Best bets for the British Open

July 18, 2023 05:22 PM

The Open Championship

Rory McIlroy was the overnight leader after 54 holes last weekend at the Genesis Scottish Open. However, he needed a birdie-birdie finish to win at +850 to deny Scotsman Robert MacIntyre what would have been the biggest victory of his career. MacIntyre hit an errant tee shot on 18 but hit a fairway wood to four feet for a birdie to post 14 under. Keep in mind, winds were gusting up to 40 mph at the time. Meanwhile, McIlroy responded by stiffing a 2-iron approach to 10 feet and making the winning birdie putt.

David Lingmerth and Byeong Hun An finished T-3 along with Scottie Scheffler. Lingmerth, An and Nicolai Højgaard, who finished T-6, earned the last three spots into this week's British Open. Also finishing in the top 10 in a tie for sixth were Tyrrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood, Tom Kim and J.T. Poston.

McIlroy will try to match Phil Mickelson's feat in 2013 as the only player to win the Scottish Open and the British Open in consecutive weeks as he returns to Hoylake where he won his sole claret jug in 2014 at Royal Liverpool. Currently, he is as high as +800, the No. 2 choice.

World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler (+700) is the favorite and just posted his seventh consecutive top 5 or better event finish last weekend in Scotland.

Jon Rahm (13-1) has not played in four weeks since a rare missed cut (36 straight) at the Travelers Championship.

Brooks Koepka (18-1), the PGA Championship winner in May, began his professional career in Europe and has four top-10s in his last six Open Championship appearances.

Cameron Smith (20-1), who won the LIV Golf event in London two weeks ago, looks to become the first back-to-back Champion Golfer of the Year since Padraig Harrington did so in 2007 and 2008.

Viktor Hovland (22-1) has finished in the top 7 in three of his last four majors, including a T-4 in last year's Open at St. Andrews.

Royal Liverpool is not quite the home game that Royal Portrush was for Tommy Fleetwood (25-1), but it is in Merseyside County, where he grew up in nearby Southport.

Xander Schauffele (22-1) finished T-42 in the defense of his 2022 Scottish Open title last weekend while Ryder Cup partner Patrick Cantlay (20-1) missed the cut.

Rickie Fowler (25-1) was T-2 behind McIlroy here at Royal Liverpool in the 2014 Open and was in contention in a major championship for the first time in five years at last month's U.S. Open. Fowler also broke his four-year-plus winless drought three weeks ago at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit.

Tyrrell Hatton (25-1) held the lead going into the back nine at the Scottish Open on Sunday, but the mercurial Englishman made a couple of costly bogeys to take himself out of contention.

The Event

This year marks the 151st Open Championship (established in 1860) in its customary spot starting before the third Friday in July. The Open is sanctioned and governed by the R&A, which is a colloquial name from the Royal Ancient Club of St. Andrews. Although based at St. Andrews, the R&A is separate from the actual golf club.

The Open is always played on a coastal links course. Links golf is often described as the "purest" form of golf and keeps a connection with the way the game originated in Scotland in the 15th century. The Open trophy is the claret jug, which has been presented to the champion since 1873. The winner of the Open is announced as "The Champion Golfer of the Year," a title that has been used since the first Open in 1860.

Royal Liverpool has hosted the Open 12 times, most recently in 2014, when Rory McIlroy triumphed over Rickie Fowler. In 2006, Tiger Woods won an emotional victory in the wake of his father’s death. Rory and Tiger triumphed at 17 and 18 under, respectively, and Liverpool has historically played as one of the easier courses in the Open rotation.

In terms of official recognition, the tournament has been an event on the European Tour since its formation in 1972. The PGA Tour added it as its first official event outside of the United States and Canada in 1995.

The field consists of 156 players. The top 70 and ties will make the weekend cut. If there is a playoff, then a four-hole aggregate playoff is held; followed by sudden death if the lead is still tied.

The Field

The Open Championship field is made up of 156 players who gained entry through various exemption criteria and qualifying tournaments.

Each player is classified according to the first category in which he qualified, but other categories are shown in parentheses.

1. The Open champions age 60 or under on July 23, 2023

Stewart Cink, Darren Clarke (20), John Daly, Ernie Els (2), Pádraig Harrington, Zach Johnson (2), Shane Lowry (2,4,5,6), Rory McIlroy (2,3,4,5,12), Phil Mickelson (2,10), Francesco Molinari (2), Collin Morikawa (2,4,10,12), Louis Oosthuizen, Cameron Smith (2,3,4,11,12), Jordan Spieth (2,3,4,12), Henrik Stenson (2)

Ben Curtis, David Duval, Todd Hamilton, Paul Lawrie, Justin Leonard and Tiger Woods[6] (9) did not enter.

