GOLF

PGA Betting Guide for The Open Championship

Picking winners of a golf tournament is hard. Doing it consistently is downright impossible. But finding value is something all bettors must practice in order to give themselves the best chance to make hay when the day finally comes that they ping a champion.

Below, we will cover the best bets for The Open Championship based on current form, course fit, and -- of course -- the value of their odds over at FanDuel Sportsbook.

We are in for an exciting week, as the best golfers in the world will play in the oldest tournament in history. The 149th Open Championship took an extra year to get here thanks to last year's cancellation, but finally, we are finally ready to tackle Royal St. George's. Our champion the last time the event was played here was Darren Clarke, who was 42 years old and had gone a decade without a top 10 in any major championship before he hoisted the Claret Jug.

We can't take much from Clarke's victory to guide us here -- but notably, he finished three strokes ahead of Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, who at the time were the sixth and seventh-ranked golfers in the world, respectively. The conditions at The Open will always open it up to added variance as opposed to the grind of a Masters or U.S. Open, so we can expect the unexpected this week and make a case for a wide range of options in the field.

We'll do just that below, and given the possibilities this week we'll match the event and stray from our standard through-line. No unifying principle this week, just our gut, brain, or heart.

For more info on the Royal St. George's along with this week's key stats and comparable courses, check out the course primer.

At the Top

Jordan Spieth (+1800) - We'll start with a pick that checks all three of the gut, brain, and heart boxes. Spieth has been on the rise and for a golfer with his history and the expectations he puts on himself, a win at the Valero Texas Open is quite simply not it. It's majors for Spieth, and aside from the annual trip to Augusta National his best bet every year is likely to be The Open, where the elements mitigate his lack of truly elite distance and something magical around and on the greens is often called for. As Brandon Gdula noted in the course primer, Spieth has the best strokes gained average at The Open since 2015. In that stretch, he's finished no worse than 30th and was inside the top 10 three times, including of course his 2017 victory.

Spieth has just two finishes outside the top 20 since January, and he has made every cut in that span. That 2017 Open was his last win until Texas in April, and another Claret Jug would be the exclamation point on his comeback.

Dustin Johnson (+2200) - Johnson's record at The Open since his runner-up to Clarke is uninspiring, with just two top 10s and the last in 2016. That second place at Royal St. George's is a decade in the rearview, but Johnson has more or less remained consistently among the very best in the world since then. He dipped out of the top 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking from 2012 - 2014, but since the end of 2015 he's been inside that mark and picked up multiple victories in every single calendar year. He has just one to his name so far in 2021 which came in Saudi Arabia, and a season without a significant PGA Tour victory just doesn't seem possible.

Value Spots

Lee Westwood (+4000) - Westwood's number has shortened quite a bit since the lines over the past few months thanks to runner-up finishes at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and THE PLAYERS, but we still like him at this number compared to the other options. Perhaps best known for the tournaments he hasn't won, Westwood was a staple at the top of major championship leaderboards in the back half of the 2000s and the early part of the 2010s. He even ascended to the World No. 1 ranking for a couple of brief spells in 2010 and 2011.

He was No. 2 when The 140th Open Championship went off at Royal St. George's, but Westwood missed the cut on the number in the midst of one of his most dominant stretches. The Open teed off on July 14, 2011; from mid-February 2011 through early May 2012, Westwood won 5 times and posted no other finishes worse than 30th. So he arrives this week in terrific form and with revenge on his mind. Combined with recent nuptials, Westwood looks like a great bet to follow in Clarke's footsteps and win one as the "old guy."

Long Shots

Marc Leishman (+6000) and Adam Scott (+7500) - Is it the year of the Aussie? Leishman and Cameron Smith, (+6500) won the team event in Louisiana. A pair of Australians picked up their first career PGA Tour wins this season in Matt Jones (+25000) and Cameron Davis, and two more have lifted silverware the past two weeks on the European Tour. First Lucas Herbert (+8000) won the Irish Open, and Min Woo Lee (+10000) followed it up with a victory of his own at the Scottish Open. The case can be made for either Leishman or Scott, with the former overcoming the yips in 2020 to contend a few times this season, and the latter still one of the deadliest iron players in the world when focused.

Both were clearly uncomfortable with the COVID protocol introduction on the PGA Tour last year, as Leishman's game fell to pieces and Scott simply sat out until the majors rolled around. That they are both here even as droves withdraw amidst hefty protocols in place by the R&A means they like their chances, and either are safer plays than Jason Day (+7500) to put a cherry on top of the unofficial Year of the Aussie.

Padraig Harrington (+15000) - Down the market is not a great place to find a winner at any major, but it's where we can find Team Europe's captain for the upcoming Ryder Cup, recently off a T4 finish at the PGA Championship. If Westwood can't win one for the old guys, there's plenty of hope in the 50-year-old Harrington, who briefly sniffed the top 10 last week in Scotland before settling for a T18 finish.

Like Westwood, he missed the cut at Royal St. George's in 2011, but this may be his last best shot at another major championship. If the last edition here is any indicator, double digits under par will be necessary to contend. The same can't be said for the next three years, which will be held at St. Andrews, Royal Liverpool, and Royal Troon, all of which saw winning scores at or below 15-under par the last time they hosted.

Harrington has always been built for tough conditions and higher scores, and he proved that he can still contend in difficult environments at Kiawah Island.