The Open Championship: Betting Tips, Stats & History - Thursday 19th July 2018

St Andrews Old Course Golf Course

The Open is one of the most famous events in the sporting world, let alone in golf. It makes up one of the four majors and with it is the only one to be hosted outside of the US, taking place in the United Kingdom.

It’s also the oldest major, first held over 150 years ago, and often the one that offers the toughest challenge to the field, mainly because of the extreme weather conditions that often occur throughout the week. It takes place in mid-July and is played at one of 10 courses which work in a rotation system that decides who hosts.

Some of golf greatest players have lifted the Claret Jug as Open Champions, with winners including Harry Vardon, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson.

Open Championship Betting Tips for 2018

Rose Ready for Carnoustie Triumph

It’s not a great sight for European golf that, in a Ryder Cup year, each of the men’s four major championships are currently held by American players. Patrick Reed’s Masters win and Brooks Koepka’s successful defence of the US Open saw them join Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth as the current major champions. Spieth, however, has already handed the Claret Jug back to the R&A and must to defend his title at the Open this week.

Spieth’s win came at Royal Birkdale, perhaps the most popular course on the Open rotation amongst the players. He has to defend it at Carnoustie, perhaps the toughest Open course of the lot. There’s been no rain in Carnoustie for over a month so you can add firm and fast conditions to deep rough, treacherous pot bunkers and gusty coastal winds to the list of challenges that the world’s best players will need to navigate.

Justin Rose (16/1)

Many have argued that men’s golf has never been in a stronger position than it finds itself in currently. Certainly there are more genuinely world class players at the top of the sport than ever before. A quick look at the Open betting shows that 16 players are available at odds of 25/1 or less. The bookies are finding it very difficult to separate the best of the best but it’s Justin Rose at 16/1 with Betfred who represents the most tempting options of those towards the top of the outright market.

Rose had his breakthrough at the Open when he finished fourth in the 1998 Open as an amateur. That remains his best ever finish at the Open but his incredible run since finishing tied for 54th at last year’s Open suggests that the time is right for that to change in stunning fashion.

The last 12 months have brought four wins in four different countries and enough top 10 finishes for anybody to retire on. Rose is not the sort of man to be content with what he’s achieved though, in fact those successes only drive him on to try and do better. He has a vast amount of links golf experience and sharpened up the skills required at last week’s Scottish Open where he finished ninth. He’s also a major champion who has contended in the biggest tournaments in golf so expect Rose to take his chance on Sunday if he puts himself into contention.

Tyrrell Hatton (40/1)

Brandon Stone was a surprise winner of the Scottish Open at Gullane. The only surprise about Tyrrell Hatton’s performance was that he didn’t finish closer to the leader. There are few players in the field for the 2018 Open who feel quite as comfortable playing links golf as Hatton. He’s a two time winner of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship which includes a round at Carnoustie. It’s fair to say that the course plays significantly easier in that pro-am than it will this week, but Hatton has shown that he can stand up to brutish courses several times before.

The one criticism of Hatton that you’ll hear repeated is that he allows his fiery side to negatively affect his golf too often. It works both ways though and if he can remain patient when he needs to this week that competitive side he see Hatton secure his biggest win to date at 40/1 with Bet365.

Lee Westwood (100/1)

Lee Westwood is playing in his 24th Open in a row. That tells you almost everything you need to know about the longevity of a man who was once the number one golfer in the world. Everybody knows that a major championship is the one thing missing from Westwood’s CV but could he finally change that at Carnoustie?

Westwood had creditable finishes of 18th and 35th the last two times the Open was held at Carnoustie and he’s playing at least as well now as he was in 1999 and 2007. Taking an extended break from professional golf earlier on in the year has worked out very well for Westwood. He’s looking fit, fresh and ready for yet more success so do not write his chances off at 100/1 with Betfair.

Format

Golf Ball, Tee and Scorecard

The completion take place over 4 days, staring on a Thursday and running through until the Sunday. The field often starts with around 156 players in total, which makes it one of the biggest golfing events of the year. Due to the time of year that the event is played means that the days are long, but it still requires players to start from both the first and tenth tee for the opening two days at least.