2. The Open champions for 2012-2022

3. Top 10 finishers and ties in the 2022 Open Championship

Patrick Cantlay (4,12), Bryson DeChambeau (8), Tommy Fleetwood (4,5), Brian Harman (4,12), Viktor Hovland (4,5,12), Dustin Johnson (9), Cameron Young (4,12)

4. Top 50 players in the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) for Week 21, 2023

Abraham Ancer, Keegan Bradley, Sam Burns (12), Wyndham Clark (8)[b], Corey Conners (12), Jason Day, Harris English[c], Tony Finau (12), Matt Fitzpatrick (5,8,12), Rickie Fowler, Ryan Fox (5), Emiliano Grillo, Tyrrell Hatton (5,6), Russell Henley, Lucas Herbert, Tom Hoge (12), Max Homa (12), Billy Horschel (6,12), Sungjae Im (12), Si Woo Kim, Tom Kim, Chris Kirk, Kurt Kitayama[d], Brooks Koepka (8,10), K.H. Lee (12), Hideki Matsuyama (9,12), Adrian Meronk (5), Taylor Moore, Joaquín Niemann (12), Séamus Power, Jon Rahm (5,8,9,12), Patrick Reed (9), Justin Rose, Xander Schauffele (12), Scottie Scheffler (9,11,12), Adam Scott (12), Sepp Straka (12), Sahith Theegala (12), Justin Thomas (10,11,12)

Will Zalatoris (5,12) did not enter.

5. Top 30 in the final 2022 DP World Tour Rankings

Adri Arnaus, Richard Bland, Ewen Ferguson, Rasmus Højgaard, Pablo Larrazábal, Thriston Lawrence, Hurly Long, Robert MacIntyre, Guido Migliozzi, Alex Norén, Thorbjørn Olesen, Adrián Otaegui, Yannik Paul, Victor Perez, Thomas Pieters, Richie Ramsay, Shubhankar Sharma, Callum Shinkwin, Jordan Smith, Connor Syme

6. Recent winners of the BMW PGA Championship (2019-2022)

Danny Willett

7. Top five players, not already exempt, within the top 20 of the 2023 Race to Dubai through the BMW International Open

Alexander Björk, Jorge Campillo, Romain Langasque, Joost Luiten, Marcel Siem

8. Recent winners of the U.S. Open (2018-2023)

Gary Woodland

9. Recent winners of the Masters (2018-2023)

10. Recent winners of the PGA Championship (2017-2023)

11. Recent winners of The Players Championship (2021-2023)

12. The top 30 players from the 2022 FedEx Cup points list

Talor Gooch, J.T. Poston, Scott Stallings

13. Top five players, not already exempt, within the top 20 of the 2022-23 FedEx Cup points list through the Travelers Championship

Nick Taylor

14. Winner of the 2022 Visa Open de Argentina

Zack Fischer

15. Winner of the 2022-23 PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit

David Micheluzzi

16. Winner of the 2022-23 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit

Ockie Strydom

17. Winner of the 2022 Japan Open Golf Championship

Taiga Semikawa

18. Top two players on the 2022 Japan Golf Tour Official Money List

Kazuki Higa, Rikuya Hoshino

19. The top player, not already exempt, on the 2023 Japan Golf Tour Official Money List through the BMW Japan Golf Tour Championship Mori Building Cup

Hiroshi Iwata

20. Winner of the 2022 Senior Open Championship

21. Winner of the 2023 Amateur Championship[d]

Christo Lamprecht (a)

22. Winner of the 2022 U.S. Amateur[d]

Sam Bennett[e]

23. Winner of the 2023 European Amateur[d]

José Luis Ballester (a)

24. Recipient of the 2022 Mark H. McCormack Medal[d]

Keita Nakajima[f]

25. Winner of the 2022 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship[d]

Harrison Crowe (a)

26. Winner of the 2023 Latin America Amateur Championship[d]

Mateo Fernández de Oliveira (a)

27. Winner of the 2023 Open Amateur Series[d][g]

Alex Maguire (a)

Open Qualifying Series

The Open Qualifying Series (OQS) for the 2023 British Open consists of 11 events. Places are available to the leading players (not otherwise exempt) who make the cut. In the event of ties, positions go to players ranked highest according to that week's OWGR. Unlike in previous years, if a player who has qualified through OQS becomes exempt through other criteria before June 1, 2023, the next-highest non-exempt finisher from that OQS event will become exempt.

