader selection, having been known to get out to some fast starts over the years.

With that in mind, I landed on OAD just by process of elimination. As mentioned above, I happen to believe this will be one of the chalkier leaderboards we’ve seen in a while, but if you’re of the opposite mind, this could be a spot to get some leverage on your fellow poolsters who pick bigger names such as Rory McIlroy or Scottie Scheffler instead.

Nicolai Hojgaard (+15000)

Here’s a tip that shouldn’t be considered “cheating” as much as “working the system.” If your OAD still requires you submit picks via text/email instead of clicking a name on an app, then simply write “Hojgaard,” and you’ll get Nicolai, who finished T6 last week, and can later argue that you meant his brother Rasmus, who won the previous week.

Ah yes, my second straight week of turning the Hojgaard twins into some lame Mary Kate and Ashley joke.

Beyond that lameness, either of the Hojgaards make for a very intriguing play this week – perhaps the toughest part is choosing between them, if you do indeed have to submit just one name.

For OADs, this is of course a catch-up type of selection. If you’re way behind and hoping for the big-name picks to all crash and burn, it’s not a bad strategy to go way off the board with a low-owned play and hope for the best.

Placement Market Bets

Top Five

One player to finish in the top five

Jon Rahm (+280 for top-five finish)

As the world celebrates Rory McIlroy’s return to the winner’s circle and marvels at Scottie Scheffler’s statistical dominance, there’s been one question asked of the remaining member of the game’s current proverbial Big Three: Where is Jon Rahm?

Last month, I spoke with Rahm directly after his final-round 65 which left him in a share of 10th place at the U.S. Open, and he sounded like any of us who can’t wait to be done with work and enjoy an extended summer vacation.

If you heard that interview on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, it should’ve come as little surprise that the vacation started two days early, as he missed the cut at the following week’s Travelers Championship and hasn’t played since. That wasn’t the only unsubtle hint he dropped during our conversation, though.

When I asked about the Open Championship, Rahm’s eyes lit up – tough to see on the radio, I realize – and he spoke about what this tournament means to him. There’s been plenty of scuttlebutt about Rahm going deep down the rabbit hole, watching YouTube videos of players who have enjoyed links success and highlights from the last time this event was held at Royal Liverpool.

The idea that he has this one circled on his calendar isn’t a new one, either. Directly after prevailing at the Masters this year, he was asked whether that was the major he’d always dreamed of winning. Deferential yet honest, Rahm explained that because of countryman Seve Ballesteros’ success at Augusta National, that one meant so much to him, but really, it was always The Open which has held a special place in his heart.

Perhaps that desire helps explain a record which includes just a single top-10 result – he was T3 back in 2021 – in six career starts at this event. If there’s a time to jump on him, though, it might be now, when he isn’t trending and when his fellow top-three players are priced much shorter.

At least one book on Monday morning priced both McIlroy and Scheffler at +700 to win outright, while Rahm was +1200; those two were +165 and +170, respectively, for top-five finishes, while Rahm was +280. That feels like a bargain on a player who might still be the world’s best, depending on how we define such a description.

Top 10

One player to finish in the top 10

Tyrrell Hatton (+240 for top-10 finish)

When writing about golf betting every week, it can feel like regurgitating much of the same information on a regular basis. Case in point: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written in recent months about Tyrrell Hatton’s impressive play and how he’s been better than most people realize, never having that true spike week of a victory.

He ranks third on the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Total and has top 10s in eight of 17 worldwide starts this year. Part of the reason he hasn’t quite gotten the recognition is that some of his poorest performances have occurred at the biggest events, as he finished T34 at the Masters, T15 at the PGA Championship and T27 at the U.S. Open.

Not that those are anything to be embarrassed about, they just pale in comparison to many of his other results. At this one, he owns two top-10 finishes in the past six years and one other near-miss at T11. Combine a knack for faring well on links courses with the most proficient streak of his career, and it stands to reason that a price close to 5/2 should result in an end-of-week ticket cash on this one.

Top 20

One player to finish in the top 20

Adam Scott (+290 for top-20 finish)

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on Adam Scott. (I’ll take no blame.)