The tournament is a stroke play event, meaning that 72 holes will be played in total, broken down into 18 for each day. After 36 holes the cut will be enforced and players who aren’t within the top 70 and ties or within 10 shots of the lead are removed from the tournament. The remaining players then play out 36 more holes over the Saturday and Sunday before crowing the winner. The winner will be the players with the lowest gross score after 72 holes.

In the event that one or more players are tied at the end of 72 holes and play-off will take place. This will be sudden death and they will continue playing until they have a winner. 

Courses

Carnoustie Golf Course Hotel

The 2018 Open is being held at Carnoustie. The decision making process behind the courses within the rota allows for several different courses to host the event. The courses all have to be links based courses, which basically mean they are near the sea and have a more natural feel to how the course was created. Some state that it’s ‘as God intended golf to be played’. 

The courses are mainly based throughout Scotland and England, with just one being based in Northern Ireland. The rota includes just 10 courses at any one time, but courses can be dropped should the committee feel that they are no longer up to scratch. In fact, in 2016 Muirfield was dropped from the Open rota for their refusal to allow Women to become members within their club. Following another vote in 2017, the decision to allow female members was overturned and in turn, the course was reinstated back on the Open rota. 

Open Championship Host Courses

CourseLocationOpens HeldLast HostedNext Hosting
Royal Birkdale England 10 2017 TBC
Royal Troon Scotland 9 2016 TBC
St Andrews Scotland 29 2015 2021
Royal Liverpool England 12 2014 TBC
Muirfield Scotland 16 2013 TBC
Royal Lytham & St Annes England 11 2012 TBC
Royal St George England 14 2011 2020
Turnberry Scotland 4 2009 TBC
Carnoustie Scotland 7 2007 2018
Royal Portrush Northern Ireland 1 1951 2019

There are a further 4 golf course which have held the Open Championship but that are not currently on the host rota. None of these have been used since the early 20th century and include Prestwick Golf Club which held the first twelve tournaments.

Open Host Courses No Longer Used

CourseLocationOpens HeldFirst HostedLast Hosted
Prince's GC Sandwich, England 1 1932 1932
Prestwick GC Prestwick, Scotland 24 1860 1925
Royal Cinque Ports GC Deal, England 2 1909 1920
Musselburgh Links Musselburgh, Scotland 6 1874 1889
British Coastal Golf Course

As mentioned above, all of the Open courses are what’s known as links courses. This often provides a stern test of golf for the golfer as not only do they have to do battle against a very tough golf course, but also the elements.

With a lot of the courses within the Open rota, to look at them purely by numbers in terms of distance and layout, by modern day standards most are quite short and don’t actually pose that much of a threat. But, with high winds, no shelter from any trees (because there aren’t any!) and courses perfectly set up to catch unforgiving shots, makes links golf about as tough as you will find. 

One of the key traits that a golfer must posses to do well on these types of courses is that of a solid short game. There are going to be times where tee shots and even approach shots go off line and you are going to need to get up and down to save par. Players who are good chippers and solid putters generally do well. 

This is backed up with previous winners in the last ten years or so including Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Darren Clarke, Stewart Cink and Padraig Harrington.  

The conditions at some point in the event are going to be wet and windy. It’s Britain, in summer time, so it’s almost guaranteed it will rain! This means that players will need to be able to control their ball flight in order to stay under the wind, with many playing more bump and runs in a single round of links then they will likely play all year. 

The flip side of that is when you get really dry spells and the courses can, because of the wind, dry out in a matter of hours. Some of the most exciting Opens have come where it’s been rock hard on course and players were having to land the ball 20-30 yards short of the green just to get the ball to stop. 

Open Qualification Series

One of the beauties of the Open is that players of all abilities will have the chance to qualify. Well, they need to be off a handicap of 1 or better, but they don’t need to be a pro. 

A large number of places are made up through automatic qualifiers, such as top 50 ranked players in the world, top 30 from previous seasons Race to Dubai and top 30 from the Tour Championship. The interesting part comes from the Open Qualifying Series, where players from all over the world can take part in a number of events leading up to the Open to gain their spot. Depending on the profile of each tournament, 1 to 4 spots will be up for grabs at each event. 

As a step into these events, there is also a series of reginal qualifiers, before entering final qualifying. For professionals, the final two events that can secure your spot in the Open is winning that of the Scottish Open or the John Deere Classic based out in America. 