South Africa: Joburg Open

Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Dan Bradbury, Sami Välimäki

Australia: ISPS Handa Australian Open

Haydn Barron, Alejandro Cañizares, Min Woo Lee

USA: Arnold Palmer Invitational

Ben Griffin, Trey Mullinax, Davis Riley

Hong Kong: World City Championship

Michael Hendry (h), Taichi Ko, Bi-o Kim, Travis Smyth

USA: Wells Fargo Championship

Michael Kim, Denny McCarthy, Brendon Todd

Japan: Gateway to the Open Mizuno Open

Kensei Hirata, Takumi Kanaya, Keita Nakajima, Kazuki Yasumori

USA: Memorial Tournament

Lee Hodges, Andrew Putnam, Adam Schenk

South Korea: Kolon Korea Open

Seung-su Han, Kyung-nam Kang

England: Betfred British Masters

Daniel Hillier, Gunner Wiebe, Oliver Wilson

Denmark: Made in Himmerland

Nacho Elvira, Kalle Samooja, Marc Warren

Scotland: Genesis Scottish Open

Byeong-Hun An, Nicolai Højgaard, David Lingmerth

Final Qualifying

Final qualifying was played on July 4 at four locations, with 117 players who advanced from regional qualifying events (held on June 26 at 15 locations) as well as those exempt from regional qualifying.

Dundonald Links

Connor McKinney (R), Marco Penge, Graeme Robertson (R), Michael Stewart

Royal Cinque Ports

Thomas Detry, Branden Grace, Martin Rohwer, Antoine Rozner, Charl Schwartzel

Royal Porthcawl

Laurie Canter, Oliver Farr, Jazz Janewattananond, Brandon Robinson-Thompson, Matthew Southgate

West Lancashire

Kyle Barker, Tiger Christensen (a), Alex Fitzpatrick, Matthew Jordan, Matt Wallace

(a) Denotes amateur

(b) Wyndham Clark initially qualified through the Wells Fargo Championship, but after he subsequently qualified through category 4, his Open Qualifying Series spot was reallocated to Brendon Todd.

(c) Harris English and Kurt Kitayama initially qualified through the Arnold Palmer Invitational, but after both subsequently qualified through category 4, their Open Qualifying Series spots were reallocated to Ben Griffin and Trey Mullinax.

(d) Players must remain amateurs in order to be exempt under this category.

(e) Bennett forfeited his exemption by turning professional.

(f) Nakajima forfeited his exemption by turning professional but subsequently qualified through the Open Qualifying Series.

(g) Cumulative World Amateur Golf Ranking points from the St. Andrews Links Trophy, The Amateur Championship and European Amateur.

(h) Hendry will not play after being diagnosed with leukemia in May 2023.

(R) indicates a golfer who came through Regional Qualifying.

Alternates for the event that will get the first call as replacements in the field (in order) include Cam Davis, Adam Hadwin, Matt Kuchar, Mito Pereira, and Keith Mitchell based on the current OWGR.

The Course

For the first time in nine years, the Open Championship returns to Royal Liverpool, a British links course built on an old horse racing track in the small town of Hoylake, which features a population of just 5,000. Liverpool was designed in 1871 by Robert Chambers and George Morris (the younger brother of four-time British Open champion Old Tom Morris), but Harry Colt completely remodeled the course in 1895. Liverpool was left largely untouched for more than 100 years until Martin Ebert began work on the course in 2020 in preparation for this week’s event. Ebert also remodeled Royal Portrush, which hosted the 2019 Open.

At 7,383 yards, Royal Liverpool is a relatively flat golf course that does not feature a ton of towering sand dunes. The rough right off the fairways is only about two inches thick, but there is almost a foot deep fescue 3-10 yards from the fairway landing areas. All fairways (32 yards wide on average) and playing areas are overseeded with fescue while there are certain paths with dwarf ryegrass.

Out of bounds comes into play on six holes, and there are deep and very penal fairway bunkers that were all repositioned to account for modern driving distances. Small, raised green complexes are surrounded by very steep-faced bunkers. Liverpool features flattish greens that measure a little less than 6,500 square feet on average and are made up of Browntop bentgrass and fescue. The greens will also roll a slow 10 on the stimpmeter, which is typical for an Open Championship. Hoylake also does not feature fairway irrigation systems and should guarantee we will see a firm golf course.

There have been several changes made by Ebert since The Open last took place here in 2014. The previous 15th hole has been replaced by a new 17th hole. The old 15th used to run east to west and measured 160 yards. Ebert flipped the hole 180 degrees in the other direction, and the short par-3 now plays just 135 yards and features a table-top, elevated infinity green. No. 17 is now a rugged little par-3 coming down the stretch and facing the ocean. “Little Eye” is now the closest hole to the beach on the property and is sure to provide plenty of drama coming down the stretch in the form of an exacting test of short-iron play and distance control. It is not all that dissimilar to the 17th at TPC Sawgrass.

The two late par-5s at 15 and 18 both feature new tee boxes. The 18th has been stretched to 607 yards, as the tee was moved back 50 yards and significantly to the right, while the out of bounds down the right side has been moved 20 yards farther left. The fairway now appears to be just a handful of yards wide off the tee, particularly with a carry of 240 yards to reach the fairway. Dangerous bunkers loom down the left side.

