146th Open Championship Preview

The British Open (The Open or The Open Championship)
20-23 July 2017
Royal Birkdale, Southport, England

Weather Forecast (as at Monday)

Rain: expected on Fri, Sat & Sun;
Temp: 62-66;
Wind: 5-8 mph every day.

Not hellish conditions, and not accurately predictable either!, but looking like the basis of a solid links test on one of the toughest such courses in the UK.

ExecSummary (for the lazy & the non-readers = most of GenY & Millenials!)

Sergio will win.


I’ve had insufficient time to write a full preview, so instead I’ve set-out below something I do for every Major; an eliminator.

The goal with this type of exercise is to reduce the focus step-by-step to a handful of players, thus simplifying the process of determining on whom to bet.

Eliminator #1 - The Hopeless

All Majors automatically contain players who, owing to various traditions, gain a place in the field. However, typically none can win, so in this first step I’ve eliminated all players I rated 300.00 or longer.

See here. That removed a handy 74 players, leaving 82.

Eliminator #2 - The Debutants

Experience counts; nowhere more so than in this tournament where the average age of winners is far higher than other Majors and where past Open experience is a valuable and proven asset.

From those remaining we therefore now delete the Open debutants, such as DeChambeau. This reduces the field of possibles to 77.

Eliminator #3 - The Out-of-Form

This is a contentious step as it discards the likes of Dustin Johnson & Rory McIlroy but players rarely rediscover their best form in a testing links Major.

I’ve thus eliminated all players who have missed the cut in their past two starts, along with any who have not placed higher than 25th in their past four outings.

Out go: DJ, Rory, Day, Thomas, Dufner, Knox, Wood & Hatton (on the 2xMC basis), closely followed by out-of-form: Fitzpatrick, Kaymer, Grillo, An, Bubba, Levy & Els. We’re down to 63.

Eliminator #4 - The Open Non-Performers

At this point we rid ourselves of those pretenders who have made it here before but never achieved anything noteworthy. This is defined as: no Top20’s in the past 12 years.

Out go some highly favoured players like: Rahm, Fleetwood & Pieters, We’re down to 38; serious progress!

Eliminator #5 - The too Young & The too Old

As mentioned above, the average age of Open winners is high. The past 10 Opens have produced winners in the age range of 25-43; average 36.5 yrs. So, we now eliminate those younger than 25 and those older than 43.

Out go 5 terrific players, incl 4 decorated vets: Spieth, Mickelson, Harrington, Westwood & Stricker. We’re down to 33.

Eliminator #6 - The Inexperienced

There have been very few first-time winners of The Open & many great players took a multiple attempts before they mastered it.

Nine of the past 10 winners had a prior Open Top6: see Steve Rawlings’ superb and comprehensive preview; so we eliminate those without an Open Top6 on their cv’s.

So, out go: Koepka, Noren, Grace, Reed, Sullivan, Schwartzel, Olesen, Kuchar, Henley, Finau, Molinari, Kjeldsen, Haas, Beef, Simpson, Woodland, Southgate & Streb.

We’re down to 15 so now we can get serious!

The Contenders

Here are the remaining 15 players, in order of how I priced their winning chances:

Sergio Garcia
Rickie Fowler
Justin Rose
Hideki Matsuyama
Henrik Stenson
Adam Scott
Paul Casey
Marc Leishman
Louis Oosthuizen
Brandt Snedeker
Shane Lowry
Ian Poulter
Zach Johnson
JB Holmes
Hideto Tanihara

From these I’ve derived my following tips:

Tip #1 - Winner

Sergio Garcia
Rickie Fowler

Tip #2 - Top5

Justin Rose
Hideki Matsuyama

Tip #3 - Top10

Henrik Stenson
Adam Scott

Tip #4 - Top20

Paul Casey
Marc Leishman

Tip #5 - Top South African

Louis Oosthuizen

Tip #6 - Top USA

Rickie Fowler
Brandt Snedeker


Sergio Garcia should win; Rickie Fowler the closest challenger;
Rose & Matsuyama can be expected to go well without quite making it;
Stenson & Scott should safely place Top10;
Casey & Leishman can be relied upon as Top20 bets;
Snedeker, for me, ranks a value-reeking 2nd in the Top USA market, behind Fowler;
Oosthuizen should easily be Top South African;
Best longshot - take your pick(s) among: Lowry,Poulter, Zach JB & Tanihara.

Cheers & Good Luck with your golf punting
Mike (@SmartGolfBets)
Monday 17 July

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