Early on Thursday morning (or late evening Wednesday in the United States), the 2013 British Open will tee off at the Muirfield Golf Links in Gullane, Scotland. The third of the four majors this year, the British Open – or The Open Championship, as those in the United Kingdom like to call it – is always the “wild card” during the golf season. While some players you might think have come in as the prohibitive favorites, it always seems that there is a player who comes “from the pack” to end up hoisting the Claret Jug come Sunday.
Taking a look at the odds makers’ favorites for this year’s Open, it is a bit of a surprise who they have at the top of the heap. These are the Top Five choices for this year’s tournament and their odds on winning:
Tiger Woods (World Golf Rank: #1), 6.95/1
Graeme McDowell (#7), 20/1
Justin Rose (#3), 20/1
Rory McIlroy (#2), 20/1
Adam Scott (#4), 22/1
Lee Westwood (#12), 22/1
The odds makers putting Woods in as the prohibited favorite is quite strange in that, in his two prior majors this year (the Masters and the U. S. Open), Woods hasn’t even been within sniffing distance of the title. He would have been in contention at the Masters if not for the snafu on the 15th hole during the third round, but his final round 70 wouldn’t have caught eventual champion Scott.
At the U. S. Open, Woods battled through an elbow injury to end up with one of the worst finishes in his career in a major championship (tied for 32nd at +13) and hasn’t played a round of golf competitively since then. He says the elbow is “good to go” for the Open, but there are easier tests to step into than playing links golf in Scotland. Thus, his place at the top is highly circumspect.
McDowell, Rose and McIlroy might be good choices, but none are what you would call a lock. Coming off of winning the U. S. Open, Rose may be a bit complacent when it comes to the Open Championship. McDowell hasn’t been playing well of late (but he does seem to get up for the trip to the U. K.) and McIlroy has been atrocious (he was a stroke worse than Tiger at the U. S. Open). None of these choices are good ones for a bettor to look at.
Scott and Westwood might be able to make a run, but there are things that hold me back on picking them. Scott, after his Masters victory, has definitely fallen into a sense of complacency. Westwood may be the hungriest of the Top Six players by the odds, but he has a history of coming up short in the major championships.
So if we’re not picking these guys, who will be the eventual champion of the 142nd Open Championship? Here are three bets (and a couple of “dark horse” contenders) who might be at the top of the leaderboard come Sunday:
Luke Donald (#9) and Phil Mickelson (#5) (both 25/1)
Donald is the ninth ranked player in the world and always seems to bring his A-game to the treacherous links courses that make up the Open Championship. While it could be said that he falls into the Westwood category (close but not quite), Donald has challenged in the past for the Open Championship and this could be his year to take it down.
Mickelson might be an odd choice, but he has been playing well of late. He either led or was tied for the lead at the U. S. Open until the final day (eventually finishing second) and, last week, won the Scottish Open for his first victory on European soil since 1993. His ability to work the ball around the course is second-to-none and his creative style plays well in the difficult conditions.
Jason Day (#17, 30/1)
Day may be arguably the most complete player on the tour but he doesn’t have a major in his pocket yet for those accolades. He also has the two best finishes in the first two majors of 2013 (third at the Masters, tied for second at the U. S. Open). Another extremely creative player, Day could be the player that everyone will chase from the start of the tournament. Whether he can withstand the pressure of having a lead going to the final round might be the key factor in whether he can win the Open Championship or not.
Dark Horses: Ian Poulter (#20, 40/1) and Henrik Stenson (#30, 60/1)
Both of these men have been around the block enough to have been in some major title races, but they have yet to break through. What I like about both of their games is their consistency; neither seems to get too rankled by a bad shot or hole, moving on to the next one as if they are playing the local muni. Stenson, in particular, is my choice for a “dark horse” candidate, but don’t be surprised if Poulter is there also.
The defending champion of the British Open is Ernie Els, who enters in at 26/1, and the last Scottish champion of an Open event played in Scotland, Paul Lawrie, is at 85/1. If you really wanted to take a flier, these two men wouldn’t be bad choices alongside Padraig Harrington (50/1), Keegan Bradley (90/1) and Masters runner-up Angel Cabrera (115/1).
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