Major changes were also made to the fourth, seven and 13th holes. The front of the fourth green is now raised to produce a flatter landing area. The fourth green is also shrunk in the back right section and replaced by short grass. The seventh green was moved to the left, allowing for a new tee complex on the eighth hole to be built. A new runoff area around the 13th green was created as well.

The par was changed from a par-72 to a par-71, as the 10th hole, which was previously a 532-yard par-5, will now play as a 507-yard par-4.

The R&A, unlike the USGA, does not typically overcorrect when the scores are lower than expected. However, they are likely hoping that the weather cooperates along with the efforts to make Liverpool more difficult as it was on the softer side (by Open standards) in 2014. The 2006 edition saw firmer conditions, with Tiger Woods hitting 2-iron off nearly every tee, ranking outside the top 50 in driving distance but first in driving accuracy percentage.

The course layout includes three par-5s (two at 610+), four par-3s (three at 195+) and 11 par-4s (7 at 450+).

Correlated courses to Royal Liverpool include Royal Troon, Muirfield, Carnoustie, Royal Portrush, Royal St. George's with a little TPC Sawgrass and PGA National.


1st (Royal), Par-4, 459 yards

The tee shot has to be threaded between bunkers and the approach hits a heavily contoured green, which is 40 yards long and protected by a group of bunkers.

2nd (Stand), Par-4, 453 yards

18 yards of length were added for the 2014 Open. The green is heavily protected by bunkers.

3rd (Course), Par-4, 426 yards

This is normally the opening hole for Royal Liverpool members, with the clubhouse left and OB all the way down the right side of the fairway. The hole takes a 90-degree turn to the right for the second shot.

4th (Road), Par-4, 367 yards

This is the shortest par-4 on the course. Some will try to drive the green based on the wind direction, but most will have a short wedge into the green for an easier birdie opportunity.

5th (Long), Par-5, 520 yards

The shortest of the three par-5s provides a good birdie opportunity. A tee shot to the corner of the dogleg will allow players to go for the green in two. Cannot go right here as there are three bunkers on the right side of the fairway.

6th (New), Par-3, 201 yards

The first par-3 features a long and narrow green, which slopes from back to front and is guarded by bunkers on both sides.

7th (Telegraph), Par-4, 481 yards

They added 27 yards here for the 2014 Open. Players will look to aim to the right as much as possible considering there is heavy rough on that side. This is one of the tougher holes on the layout.

8th (Briars), Par-4, 436 yards

This hole provides a blind tee shot with the fairway protected by gorse on the left and a bunker on the right. The green is surrounded by four bunkers but is a large target.

9th (Dowie), Par-3, 218 yards

Another tough par-3 here even though the bunker on the right of the green has been reduced in size. However, players cannot bail out on the left side with a gully waiting to catch poor tee shots and leaving a highly difficult chip shot.

10th (Far), Par-4, 507 yards

This was converted to a par-4 for this week. Nevertheless, there is not a lot here except for a big bunker to the right of the green.

11th (Punch Bowl), Par-4, 392 yards

The best approach is from the left side of the fairway to a green that has seen a bunker removed from the back but the ones at the front repositioned to encroach more on the putting surface.

12th (Dee), Par-4, 449 yards

The bunkers on the corner of the dogleg are tough to avoid and that will leave a difficult approach to the raised green, which slopes from back to front.

13th (Alps), Par-3, 194 yards

The narrow green is set at an angle to the tee and is a slightly difficult shot to the pin in the back left. The only bunker is very deep and causes problems when the pin is on the front.

14th (Hilbre), Par-4, 454 yards

A similar hole to the 12th, which requires the approach to be hit to a narrow green sitting at a slight angle to the fairway.

15th (Field), Par-5, 620 yards

Previously the 16th hole, the 15th has been significantly lengthened since 2014. Three bunkers on the left must be avoided off the tee, while the approach has to avoid another three bunkers left of the green.

16th (Lake), Par-4, 461 yards

Formerly the 17th, the 16th is not an easy hole especially if the wind is directed at the tee. Bunkers are on both sides of the fairway, plus more sand beside the long and undulating (one of the few non-flat greens on the layout) green.

17th (Little Eye), Par-3, 136 yards

This is a brand-new hole with deep bunkers surrounding a raised “infinity” green that takes a bit of inspiration from the 17th at TPC Sawgrass.

18th (Dun), Par-5, 609 yards

There is OB lurking all the way down the right side of the sharp dogleg. If players bail out too much to the left, then it is not reachable for most to a green protected by five bunkers.

