Open Championship Round 2 Picks: Bet Rory McIlroy, Viktor Hovland and Rickie Fowler
Pictured: Rory McIlroy. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
The opening round of the 151st Open Championship is in the books. Royal Liverpool Golf Club showed out as a fast, firm, world-class venue — well, except for the internal O.B., which still rubs me the wrong way. I’m guessing a few of the players who fell victim to it aren't big fans either.
Tommy Fleetwood, Emiliano Grillo and amateur Christo Lamprecht share the lead after each posted a 5-under 66. However, it's worth noting that we could see a much different golf course over the next three days as rain is expected throughout the weekend.
As we look to make some live outright plays, I’ll stick with my usual strategy after just one round: If you liked a player 24 hours ago and he’s still within shouting distance, you should probably still like him for the final 54 holes.
I’ll be following that rule of thumb with three quick options if you’re looking to add to your card before Friday’s festivities.
Rory McIlroy: +950 Outright
First-Round Score: Even (71)
Here’s part of what I wrote about McIlroy in my pre-tournament preview: “Look, if you want to play him outright at 13/2, 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.)”
Sorry, I was off by a little.
He shot 71, not 72, though he is five strokes off the lead, and his number only dipped to 19/2. That’s still a bit too short for me add him, but if you really liked McIlroy and wanted to bet him before the opening round started, this is a nice opportunity to get him at a small discount.
Last week’s Scottish Open winner didn’t have his best stuff Thursday and lost strokes both on and around the greens, but his ball-striking was as solid as usual.
Viktor Hovland: +2000 Outright
First-Round Score: -1 (70)
Hovland was my pre-tourney pick to win and perhaps the most notable thing to happen to him Thursday came when he was standing over his second shot on the 15th hole and a seagull took dead aim for his sleeve.
(People often crap all over my picks, but usually not literally.)
“I just got shat on.” 😂😂
— ActionGolfHQ (@ActionGolfHQ) July 20, 2023
Regardless, I love his position moving forward. Hovland didn’t make a single putt longer than about eight feet and made par on each of the par-5 holes. Translation: He left a few strokes out there.
He’s now just four strokes off the lead, yet at about the same odds as when he started the week.
If you didn’t play Hovland earlier — or if you want to add more to the portfolio — you’ve essentially been given a free sneak preview of his game.
Rickie Fowler: +6000 Outright
First-Round Score: +1 (72)
If there’s one guy who hates that internal O.B. more than me, it’s probably Fowler, who twice hit his 18th-hole approach on the wrong side of the white line.
He’d been cruising along at 2-under, but the triple-bogey moved him to 1-over.
Maybe that will serve as a blessing in disguise.
Remember: Just one month ago, Fowler held or shared the lead after each of the first three rounds of the U.S. Open, only to falter on Sunday when it looked like he might claim his first career major title.
It’s long been suggested that when he finally wins a major, it might happen when he’s trying to chase after the leaders, rather than playing the role of front-runner.
At about triple the price he was at to start the week, it might be worth paying to find out if Fowler can bounce back.