Current 2018 Open Qualifiers

TournamentDateQualifiers
Australian Open Nov 2017 Cameron Davis (AUS), Jonas Blixt (SWE), Matt Jones (AUS)
Joburg Open Dec 2017 Shubankar Sharma (IND), Erik Van Rooyen (RSA)
Shaun Norris (RSA)
Singapore Open Jan 2018 Jazz Janewattananond (THA), Danthai Boonma
Sean Crocker (USA) Lucas Herbert (AUS)
Mizuno Open May 2018 Shota Akiyoshit (JPN), Masahiro Kawamura (JPN)
Michael Hendry (NZ), Masanori Kobayashi (JPN)
Korea Open Jun 2018 Minchel Choi (KOR), Sanghyun Park (KOR)
Open de France Jun 2018 Russel Knox (SCO), Julian Suri (USA), Marcus Kinhult (SWE)
The National Jun 2018 Ryan Arnour (USA), Sung Kang (KOR)
Abraham Ancer (MEX), Bronson Burgoon (USA)
Notts Hollinwell GC Jul 2018 Ashton Turner (ENG), Oliver Wilson (ENG), Rhys Enoch (WAL)
Princes Jul 2018 Tom Lewis (ENG), Haraldur Magnus (ICE), Retief Goosen (RSA)
St Annes Old Links Jul 2018 James Robinson (ENG), Marcus Armitage (ENG), Jack Senior (ENG)
Renaissance Club Jul 2018 Sam Locke (SCO), Grant Forrest (SCO), Thomas Curtis (ENG)
Greenbrier Classic Jul 2018 Brandt Snedeker (USA), Jason Kokrak (USA)
Kelly Kraft (USA), Austin Cook (USA)
Irish Open Jul 2018 Andy Sullivan (ENG), Ryan Fox (NZ), Zander Lombard (RSA)
John Deere Classic Jul 2018 Michael Kim (USA)
Scottish Open Jul 2018 Brandon Stone (RSA), Eddie Pepperell (ENG), Jens Dantorp (SWE)

Silver Medal

The Silver Medal is awarded to the amateur with the lowest score after 72 holes. To qualify for this they must make the cut and if no amateur’s make the cut, then the awarded won’t be presented. 

Quite a prestigious range of players have won this in the past, including Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Justin Rose, Chris Wood, Peter McEvoy and Hal Sutton. 

Silver Medal Winners that have Won a Major

PlayerYearPositionMajor WinsTour Wins
Rory McIlroy 2007 42nd (Tied) 4 30
Justin Rose 1998 4th (Tied) 1 27
Tiger Woods 1996 22nd (Tied) 14 139
Jose Maria Olazabal 1985 25th (Tied) 31 2
Hal Sutton 1981 47th (Tied) 14 1

Statistics

In recent years, there has been a real mix of players from different nationalities that have done well at the Open. The US went on a great run from 1995 through to 2006 winning all but 2 of the Open Championships, these days, however, things are much more open. 

Whilst you would think players from the UK and Ireland would dominate an event like this, given they are playing on what most would have grown up on, they have a pretty bad record in recent years. In fact, the last Englishman to win the Open was that of Nick Faldo back in 1992. The last Northern Irishman was Rory McIlroy in 2014. 

Pie Chart Showing Nationalities of Last 40 Open Championship Winners

The greatest winning margin for the Open came about in 1862 when Old Tom Morris won by 13 shots, a record that stood in all majors until Tiger Wood’s obliterated the field at the US Open in 2000, winning by 15 shots. 

The lowest round at the Open was recorded in 2017, by South African Branden Grace. He shot 62 at Royal Birkdale, which was not only a course record, an Open record but also the lowest round ever to be scored in any major ever. 

Henrik Stenson has the lowest ever 72 hole score of 264 when he won at Royal Troon in what was one of the best final rounds of the Open era, going head to head with Phil Mickleson. 