Open Championship Recent History

2022: Cameron Smith (-20/268), St. Andrews; 20-1

2021: Collin Morikawa (-15/265), Royal St. George's; 40-1

2020: Canceled due to COVID-19 pandemic

2019: Shane Lowry (-15/269), Royal Portrush; 70-1

2018: Francesco Molinari (-8/276), Carnoustie; 33-1

2017: Jordan Spieth (-12/268), Royal Birkdale; 16-1

2016: Henrik Stenson (-20/264), Royal Troon; 33-1

2015: Zach Johnson (-15/273), St. Andrews; 110-1*

2014: Rory McIlroy (-17/271), Royal Liverpool; 18-1

2013: Phil Mickelson (-3/281), Muirfield; 20-1

2012: Ernie Els (-7/273), Royal Lytham & St. Annes; 45-1

2011: Darren Clarke (-5/275), Royal St. George's; 200-1

2010: Louis Oosthuizen (-16/272), St. Andrews; 250-1

Playoff win over Marc Leishman and Louis Oosthuizen - *

Open Championship Trends and Angles

  • 9 of the last 12 winners had at least one top-5 finish in at least one of their six events before The Open.
  • 6 of the last 11 winners had at least one victory in at least one of their six events before The Open.
  • 16 of the last 22 winners had at least one worldwide victory earlier in the season.
  • 10 of the last 12 winners were inside the OWGR Top 40.
  • 8 of the last 12 winners had at least one top-15 in one of their three previous Open starts.
  • 7 of the last 12 winners were age 32 or older.
  • 10 of the last 12 winners played the week prior.
  • 13 of the last 16 winners had a previous top-10 or better in a previous Open.
  • 9 of the last 10 winners have posted a top-20 in at least one of their previous two majors.
  • 10 of the last 10 Open winners already had a win or a runner-up in a major in their career.
  • 13 of the last 13 winners had at least four career worldwide wins.
  • 11 of the last 13 winners had played The Open at least four times.
  • 13 of the last 13 winners had at least one top-5 finish worldwide earlier in the season.
  • 11 of the last 13 winners had at least four top-10 finishes earlier in the season.
  • 13 of the last 13 winners finished outside the Top 25 at the previous year's Open.

Statistical Analysis

The British Open is arguably the most difficult event of the year to build a traditional statistical model. The reasons for that include the randomness of weather and its significant effect on certain waves versus others where oftentimes there can be a draw bias, the absence of any historical ShotLink/Strokes Gained data to model off of, and the fact that links golf is an entirely different animal.

Furthermore, a lot of recency bias can creep in whether using the last 12, 24 or 36 rounds. Consider that many of the recent tournaments (i.e. Travelers Championship, Rocket Mortgage Classic, John Deere Classic, other DP World Tour events, etc.) do not exactly provide a facsimile of true links golf.

Therefore, these stats should be taken into context and bettors should not be slaves to any particular model this week.

Approach shots are always important and will be this week considering how open links courses are. You can find trouble off the tee, but there are multiple angles to attack the greens.

Strokes Gained Approach — Weighted (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Scottie Scheffler 92.16
  2. Brooks Koepka 86.76
  3. Jon Rahm 71.64
  4. Hideki Matsuyama 62.28
  5. Collin Morikawa 60.84
  6. Russell Henley 57.24
  7. Tom Kim 55.44
  8. Xander Schauffele 52.92
  9. Cameron Smith 52.92
  10. Patrick Cantlay 52.20
  11. Viktor Hovland 50.40
  12. Corey Conners 49.68
  13. Tony Finau 49.32
  14. Gary Woodland 47.88
  15. Rory McIlroy 45.36
  16. Wyndham Clark 45
  17. Bryson DeChambeau 45
  18. Rickie Fowler 45
  19. Matt Fitzpatrick 43.92
  20. Jordan Spieth 40.68

Players will have to use longer irons more often, especially with more windy conditions. In addition, even with the slight lengthening of the course, players will be using driver off the tee less frequently than normal.

Proximity 175-200 Yards

  1. Jon Rahm 29' 4
  2. Cameron Young 30' 7
  3. Collin Morikawa 30' 8
  4. Si Woo Kim 31' 1
  5. Rory McIlroy 31' 6
  6. Trey Mullinax 31' 9
  7. Keegan Bradley 31' 11
  8. Xander Schauffele 32' 0
  9. Scottie Scheffler 32' 3
  10. Christiaan Bezuidenhout 32' 5
  11. Hideki Matsuyama 32' 5
  12. Gary Woodland 32' 10
  13. Taylor Moore 32' 10
  14. Justin Rose 33' 0
  15. Tony Finau 33' 1
  16. KH Lee 33' 2
  17. Justin Thomas 33' 6
  18. Sungjae Im 33' 10
  19. Emiliano Grillo 34' 0
  20. Rickie Fowler 34' 1
  21. Proximity 200-225 Yards
  22. Jon Rahm 32' 11
  23. Tom Hoge 33' 0
  24. Max Homa 33' 8
  25. Gary Woodland 34' 1
  26. Tom Kim 35' 9
  27. Tony Finau 36' 3
  28. Collin Morikawa 36' 4
  29. Viktor Hovland 37' 5
  30. J.T. Poston 37' 7
  31. Sahith Theegala 38' 0
  32. Patrick Cantlay 38' 1
  33. Tyrrell Hatton 38' 1
  34. Justin Rose 38' 5
  35. Corey Conners 38' 11
  36. Si Woo Kim 38' 11
  37. Kurt Kitayama 39' 0
  38. Zach Johnson 39' 1
  39. Keegan Bradley 39' 5
  40. Adam Scott 39' 11
  41. KH Lee 40' 3

