By Greg Frank
Before I dive into my picks for this week’s Open Championship, since there are tons of golfers in the field I want to describe my process. I often like to spread out my bankroll as if I was constructing a DFS lineup.
I’ll usually pick one or two big-name golfers from the top of the board with shorter odds, a few mid-priced players anywhere from 30 to 60-1, and a couple dart throws on long shots often at 90-1 or longer.
Even if you don’t follow my exact picks, I do think this strategy is the smartest when betting outrights in golf majors. The three major champions so far this year back me up pretty well too. Hideki Matsuyama won The Masters with a 40-1 pre-tournament price. Phil Mickelson came out of nowhere at the PGA Championship with odds ranging anywhere from 250 to 300-1 entering the tournament. Jon Rahm was one of the favorites at the US Open with a price in the 10-1 neighborhood before teeing off at Torrey Pines. Without further ado, here are the six golfers I’m betting to win The Open Championship:
*All odds are taken from DraftKings Sportsbook*
Dustin Johnson +2250: This is one of those buy lows on one of the favorites that I just can’t resist. It hasn’t been a strong 2021 for DJ as the South Carolina native has just two Top 10s in PGA Tour events in the calendar year. He missed the cut at the first two majors of the year and finished 19th at the US Open and only broke 70 in one of his four rounds. However, in 11 career starts at The Open Championship, Johnson has five top 15 finishes including a runner-up finish at Royal St. Georges, the same course the event is at this year, in 2011. If that’s not enough to sell you on his chances, who wouldn’t want the No. 1 player in the world at longer than 20-1?
Patrick Cantlay +3500: I can’t help but think Cantlay is going to break through and win his first major soon. There are no questions about his game, as he’s up to No. 7 in the world golf rankings, just behind Bryson DeChambeau and ahead of players like Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy. He also beat the current No. 4 golfer, Collin Morikawa, in a playoff at the Memorial just over one month ago to win the event. After turning pro in 2012, Cantlay has finished in the top 15 at all four majors since 2018, so he’s certainly knocking on the door in recent years. He’s currently in the top 5 in strokes gained on Par 4s, 10th in scoring average and 22nd in greens in regulation. Once Cantlay does get his first major win, he’ll likely be priced a tier higher and closer to the 15 to 25-1 range with regularity at the biggest events in the sport. He’s good enough to where backing him to break the ice at 30-1 or longer in majors is never a bad idea.
Tommy Fleetwood +4000: If you’re feeling sentimental and want to back an Englishman in his homeland after the English soccer team came up just short in the Euro Final, here’s your guy. In case you were wondering, an English golfer hasn’t won The Open since Nick Faldo in 1992. It might be easy to forget, as there was no Open Championship last year, but Fleetwood finished second in the event the last time it was held in 2019 at Royal Portrush. Fleetwood has been very vocal about what this tournament means to him and has not played an event since the US Open last month, which indicates to me an enhanced focus on this week. It hasn’t been the best season for Fleetwood, but he’s made 11 cuts in 15 events, and comes in sixth in strokes gained around the green. Links style golf often forces golfers to come up with some tricks in tight so Fleetwood’s strong play near greens could prove pivotal.
Marc Leishman +6000: Here’s another guy with a good history at this event. The Australian finished sixth at Royal Birkdale in 2017, second at St. Andrews in 2015 and fifth at Royal Liverpool in 2014. Leishman’s recent form looks pretty good as well as he’s entering off a third-place finish at the Travelers Championship and has made five cuts in his last six starts, including a fifth-place finish at The Masters. He’s been comfortable on links courses and his ball stays low to the ground which should help with winds expected to be north of 10 mph at Royal St. George’s all weekend.
Jason Kokrak +8000: It’s been a very strong season for this American and Kokrak is up to 24th in the world golf rankings. He had a stretch of three straight top 10s in late February and early March and won the Charles Schwab Invitational in late May. Despite missing the cut at the US Open, he responded with a strong 12th-place finish at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, his most recent start. His best finishes at majors are not too inspiring, as he’s done no better than 17th at last year’s US Open, but when you start approaching triple digits in the outright market, you’re always going to have some flaws with whoever you pick. At these prices, we’re just looking for him someone we think could be in contention come the back nine on Sunday. How these kinds of players hold it together on that final nine is anyone’s guess. But Kokrak’s strong play this season indicates he could give himself a chance.
Lucas Herbert +9000: Who?! Yeah if that was your reaction, I can’t necessarily blame you. Herbert is just 25 but has been red-hot on the Euro tour in July, winning the Irish Open in wire-to-wire fashion and finishing fourth in the Scottish Open. The betting markets aren’t going to adjust the same way to a 25-year-old Australian posting a couple top five finishes at Euro tour events as it would Rory McIlroy doing the same on the PGA Tour. Herbert has only had six major starts in his career, but has made the cut in four of them including his last two efforts at the PGA Championship and last year’s US Open. His strong Euro Tour play has him inside the Top 50 in the world golf rankings entering The Open. You could do worse at close to 100-1.