British Open, British Open preview
  • Tournament history, course details and weather
  • 6 free tips ranging between $19 and $201

After a brilliant three weeks of results, the Golf Insider brings you his British Open preview ahead of this week’s action in Northern Ireland

The below preview and tips is just a sample of what the Golf Insider provides: every tournament (including this week) he offers a full range of bets across the Outright, Top 20, First Round Leader and First Round 3-ball markets.

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The Tournament

Arguably the most prestigious of the golf Majors (well, it is if you ask anybody from the UK!) but the tradition, drama and extreme conditions of the Open Championship are beyond doubt. It’s the oldest of the Majors, having started in 1860 and heading into 2019’s renewal there have now been 147 contests to determine the winner of the “Claret Jug” – which is the iconic trophy awarded to each year’s winner.

Custom dictates that the tournament is held on a links course – in other words by the sea – and currently the event is staged each year at one of 10 courses which are used in rotation… there are five in Scotland (Troon, Muirfield, Turnberry, Carnoustie and St. Andrews), four in England (Hoylake, Birkdale, Lytham and Sandwich) and one in Northern Ireland (Portrush). A field of 156 golfers are eligible and they are drawn from players who qualify as of right, due to their world ranking, past successes in Majors, amateur record as well as those golfers who make it through local or regional qualifying contests.

Due to its long history the tournament began in a time when international competition was scarce, so it took from 1860 to 1921 to see the first winner from outside the UK. But now from 147 winners you see the champions coming from USA (44), Scotland (41), England (29), South Africa (10), Australia (9), Northern Ireland & Spain (3), Eire (2) plus Argentina, France, New Zealand, Sweden, Zimbabwe & Italy (1 each). The leading individual winners are Harry Vardon (6), James Braid, John Henry Taylor, Peter Thomson & Tom Watson (5 each).

The tournament is held in the week which includes the 3rd Friday of July and, like all the other Majors, the Open Championship is a four round, 72-hole strokeplay tournament. In the event of a tie, players compete in a 4-hole play-off.

The Course

This year’s tournament sees a return visit to Royal Portrush, after a break of some 68 years! Last used in 1951, this is a 36-hole facility in Northern Ireland boasting both the Dunluce (Championship) Course and Valley Course. It has a reputation for being one of the truly great links courses, and founded in 1888 it took on royal patronage in 1895. The Dunluce course was designed by Harry Colt and has several classically featured links holes. But as per all Open Championship venues, bunkers will feature heavily and driving will be key. Players will also need their short game to be in good working order. It will be set-up as a par 71 over 7,337 yards. A test for the players with “Calamity Corner” – the 16th hole – summing up the challenge that faces the field, even without any further troubles that the coastal weather can throw at them.

Last 10 Winners (and Top 5 places)

(2018)  Francesco Molinari (Kisner – McIlroy, Rose & Schauffele)
(2017)  Jordan Spieth      (Kuchar – Li – Cabrera-Bello & Garcia)
(2016)  Henrik Stenson     (Mickelson – Holmes – Stricker – Garcia, Hatton & McIlroy)
(2015)  Zach Johnson       (Leishman & Oosthuizen – Day & Spieth)
(2014)  Rory McIlroy       (Fowler & Garcia – Furyk – Leishman & Scott)
(2013)  Phil Mickelson     (Stenson – Poulter, Scott & Westwood)
(2012)  Ernie Els          (Scott – Snedeker & Woods – Donald & McDowell)
(2011)  Darren Clarke      (Mickelson & Johnson – Bjorn – Kim, Fowler & Campbell)
(2010)  Louis Oosthuizen   (Westwood – McIlroy, Stenson & Casey)
(2009)  Stewart Cink       (Watson – Westwood & Wood – Donald, Goosen & Goggin)

The Field

A standard Major field of 156 players this week in County Antrim. Rory McIlroy is the 9/1 market leader.

The Weather

More than any other week, the weather for the Open Championship is the most keenly watched. First up, it’s going to be wet. The forecast of rain is 80%-50%-50%-40% over the four days. Temperatures will be low 60s. Cloud cover almost throughout. And as for the wind… Thursday will see the strongest breezes at 13-14mph, the weekend speeds will be nearer 10mph. So perfectly playable this week in Northern Ireland, just a little damp.

