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The Open Championship Golf Betting Preview
Golf’s fourth and final major has arrived. The 150th Open Championship is set to tee off on Thursday, and there’s no better home for it than the place the sport began.
The Old Course at St Andrews is arguably the most historic course in golf history. Yet while eyes will be fixated on the course and its breathtaking surroundings, the world’s top players will compete for the title of Open Champion.
This betting preview will dive into the basics of St Andrews, the key stats every bettor must know, and a few players who fit the bill of a potential champion.
The Old Course at St Andrews
There’s a reason that 29 Open Championships have taken place at St Andrews dating all the way to 1873. Known worldwide as the “home of golf,” the Links at St Andrews opened to the public in 1552. Once the New Course at St Andrews opened in 1895, what was once called the “golfing grounds” became the Old Course, which is its name to this day.
However, the Old Course isn’t such a historical landmark. It’s also an exceptionally challenging course that will decidedly test each golfer in various ways.
This 7,300-yard course offers two significant challenges on nearly every single hole. The first challenge is the unevenness of the course, with both the fairways and greens plagued by consistent undulation. The second challenge, and what the Old Course is most known for, is the 100+ pot bunkers scattered across the 18 holes.
Two of those bunkers — the Hell Bunker and Road Hole Bunker — send shivers down every player’s spine. The Hell Bunker, located on the 14th hole, extends approximately 30 square yards and is anywhere from 7-10 feet deep. While the Road Hole Bunker on 17 is essentially a small circle, its steepness makes it one of the game’s worst hazards to get caught in.
The Old Course also sits adjacent to the sea. More often than not, that means consistent wind throughout the entire tournament, making a tough course even more challenging.
Key Stats for Conquering St Andrews
Based on the last four Open Championships at the Old Course in Scotland, there are two significant stats to keep an eye on: driving accuracy and putting.
Accuracy off the tee at St Andrews isn’t exactly the same as accuracy off the tee on an American course when you consider the undulation of each fairway. But a good drive with distance means no approach shots from the fescue or a bunker, which then leads to a better chance of avoiding the numerous greenside bunkers.
Once a player reaches the green, it takes a special ability to finish the hole successfully. The greens are massive, so every player will need to putt from distance while accounting for the natural breaks each time.
The last three winners at an Open Championship at the Old Course are Tiger Woods (2000 and 2005), Louis Oosthuizen (2010), and Zach Johnson (2015). All three players finished inside the top ten in putting average and driving accuracy, with Tiger and Louis also top five in driving distance.
While the majority of Open Championships don’t place a major emphasis on performance off the tee, an elite short game is essential. The last ten Open winners finished just outside the top ten in putting average and inside the top 20 for both greens in regulation (GIR) and scrambling.
The Open Championship Names to Watch
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The betting favorite heading into the Open, McIlroy is putting everything together at the right time. The Irishman has finished inside the top ten in five of his last seven tournaments. He’s also been the best GIR player in the last three majors and led the U.S. Open field in SG: putting.
There is some trepidation on betting Rory when you consider his mediocre performance in his last two Open Championships (Cut in 2019 and T46 in 2021). But with a T3 performance at the Old Course in 2010 and his recent play, you’d make a hard case to bet against McIlroy.
If you’re a believer in momentum, Schauffele might be your guy this week. X has won back-to-back PGA Tour starts, beginning with the Travelers Championship before winning last weekend’s Scottish Open.
While Schauffele is just outside the top 30 in SG: putting this season, he’s a top-ten approach player and consistently strong off the tee. He also has a T2 from the Open Championship in 2018 and a solid track record in majors. This could finally be his time to break through.
Unlike Schauffele, Rahm finally broke his winless streak at majors in last year’s U.S. Open. But after T11 and T3 finishes in his last two Open Championships, the Spaniard could soon add a second trophy to his resume.
Rahm is the Tour’s top player in SG: off-the-tee and a top-ten player in overall strokes gained. While his putting leaves some to be desired, we’ve seen many instances of him getting hot on the greens. And when you consider that his Fri-Sun Open score equaled the champion Collin Morikawa’s, Rahm should be an option for any bettor.
Before betting on the Open Championship, remember a few critical rules. First, make sure the golfer you’re picking to win is strong off the tee and excellent on the greens. Second, look for players with a strong track record on Par 4s, as they represent 14 of the 18 holes on the Old Course.
Finally, it might be worth it to find an underdog who still meets the aforementioned stat qualifications. Five of the last six Open Champions entered play with odds of 25/1 or worse. That includes Morikawa, who was 40/1 going into last year’s tournament, and Johnson, who was a whopping 150/1 before winning at St Andrews in 2015.
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