Open Championship 2018: DJ Heads Strong Field at Carnoustie
The third Major Championship of the golfing year is back in Scotland this week with a tough test in store at Carnoustie. Known affectionately as ‘Carnasty’ by those who have fallen foul to the treacherous nature of the course, a demanding four days lies ahead of us.
Jordan Spieth is our reigning champion but his form has taken a downward turn since victory at Royal Birkdale twelve months ago so our current World Number One heads the betting markets in the run in to Thursday’s first tee time.
Man to Beat
Dustin Johnson is our favourite this week and on offer at best odds of 14/1 with 188Bet to take home the Open Championship and his second major overall. DJ briefly lost his place at the top of the world rankings and does tend to take frequent breaks from the game but he bounced back with victory at the St Jude Classic last month to reclaim his slot as the world’s best golfer.
Behind Johnson, MarathonBet have three players listed at the top industry price of 33/2. Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy are the men in question and of those three, only Rory is a former Open winner.
It’s very tightly bunched as we can already see and there are plenty more top class players to consider as we move through the field.
Tommy Fleetwood was Europe’s Race to Dubai winner last season and 2018 started in a positive manner with a successful defence of the Abu Dhabi championship. A second place at the US Open followed so there will be plenty of interest in Fleetwood at odds of 20/1 with Coral and 888Sport.
Close behind is Spain’s Jon Rahm at best odds of 22/1 with 188Bet and also at 22/1, this time with Unibet, is our defending champion Jordan Spieth. That victory at Royal Birkdale last year was Spieth’s third Major but his dip in form since then was unexpected and a real concern. His touch with the putter has completely deserted him and a bet on Spieth at those 22/1 odds looks to be a big gamble.
Towards the end of the chasing pack, two former champions – Tiger Woods and Henrik Stenson – can both be picked up at the same top price of 28/1. Tiger is available at that figure with MarathonBet while 2016 Champion Stenson can be claimed at 28/1 with BetFred.
There will be some interest in Tiger who has showed small glimpses of his best form since his latest comeback and he came close to an overdue tournament win at the Valspar Championship.
Also worth mentioning are Sergio Garcia at best odds of 33/1 with Ladbrokes and BetBright and the in-form Francesco Molinari at a top price of 33/1 with 888Sport. Current US Masters Champion Patrick Reed is another man at 33/1 with 10Bet and Sport Pesa while England’s Paul Casey, who is so consistent on the PGA Tour, is on offer at 35/1 with MarathonBet.
Last year, Matt Kuchar started the Open at around 70/1 and finished in second place, giving tidy profits to those who backed the American in the Each Way markets. It’s a busy week for the bookies with the likes of Coral paying down to ten Each Way places so there is likely to be some high-priced value as we carry on down through the list of competitors.
Kuchar could certainly be considered again at 70/1 with BetFred and Royal Panda while Phil Mickelson is another at best odds of 55/1 with SportingBet. Phil enjoyed a strong start to 2018 but a surprisingly subdued performance at the Scottish Open at the weekend will make some punters wary at that 55/1 price.
Elsewhere, it’s been a consistent season for the popular Ian Poulter who will attract interest at his top price of 70/1 with MarathonBet while Bubba Watson has had a superb year, winning three tournaments on the PGA Tour which will see him tee off at Carnoustie at that same 70/1 price with Royal Panda.
Matthew Fitzpatrick and Tyrrell Hatton are also consistent players in Europe and we can add both of those names to our growing list of golfers to consider this week. Fitzpatrick is available at best odds of 66/1 with Ladbrokes and 188Bet while Hatton is shorter at a top price of 40/1 with BetFred and 10Bet.
We also have Brandon Stone who is our most recent winner on the European Tour, having claimed the Scottish Open with a brilliant last round of 60 on Sunday. South Africa’s Stone now takes his place among the field for Carnoustie and he can be backed at a best of 300/1 with BetFred.
The list really is too big for us to mention every potential winner or Each Way punt be we would also suggest running the rule over Luke List at 150/1 with BetFred and Keegan Bradley at 150/1 with William Hill.
Course, Trends and Indicators
One of the first points to note is that only Phil Mickelson has won both the Scottish Open and the Open Championship when the events have been held within seven days of each other. History is not, therefore, on the side of Brandon Stone but if he can retain his form from Gullane at the weekend then he could certainly be an option for a Top Ten finish in an admittedly stronger field.
As for the course, we’re back at Carnoustie for the first time since 2007 when Ireland’s Padraig Harrington won in a play off over Sergio Garcia. This is a classic Scottish links course and at 7,402 yards it’s long for a par 71 so distance hitting is an asset but it must be combined with accuracy with plenty of hazards waiting to punish wayward tee shots.
Fairways are tiny and tee shots don’t have to go too far astray for golfers to find an unplayable lie. The only potential piece of good news lies with the weather which has been calm in the UK for much of the summer so the notorious sideways winds may not be so much of a factor.
With all of that information taken into account, we’ll embark on the tough task of picking a winner.
A lot of the stats and trends are pointing towards Justin Rose this week and while his own form doesn’t quite suggest a successful week, there are a lot of reasons to get behind the Englishman.
Rose has the game for the course with accuracy over power but he also has the distance to cope with conditions. If that wind stays away completely then benign weather may help a host of players from the US but it won’t necessarily harm Justin either.
He wasn’t at his best in Gullane last week but he tends to rise for the bigger occasions so we’ll back Justin Rose as our each way selection while adding a range of top ten tips which we hope will lead to a profitable four days at Carnoustie.