As I wrote in my run-up to the Scottish Open: “Many of the names you’ll see in this week’s preview will likely be prominently displayed in next week’s preview, as well.”

The name most prominently displayed last week, my favorite outright play in Scott, happened to miss the cut, though it should be noted that he did bounce back from an opening 72 to shoot 67 the following day.

It goes against everything I believe in to fade a guy I liked for a fortnight just because he played one mediocre round in the first of those weeks, so true to what I wrote seven days ago, I’ll once again list Scott, even if it’s less prominently than last week.

The truth is, we should be celebrating that MC from a betting perspective, as his price has dropped 30 points – from right around 50/1 at the beginning of last week to 80/1 this week — and provides even bigger value now.

I’ll back him for another outright play since I believe the ceiling is still there, but I think this is likewise a nice number for a top-20 finish, which he’s cashed in six of the last 10 Open Championships.

Top 30

One player to finish in the top 30

Padraig Harrington (+190 for top-30 finish)

If you’re surprised to see a 51-year-old amongst my selections, then boy, lemme tell you about this time a 59-year-old named Tom Watson nearly won this thing.

Okay, maybe Padraig Harrington is no Watson, his two Claret Jugs paling in comparison to Watson’s five, but the message remains the same: Even in today’s game, when raw power and speed is so often an advantage over experience, links golf tends to level the playing field, returning an edge back to those with the guile to compete against bigger, stronger players.

Not that Harrington needs much of an edge.

Steve Stricker is clearly the class of the senior circuit right now, but Padraig isn’t too far behind, with a win and six top-10 finishes in eight starts on PGA Tour Champions this year. And he’s fared well against the flatbellies, too, making the cut in each of his last seven starts, including the last two major championships.

Harrington makes for a really sneaky DFS selection this week, and I don’t mind playing him all the way up to a top-10 prop (+900), though the top-30 market feels like his wheelhouse.

Top 40

One player to finish in the top 40

Matthew Jordan (+180 for top-40 finish)

This one has all the makings of going Rory-at-Royal Portrush awry, but I can’t help taking this walk down Narrative Street. Matthew Jordan has been a member at Royal Liverpool since he was seven years old and just a few weeks ago stormed through a qualifier to cement his return.

On Monday, the R&A only enhanced the narrative, announcing that he’d be hitting the opening tee shot on Thursday morning this week.

Remember: McIlroy’s opening tee shot in his native Northern Ireland four years ago sailed OB, so backing the home-game storyline isn’t anything close to fool-proof.

All of that said, the 27-year-old has been trending nicely, with finishes of 22nd or better in three of his last five starts. He’s only competed in one previous major, a missed cut at last year’s Open Championship, and he’s ranked a mere 329th in the Official World Golf Ranking, so let’s not go too overboard on the narrative.

On a course, though, where knowing the places to miss will be just as important as knowing the places to hit it, Jordan should have plenty of experienced-based knowledge to post some solid scores.

DFS Free Bingo Square

A safe plug-and-play option for DFS lineups

Scottie Scheffler (DraftKings $12,500 | FanDuel $12,100)

I don’t say this in jest or mean it with some sardonic undertone: Perhaps the only thing keeping Scottie Scheffler from global superstardom outside of golf’s little corner of the world is his name.

Think about it. Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy… those are names that even your five-year-old roots for because they just sound like superheroes.

Scottie Scheffler? That sounds like a guy who does your taxes.

Not that he cares, but Scottie wouldn’t change a thing about his life or his career right now, save for a few more important wins. Beyond us golf nerds, though, I don’t think the casual fan understands just how dominant he’s been from tee-to-green this year. I really liked this tweet from Rick Gehman, which offers some visual perspective:

There are 23 golfers who have gained 50+ strokes from tee-to-green in 2023.

Scottie Scheffler is the only one who has gained 100+ and he's actually gained 186.05.

Also, for fun — their putting numbers on the other axis. pic.twitter.com/1H09c0DQvZ

— Rick Gehman (@RickRunGood) July 16, 2023

This feels like one of those graphics that NASA puts together to teach us all just how small and insignificant Earth is in comparison to the rest of the galaxy. And if it’s perspective you’ve come here seeking, check out this graphic from our social team at Action Network, which shows how profitable a series of conservative top-10 bets on Scheffler has been:

19 stroke play events.
15 top 10s.