Note: These numbers indicated feet and inches from the hole for the average shot from the distance.

Predicting how this event will play out Off The Tee may end up being a fool's errand because players will use different modes of attack. Many will club down off the tee while others may use driver more often. I put together a model using to assemble an estimate of which players appear to be most poised for success. I used 40% for Strokes Gained: Off The Tee (Weighted), 20% for Driving Distance, 20% for Driving Accuracy and 20% for Fairways Gained. Here are the Top 20 in that model using the parameters listed above:

Off The Tee

  1. Scottie Scheffler
  2. Patrick Cantlay
  3. Corey Conners
  4. Viktor Hovland
  5. Abraham Ancer
  6. Tony Finau
  7. Collin Morikawa
  8. Tyrrell Hatton
  9. Sungjae Im
  10. Joaquin Niemann
  11. Si Woo Kim
  12. Louis Oosthuizen
  13. Gary Woodland
  14. Keegan Bradley
  15. Jason Day
  16. Taiga Semikawa
  17. Tom Kim
  18. Henrik Stenson
  19. Max Homa
  20. Brian Harman

All of the bunkers at Royal Liverpool were redone ahead of The Open, and they all feature riveted edges. Many of the bunkers were actually reduced in size, but they are actually larger due to the ground surrounding that will funnel shots in. Ebert also created pockets of exposed sand in the dunes, so bunker play will be important as well as Strokes Gained: Around The Green in general.

Strokes Gained Around The Green — Weighted (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Brooks Koepka 52.20
  2. Padraig Harrington 45.72
  3. Patrick Reed 37.08
  4. Min Woo Lee 36
  5. Scottie Scheffler 35.28
  6. Jason Day 33.84
  7. Dustin Johnson 32.76
  8. Rickie Fowler 31.32
  9. Hideki Matsuyama 31.32
  10. Rory McIlroy 27.36
  11. Keegan Bradley 26.28
  12. Tony Finau 26.28
  13. Russell Henley 26.28
  14. Brendon Todd 25.56
  15. Sahith Theegala 25.56
  16. Viktor Hovland 24.12
  17. Thomas Pieters 23.76
  18. Justin Rose 23.76
  19. Alex Noren 23.40
  20. Cameron Smith 23.40
  21. Harris English 23.40

Sand Save Percentage

  1. Justin Rose 66.67%
  2. Sungjae Im 64.20%
  3. Danny Willett 64.18%
  4. Chris Kirk 62.92%
  5. Jordan Spieth 62.82%
  6. Ben Griffin 62.28%
  7. Andrew Putnam 62.26%
  8. Sahith Theegala 61.33%
  9. Si Woo Kim 61.02%
  10. Brian Harman 60.61%
  11. Tony Finau 60.29%
  12. Adam Scott 59.68%
  13. Jason Day 59.15%
  14. Brendon Todd 59.09%
  15. Christiaan Bezuidenhout 58.82%
  16. Matt Fitzpatrick 58.82%
  17. Justin Thomas 58.21%
  18. Hideki Matsuyama 57.97%
  19. Tommy Fleetwood 57.97%
  20. J.T. Poston 57.75%

The greens at Royal Liverpool are relatively flat, but examining putting on slower greens plus approach putt performance (similar to last week at the Scottish Open) is pertinent.

Strokes Gained Putting Slower Greens (Last 50 rounds)

  1. Denny McCarthy 44.30
  2. Thorbjorn Olesen 42.95
  3. Tyrrell Hatton 38.50
  4. Bryson DeChambeau 35.20
  5. Laurie Canter 32.60
  6. Patrick Reed 31.50
  7. Billy Horschel 31
  8. Andrew Putnam 29.70
  9. Christiaan Bezuidenhout 28.45
  10. Bi-o Kim 28.45
  11. Brendon Todd 28.30
  12. Matt Fitzpatrick 27.85
  13. Zach Fischer 26.50
  14. Tommy Fleetwood 26.05
  15. Lucas Herbert 26
  16. Alex Noren 25.95
  17. Sam Burns 25.85
  18. Ben Griffin 25.10
  19. Harris English 24.05
  20. Jason Day 23.30