The Chances

Dustin Johnson – $19 available

“I’ve long said that the cream rises to the top when it comes to the Majors, and it would be no huge surprise to any of the front 6-10 players (maybe Tiger Woods aside) lift the Claret Jug on Sunday. Johnson, for me, is a backable price at 16’s given his exceptional tee-to-green game, his winning pedigree, and his solid record in the Open – and the Majors in general. Add this to the likely course set-up this week at Portrush, with an emphasis on iron play, and the American should be fancying his chances. The fact that he hasn’t played any competitive links golf ahead of this week could go both ways, but I’ll take it as a sign that DJ knows what he’s doing and if he can get off to a good start this week, he’s going to be there or thereabouts. All the top players can turn on their game, almost at will, and if Johnson does this week, with his pinpoint iron play, I rate him a better value bet than several at the head of the market.”

Henrik Stenson – $31 available

“Stenson has been there, done that, when it comes to the Majors. And as a Ryder Cup player, FedEx Cup winner, he’s proven beyond doubt in this big tournaments. This year he’s not pulled up too many trees, but he’s finding form at just the right time with an 8th place in the Canadian Open, followed by a 9th in the US Open at another links course, Pebble Beach. Last week at the Scottish Open he was ranked No.1 for Greens-In-Regulation, and 2nd for Driving Accuracy. Had his putter warmed up, Stenson could easily have won at the Renaissance. But it shows the Swede is peaking at the right time and I think he’s a decent bet to run a good race at Portrush this week. An Open winner in 2016, Stenson has three other podium finishes to his name and last missed the cut in 2007. There’s good reason to expect a very strong showing by Stenson, making him very solid betting material IMO.”

Phil Mickelson – $101 available

“This week at Portrush the emphasis will be on approach play and scrambling from what I’ve heard from a colleague who was at the course on Sunday and Monday. There will be a lot of irons and conservative play on many holes which should suit the often wayward off the tee Mickelson. That’s not to say that long straight driving won’t be an advantage like it is every week, it’s just not going to be that kind of course. Green complexes are small, and tough to hit, so good iron and wedge play is essential and with a lot of greens likely to be missed a sharp short game is also of the upmost importance and there aren’t many better short games out there than Lefty’s. Mickelson’s recent form has been poor, but he has made the cut at all three Majors this year and he certainly knows how to play and win on a links golf course better than most. I’ve found that recent form tends to go out of the window when it comes to Majors and at triple figures I’m willing to take a chance on this former Open Champion whose game should be well-suited this week.”

Erik Van Rooyen – $101 available

“EVR is fast becoming a world class player who just needs to find a way to handle Sundays better. He’s consistently putting himself in good positions to win come Sunday, but like we saw last week, he still hasn’t managed to get over the line on the main tours. His tee-to-green game is as good as anyone right now on the European Tour, and despite an quadruple bogey eight on his second hole on Sunday would have finished solo 3rd – don’t we know it! He finished 8th at the PGA Championship on his Major debut, and 43rd at the US Open at Pebble Beach a few weeks later to show he’s more than comfortable on the biggest stages. I know it’s a lot to ask that a player without any main tour wins breaks through at a Major, but on current form he’s definitely in with a big chance and getting 10 places at a price of about 20/1 for a Top 10 is mega value!”

Haotong Li – $111 available

“Li is a class player who has had a solid season. He too has made all three Major cuts this year and looks like a genuine contender week-in, week-out. He did miss the cut last week by a shot, but an opening 73 meant that a second round 65 still wasn’t good enough to see him through to the weekend. He did finish 15th at the Irish Open at Lahinch the previous week and looks like a player who thrives on links courses. My man at Portrush singled out Haotong Li as one who looked mightily impressive and I’ve seen him up close and personal and can agree with this statement. He hits it long and his irons and like lasers. Li came 3rd on his Open debut in 2017, and 39th last year. He has other links form, he finished 5th in last year’s Alfred Dunhill Links in Scotland, and 3rd at the Rocco Forte Open in 2017 which is also played on a links course. Li has been going off around 33/1 in his last two events with extremely strong fields, so I’m surprised to see him at nearly four times the odds this week even though it is a Major. A player definitely worth getting onside at triple-figure odds.”

Mike Lorenzo-Vera – $201 available

“MLV is a player who like Van Rooyen still hasn’t got a maiden tour win yet but who is near the very top of the list of players who will do so any week now. MLV’s form is great with four Top 10’s from his last eight starts, and no missed cuts since January. He’s had two runner-up finishes during this period of exemplary play, one at the Qatar Masters and one at the Andalucia Masters. He finished 9th at the Irish Open two weeks ago, and 28th last week in Scotland, so he’s well-tuned for this week’s test and confidence couldn’t be higher. MLV has played in three Majors and made the cut it all three with this year’s PGA Championship the best result when he finished an excellent 16th. Again it’s asking a lot for this talented Frenchman to break through at a Major, but at these prices he’s a superb each-way selection and could well go close to winning the Claret Jug.”

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