Scottie Scheffler has been printing money for his top 10 bettors this season 🤑 pic.twitter.com/Y4CyDzUBAw

— Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) July 16, 2023

Even that one doesn’t quite do him justice, as he finished T11 at both the American Express and RBC Heritage, and T12 at the Genesis Invitational. Tough beat if you had him for a top-10 bet either of those weeks.

On Sunday afternoon, John Middlekauff, host of the Go Low pod at The Volume, on which I’m a weekly guest, texted me to talk a little Scheffler, saying he did the math and found that he’s been beaten by only nine players in his last four starts and suggested that it might be something close to 50 in 16 starts this year.

That sounded like a challenge, so I unsheathed the ol’ abacus. What I found is that while my guy John might’ve given him just a little too much credit, the fact that Scheffler has lost to just 71 players in those 16 events – an average of 4.44 per event – is still pretty remarkable.

Even more amazing is that Scheffler has beaten 1,935 players so far this year. Even with some limited fields mixed in, that’s an average of more than 120 per week.

And it’s gotten even better lately: In his last four starts, Scheffler has beaten 571 others (about 142 per event) and as John mentioned, lost to just nine (2.25). Long story short, yeah, he should make for a decent top-of-the-lineup Bingo square this week.

DFS Mid-Tier

A medium-priced option for DFS lineups

Ryan Fox (DraftKings $7,400 | FanDuel $9,100)

Here’s what I wrote about Ryan Fox last week while picking him for a top 20: “He’s been mostly plying his craft on the PGA Tour this season, where he’s earned membership through a steady diet of consistent results, but the Kiwi should be licking his chops for these next two weeks, knowing how well this style of golf suits his game.”

One week later, there’s no reason to deviate from this thought process. In 14 global starts prior to the Scottish Open, he owned 10 top-30 results. The idea was that he’d enjoy a little boost competing on a links course, upping his baseline value, and that’s exactly what happened, as he finished in a share of 12th place, his best result anywhere since a T11 at the Ras Al Khaimah Championship back in February.

I like him for a similar placement this week, which makes him extremely valuable for DFS while certainly playable as a top-20 option once again.

DFS ‘Dog

A lower-priced option for DFS lineups

Robert MacIntyre (DraftKings $6,800 | FanDuel $8,900)

Ohh, what could have been. In last week’s Scottish Open preview, Robert MacIntyre was listed as my favorite longshot play at 90/1. As you already know, he was clubhouse leader when he finished up a final-round six-under 64, best in the field. He was still leading when the final group had two holes to play and tied for the lead when that group was on the 18th.

Spoiler alert: He didn’t cash those tickets. That one was a heartbreaker – perhaps as much for Bobby Mac backers as Bobby Mac himself. Due to the early Open Championship pricing on DFS, MacIntyre’s runner-up result isn’t baked into his number.

The good news: That means you’re getting a nice discount on him.

The bad news: That means everyone else is getting a nice discount on him, too. Based on a strong links record in general and a breakthrough performance last week more specifically, expect the Scotsman to be an extremely popular lineup filler for this one.

That makes him more of a cash-game target than tournament contests, but even in the latter this might be an eat-the-chalk scenario.

First-Round Leader

One player to post the low round Thursday

Jordan Spieth (+4000 for FRL)

I listed Jordan Spieth for FRL before last week’s Scottish Open, and while that one didn’t come close to cashing, the theory behind it wasn’t wrong. For a single-round wager against the world’s best, I want a high-variance, high-volatility player who can go seriously low.

Spieth fits the profile – and especially on a links course. In his last five Open Championship starts, he’s posted a mind-numbing 17 sub-par rounds in 20 attempts, and 15 of those have been sub-70. Even with final-round scores of 76 in 2018 and 77 in 2019, he owns a scoring average of 68.7 over the past half-decade, a number which shrinks (nominally) to 68.6 in Thursday rounds.