Approach Putt Performance (Last 50 rounds)

  1. Abraham Ancer 2.0
  2. Patrick Cantlay 2.0
  3. Ben Griffin 3.0
  4. Alex Noren 7.0
  5. Shane Lowry 7.0
  6. Tony Finau 9.5
  7. Branden Grace 11.0
  8. Talor Gooch 11.0
  9. Chris Kirk 14.0
  10. Hideki Matsuyama 14.0
  11. Jordan Spieth 14.0
  12. Zach Johnson 14.0
  13. Scottie Scheffler 20.5
  14. Christiaan Bezuidenhout 21.5
  15. Jason Day 21.5
  16. Stewart Cink 21.5
  17. Trey Mullinax 23.0
  18. Brian Harman 27.5
  19. Corey Conners 28.5
  20. Keegan Bradley 28.5
  21. Max Homa 28.5
  22. Sam Burns 28.5
  23. Sungjae Im 28.5

Seven of the 11 Par-4s are 450 yards or longer at Royal Liverpool.

Strokes Gained Par-4s 450-500 Yards (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Ewen Ferguson 45.94
  2. Richie Ramsay 45.94
  3. Robert MacIntyre 45.94
  4. Adam Scott 31.64
  5. Shubhankar Sharma 29.59
  6. Tyrrell Hatton 28.73
  7. Wyndham Clark 28.22
  8. Jorge Campillo 27.94
  9. Sami Valimaki 27.94
  10. Tommy Fleetwood 24.84
  11. Rory McIlroy 24.77
  12. Scottie Scheffler 24.59
  13. Patrick Cantlay 24.23
  14. Padraig Harrington 22.97
  15. Sungjae Im 22.82
  16. J.T. Poston 22.57
  17. Jason Day 21.96
  18. Ryan Fox 21.13
  19. Xander Schauffele 20.84
  20. Corey Conners 20.38

Two of the three par-5s are over 600 yards and they will be of even more importance considering they are two of the final four holes on the golf course.

Strokes Gained Par-5s 600-650 Yards (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Jon Rahm 31.79
  2. Jason Day 29.70
  3. Rory McIlroy 29.30
  4. Denny McCarthy 17.86
  5. Taylor Moore 16.63
  6. Seamus Power 14.83
  7. Jordan Spieth 13.57
  8. Min Woo Lee 13.54
  9. Robert MacIntyre 11.30
  10. Tyrrell Hatton 11.30
  11. Xander Schauffele 11.30
  12. Marcel Siem 11.30
  13. Thorbjorn Olesen 11.30
  14. Daniel Hillier 11.30
  15. Romain Langasque 11.30
  16. Chris Kirk 10.44
  17. Viktor Hovland 9.43
  18. Sungjae Im 9.04

To give us an idea of which players could play well this week, we can also examine player performance at the 2014 Open at Royal Liverpool, plus other correlated courses including Royal Troon, Royal St. George's, Royal Portrush, Muirfield, Carnoustie, TPC Sawgrass and PGA National. Some players have logged more rounds on these courses than others, so we will take the Strokes Gained: Total average per round on these courses.

Strokes Gained Total Comp Courses

  1. Scottie Scheffler 1.9 (14 rounds)
  2. Collin Morikawa 1.8 (14 rounds)
  3. Robert MacIntyre 1.8 (10 rounds)
  4. Tommy Fleetwood 1.7 (48 rounds)
  5. Adrian Meronk 1.7 (4 rounds)
  6. Shane Lowry 1.5 (50 rounds)
  7. Justin Thomas 1.4 (50 rounds)
  8. Sepp Straka 1.4 (28 rounds)
  9. Viktor Hovland 1.3 (16 rounds)
  10. Ben Griffin 1.3 (8 rounds)
  11. Victor Perez 1.3 (6 rounds)
  12. Justin Rose 1.2 (50 rounds)
  13. Jason Day 1.2 (50 rounds)
  14. Hideki Matsuyama 1.2 (42 rounds)
  15. Dustin Johnson 1.2 (50 rounds)
  16. Rory McIlroy 1.1 (50 rounds)
  17. Min Woo Lee 1.1 (10 rounds)
  18. Jordan Spieth 1 (50 rounds)
  19. Adam Scott 1 (50 rounds)
  20. Francesco Molinari 1 (50 rounds)
  21. Sungjae Im 1 (34 rounds)
  22. Bryson DeChambeau 1 (24 rounds)
  23. Marcel Siem 1 (6 rounds)
  24. Patrick Reed 0.9 (50 rounds)
  25. Louis Oosthuizen 0.9 (50 rounds)
  26. Brooks Koepka 0.9 (50 rounds)
  27. Jon Rahm 0.9 (33 rounds)
  28. Xander Schauffele 0.9 (28 rounds)


Viktor Hovland (22-1, DraftKings)

Hovland has not missed a cut since last year’s Scottish Open and aside from his win at the Memorial, he has recorded nine top-20s this year, turning four of them into top-10s, including at two of this year’s three majors, finishing second in the PGA Championship and seveth at Augusta.

