Operation "No Sleep" kicked off at 10:35 p.m. Pacific Time on Wednesday night when Paul Lawrie, Min Woo Lee, and Webb Simpson hit the first tee for Round 1 of the 150th British Open. Picked by many as a sneaky, sharp play, Webb Simpson had it to 3-under par on a couple of occasions before settling for a 1-under par 71 at the conclusion of his first round.
A couple of whiskeys, hours, and one short nap later, I watched tournament favorite Rory McIlroy begin his quest for a second career Claret Jug. After firing a brilliant opening-round 66, Rory remains the betting favorite, two shots behind first-round leader Cameron Young. McIlroy closed at around + 900 or 10-1 pre-tournament. He is now down to as low as 3-1 and as high as + 360 to win this week at St. Andrews.
So much of the hype prior to this historic edition of The Open Championship was centered around Tiger Woods. While I did place a small "funny-money" wager on him to win, I felt a bet on the big cat "To Make the Cut" was the best bet one could make involving the three-time British Open champ. That bet looks to be in jeopardy as Tiger began his first round on Thursday with a double-bogey at the first hole. He proceeded to shoot 5-over par on the outward nine. The inward nine wasn't much cleaner but did feature a pair of birdies. Woods finished with a 6-over par 78 and is tied for 146th place out of 156 golfers after Round 1. I've seen Tiger adjusted to anywhere from 2000-1 to 5000-1 now to win the championship.
Making his British Open debut, American Cameron Young is your first-round leader at 8-under par. After going off in the triple-digits, Young is now around + 800 to win. Masters champion Scottie Scheffler (+ 700) is four shots back, along with Cameron Smith. Smith is just three shots off of the lead at 5-under par. Dustin Johnson is another player at 4-under after Round 1, but his adjusted price is double that of Scheffler and Smith, at 14-1.
My pre-tournament outrights aren't looking too bad other than Tiger Woods. I was on Justin Rose as well, but he withdrew with a back injury before teeing off, so he is a refund.
Scottie Scheffler (+ 1450) is now 7-1 (4-under)
Jordan Spieth (25-1) is now 25-1 (1-under)
Shane Lowry (25-1) is now 60-1 (EVEN)
Dustin Johnson (36-1) is now 14-1 (4-under)
Hideki Matsuyama (47-1) is now 60-1 (1-under)
Adam Scott (125-1) is now 200-1 (EVEN)
Danny Willett (200-1) is now 100-1 (3-under)
I am not one typically to jump back into the market after just 18 holes of golf … and I am not going to be doing anything this time around either. However, in looking at the weather forecast, St. Andrews is expected to get some light rain overnight and into the late morning on Friday. This could present a softer, more "gettable" golf course for those teeing off late on Friday -- a group of players that would include Rory McIlroy, Cameron Smith, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Viktor Hovland, and Hideki Matsuyama.
Danny Willett will be teeing off in the late wave on Friday as well and is currently at 3-under par. If I didn't have a bet on him already, I wouldn’t mind adding him now at 100-1. Cam Smith is awful short at + 700 but I think he has a great chance to win this. I love the fact that I already have a ticket on Scheffler and DJ, as I really like their starts. I think Matsuyama will have a good day on Friday, so I'm glad to have him already in pocket.
Finally, two players that intrigue me are Joaquin Niemann and Russell Henley. Niemann has been adjusted to 35-1 and Henley is at 200-1. Niemann is at 3-under par while Henley is at -2. Unfortunately, both players start on Friday morning when it is expected to still be raining. It is calling for "light rain" so it may not be anything that causes too much trouble. Tough to say but I do like their current position and prices.
It is still very early, early enough to probably gamble with a couple of longer shots (Niemann, Matsuyama, Willett, Henley). Keep in mind, the outright market is one in which I utilize the very least amount of risk -- as compared to Top 10/20 markets and head-to-head matchups. Maybe a taking a small shot with any of the aforementioned players, those that I already have a ticket on or those that I do not, to win the tournament - and then risking more on the players of your choice to finish Top 10 or Top 20 would be a good strategy heading into Day 2. Play smart and don't waste all of your bullets. We've got a lotta golf left, which is a beautiful thing.