Lowest Open Championship Winning Scores

PlayerYearCourseScoreTo ParWinning Margin
Henrik Stenson 2016 Troon 264 -20 1 shot
Greg Norman 1993 Royal St Georges 267 -13 2 shots
Jordan Spieth 2017 Royal Birkdale 268 -12 3 shots
Nick Price 1994 Turnberry 268 -12 1 shot
Tom Watson 1977 Turnberry 268 -12 1 shot
Tiger Woods 2000 St Andrews 269 -19 8 shots
Tiger Woods 2006 Royal Liverpool 270 -18 2 shots
Nick Faldo 1990 St Andrews 270 -18 5 shots
Rory McIlroy 2014 Royal Liverpool 271 -17 2 shots
Tom Lehman 1996 Royal Lytham St Annes 271 -13 2 shots
Tom Watson 1980 Muirfield 271 -13 4 shots

History

Sign for Pretwick Golf Course

The Open was first played in 1860 and took place at Prestiwck Golf Club. Interestingly, the first tournament was actually held for professional players only, and had a field of just 8 players as a result. Willie Park Sr. won the tournament, beating Old Tom Morris by two storks. 

After this event, it was decided that they needed to find the best golfer in the country and as a result set up a challenge belt where players would take part at a series of golf courses throughout England and Scotland. 

The winner of this challenge received a red leather ball with a silver buckle. It was decided in 1870 to award Old Tom Morris the belt to keep after he won on 3 separate occasions. The following year they actually failed to host an event as they didn’t have anything to offer the players. As a result of this, the Claret Jug was created and it has been the same trophy presented to winners of the event ever since. 

The Claret jug’s official name is actually the Golf Champion Trophy, and the winners of the Open will be formally announced as the Champion Golfer of the year, in respect of the first few outings of the tournament. 

The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews

St Andrews Golf Course Club House

The Royal and Ancient or the R & A as they are more commonly known are part of the oldest and most prestigious gold clubs in the world, based in St Andrews, Scotland. They’ve been about since 1754 and with it are one of the key companies as a role as an authority within the game of golf. These days they are better known for their work improving the rules of golf, but have been known to host several tournaments in their time, none more prestigious than The Open.

Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris

Old Tom Morris is one of the most iconic names in golf, even though he was born way back in 1821. He’s been able to win the Open on four separate occasions from 1861 to 1867. He’d been playing golf since he was 10 years old and moved to Prestwick as a young boy. 

We worked as a caddy in much of his early life for Allan Robertson, who is widely regarded as the world’s first professional golfer. Morris worked with him for four years, walking countless miles around the St Andrews links and essentially learning his trade. 

He later went onto become head green keeper of St Andrews in 1865, a role he held up until 1903. Amongst other things, he worked within the R & A and with several other golf courses to help use his skills to bring them up to the standards that he had set at St Andrews. 

Young Tom Morris was of course, Old Tom Morris’s son. He also started playing golf from an early age, learning from his father mainly at the home of golf, St Andrews and also at Prestwick Park where his father was head greenkeeper. 

As he progressed as a golfer, his first Open win came about in 1868, but in what’s widely regarded as an astonishing feat, his father beat him the following year to win his fourth title in 1867. Between the pair they won 8 Open Championships, with Young Tom Morris being inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1975 and his father one year alter in 1976. 

The pair still hold the record for the youngest (Young Tom Morris, 17) and Oldest (Old Tom Morris, 46) winners of the Open ever. 

Tom Watson

Golfer Tom Watson on Golf Course
Credit: Ian Tilbrook (cropped), Wikimedia Commons

Tom Watson will undoubtedly go down as one of the greatest golfers of all time, let alone in The Open history. Watson won the Open 5 times in just 8 years, from 1975 to 1983. In that time, he went on to beat some of the best there have been, none more special than his 1997 victory over Jack Nicklaus, which will go down as one of the greatest final rounds in golf major history. 

He’s been able to win the Open on 5 separate occasions, 2 more than his rival at the time, Nicklaus, and only 1 behind the all-time record of 6, set by Harry Vardon from 1896 to 1914. Tom Watson has won 8 majors in total and was inducted in the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1988. 

Whilst his 5 wins were remarkable, no doubt, his biggest achievement almost came in 2009 when he rolled back the years to finish runner up. In a tournament that will be remembered more for the fact that Tom Watson, at the age of 59, finished runner up, rather than the ‘unfortunate’ winner that year, Stewart Cink, after a 4-hole playoff. 

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