The Open Championship is being held at St. Andrews in Scotland for the first time since 2015, not a long gap for the storied course.
In that one, Zach Johnson took the trophy home, but I wouldn’t pay much attention to him this weekend. The course is unique for these pros and it can shift the odds to some unexpected winners.
The fairways are extremely wide and the greens are so big they double up to serve two different holes on the majority of the course (seven greens for 14 holes).
The bunkers are sneaky and difficult to get out of, tripping up what could look like great shots. Generally, it looks like the best short-distance players will be at the advantage.
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The early favorite for good reason is Rory McIlroy. The Irishman knows links courses better than anyone and shows it. But I worry about his early rounds recently and the value just isn’t there this weekend.
McIlroy could easily take it home, but he’s not going to be a great betting pick.
To me, the player with the best odds of finishing top 10 is Scottie Scheffler. The world No. 1 by a wide margin is a ridiculously consistent finisher.
To give context to how difficult it is to stay consistent in golf; other than Tiger Woods, no player has ever won multiple major championships while ranked as the world No. 1. For the sake of acknowledging how ridiculous Tiger is, I will mention that he has done it 11 times.
But Scheffler added himself to the list of only six golfers to accomplish it even once when he won the 2022 Masters. He’s proven himself on links with an eighth-place finish at last year’s British Open and he’s taken huge strides since then.
The young star should be firmly in the mix on Sunday.
Those tricky shots that he has to pull off to get out of trouble will be mandatory here, so his experience will serve him well. He has a strong Open record, winning in 2017, runner-up last year and fourth place in 2015 at St. Andrews.
The strength of his short game and putting will shine and he’ll have a good chance to finish well.
Cam Smith is my favorite value pick this weekend and there’s a chance he turns things around well. He struggled at the U.S. Open but prior to that, he was in great form.
Similar to Spieth, Smith responds very well to difficult conditions. But we should know quickly if he’s going to be in it or not. That’s why I like the top-five finish here. If he’s competitive this weekend, he should be very competitive. If the wind starts to pick up, I like this bet even more.