And if he goes low this time, especially if he cashes this ticket, watch out. In two of Spieth’s three major victories, he’s held or shared the first-round lead (and in the third, he was T7, just three strokes back). That includes the 2017 edition of The Open, as well.

All of which tells us that Spieth loves playing as a front-runner, which should only heighten his desire to step on the gas pedal early and climb this leaderboard. That’s enough for me to back him for this bet in a second straight week.

Tyrrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood and Shane Lowry all make some sense here, if you want to expand the FRL card without looking too deep down the board, but Spieth makes as much sense as anyone.

Pick: Jordan Spieth First-Round Leader +4000

Matchup Man

One player who should beat comparable players

Justin Rose (+5000)

One of the advantages to betting a major championship is early pricing, which at least can help you think along the lines of where you’d like to put your money, even if you’re not actually betting until the week of the tournament.

The range of +4500 to +6000 is often one where we find some outright value, but having stared at this board for a while now, I can really only find one name that I trust – and that’s Justin Rose, who’s gained strokes with his irons in 13 of his last 14 starts.

That means he’s ripe for playing in some head-to-head matchups against similarly priced players. I’ll skip past Tom Kim, Max Homa, Min Woo Lee and Robert MacIntyre, each of whom I like to some degree, and instead focus on those I’ll fade.

Cameron Young hadn’t finished inside the top 30 in seven straight starts prior to a T6 at the John Deere Classic, then he elected to pass on the Scottish Open; so did Tony Finau, who doesn’t have a top 20 in six starts since his Mexico Open victory;

Sam Burns and Wyndham Clark are wildly talented players who each played well last week, but I still have a hard time completely trusting those without a ton of links golf experience; and Justin Thomas and Bryson DeChambeau each have multiple issues going against them this week, from recent form in this event to recent form in general.

As we often advise, matchup bets are as much about liking the player you’re betting as disliking the player you’re betting against. Rose has two top 10s and four top 25s in the last six editions of this event, which is enough reason to like him. If you can find him against those you’d like to fade, it becomes a win-win situation.

Also Receiving Votes

Other players who should provide value

Brooks Koepka (+1800), Xander Schauffele (+2500), Matt Fitzpatrick (+4500), Justin Thomas (+8000), Brian Harman (+10000), Sahith Theegala (+15000), Gary Woodland (+20000), Alexander Bjork (+25000), Jordan Smith (+30000), Matt Wallace (+40000), Danny Willett (+60000), Dan Bradbury (+100000)

Barracuda Championship Picks

For a second straight week, the PGA Tour/DP World Tour event in the U.K. is complemented by an alternate-field co-sanctioned event here in the U.S., as the Barracuda will take place at the Tahoe Mountain Club. Once again using the Modified Stableford Scoring system, I’m looking for players who can make birdies – and eagles – in bunches.

I was expecting a much shorter number on Keith Mitchell (+1800), who’s the highest-ranked player in this week’s field. He’s not in jeopardy of losing his card or anything like that, so you know he’s heading here with one goal in mind – to win. Considering I’m already pot-committed on a guy I’ve talked up as much as anyone, I like that goal.

Justin Suh (+3500) is a bigger talent than most observers probably realize. He owns two top-10s this year but none since March. That’ll change with a title contention this week. He’s got the stuff to win here.

I spoke with Rico Hoey (+4500) on my radio show about a month ago, and the kid just sounds like a superstar. He’s already won on the Korn Ferry Tour and has his PGA Tour card essentially locked up for next season, so he’ll be playing with free money at this one.

Last week, I was on Grayson Murray (+6000) at the Barbasol Championship, and despite a third-round 63, it was all just too little, too late. That said, he’s got an immense amount of talent and is a guy I’ll keep playing at opposite events and against inferior fields until he wins another one.

He’s not playing his best golf this year – which surprises me because I thought this would be a bounce-back campaign for him – but Erik Van Rooyen (+13000) has won here before and can do it again.

Throughout his career, Wesley Bryan (+30000) has shown a propensity to pop when we least expect it. Last week’s T24 might’ve offered a slight glimpse, though, and he’s worth a small bite at this big price.

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