The Norwegian is fourth on the PGA Tour for Strokes Gained: Off The Tee and fifth for Total Driving.

He finished fourth in The Open last year playing in the final group with McIlroy but shot a 74 on Sunday. He was also in the mix to win the PGA earlier this year but fell just short. Hovland has been through the pain of near-misses at major championships, so he has the scar tissue.

Furthermore, the victory at the Memorial showed that he can win big-time events under big-time pressure.

Patrick Cantlay (26-1, Circa Sports)

Despite finishing 14th or better in each of his last five majors, Cantlay, who is arguably the game's best player to never win a major, has yet to be right there in the thick of a major championship.

He missed the cut last week at the Scottish Open, but that should not turn bettors off all that much considering he shot a 67 on Friday when he gained on the greens and with his ball striking.

Cantlay is No. 1 on the PGA Tour for Total Driving and keeps the ball in play, which will be vital this week.

Collin Morikawa (35-1, DraftKings)

Three weeks ago, Morikawa finished runner-up in Detroit losing out in a playoff to Rickie Fowler.

He elected to skip the Scottish Open last weekend to take a trip to Wimbledon and then played Walton Heath, West Lancashire and Royal Birkdale in preparation for this week.

Morikawa ranks second on tour for Strokes Gained: Approach this season, so his impeccable iron play has returned and his distance disadvantage off the tee is mitigated this week as most players will club down off the tee.

Tony Finau (66-1, Circa Sports)

Although he earned a tour win in Mexico, Finau's 2023 season has certainly been down with only three top-10s in his 17 events.

Finau is in a bit of a slump having not finished better than 32nd in his last five starts, but this is the buy-low spot.

Most of these recent results are due to putter struggles, but he historically putts better on slow greens, and he has never finished lower than 28th in The Open thanks to a game that fits links golf with a lower ball flight and a solid all-around game around the greens.

Justin Rose (77-1, Circa Sports)

Rose missed the cut last week in Scotland, but he is playing his best golf in recent years this year in 2023 having returned to the winner's circle for the first time in four years earlier this season at Pebble Beach.

He missed The Open last year for the first time in 15 years having failed to qualify, so this one should be extra special to him.

Rose ranks No. 1 on tour for Sand Saves, so his game is likely to be tidy around the greens.

Hideki Matsuyama (80-1, BetMGM)

Before the missed cut in Detroit, Matsuyama had made nine straight cuts dating to his T-5 at The Players.

He has been in the top 8 for Strokes Gained: Tee To Green in all three major championships this year. World No. 1 Scheffler is the only other player to rank in the top 10 for Strokes Gained: Tee To Green in all three 2023 majors.

Adam Scott (90-1, BetRivers)

When looking back to the 2014 Open at Royal Liverpool, we will see that McIlroy won the claret jug and that Fowler was T-2. If you look just slightly below that, you will find Scott (then the No. 1 player in the world) at T-5.

He missed the cut by one last week but shot a 67 on Friday.

Scott has three top-5s and five top-10s in the British Open.

Jason Day (110-1, DraftKings)

Day has missed three of his last four cuts since returning to the winner's circle for the first time in five years at the AT&T Byron Nelson in May.

He ranks second on the PGA Tour for Scrambling and Bogey Avoidance and also ranks in the top 10 for Total Driving.

The low-ball flight could also work well for him here.

Matchups (41-27-6)

Brooks Koepka -130 over Cameron Smith (South Point)

Corey Conners -150 over Ryan Fox (Wynn)

Viktor Hovland -115 over Tommy Fleetwood (BetMGM)

Placement Markets

Top 10s

Rory McIlroy -110 (Boyd Sports)

Scottie Scheffler +110 (BetRivers)

Top 20s

Patrick Cantlay +105 (BetMGM)

Viktor Hovland +110 (Boyd Sports)

Xander Schauffele +120 (BetRivers)

Collin Morikawa +125 (DraftKings)

Top 30s

Dustin Johnson -105 (Boyd Sports)

Jordan Spieth -105 (Boyd Sports)

Matt Fitzpatrick +105 (Boyd Sports)

Tony Finau +125 (Boyd Sports)

Justin Rose +130 (Boyd Sports)

Top 40s

Jason Day +110 (BetRivers)

Talor Gooch +115 (Boyd Sports)

Adam Scott +120 (Boyd Sports)

Further Open Championship wagers will be posted at

Barracuda Championship preview will be published Wednesday at

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