By the time most of us wake up on Thursday morning the Open Championship will be well underway at St. Andrews in Fife, Scotland. If you are interested in betting on the whole field then you have to decide whether to go with Tiger Woods or against him – despite his terrible recent form the fact he has won the Open the last two times it has been played at St. Andrews means that he is the overwhelming 5/1 favorite, with no one else in the field at less than 16/1. The payoffs for betting on the whole field can be very large and exciting if you win, but in my mind it’s a far more interesting puzzle to bet the head-to-head matchups for the whole tournament. They are easier to handicap, and there is far less volatility and risk involved in playing them. Here’s a look at some of the more interesting British open predictions on head-to-head matchups that are available for the tournament (odds are from Bodog):
Tiger Woods (-200) vs. Phil Mickelson (+150) – This is a question of form versus history. Woods has won the last two Opens played at St. Andrews, but those took place in 2000 and 2005. Now he’s immersed in the worst stretch of his career, and not much has gone right for him recently. In his last tournament – the AT&T National – he managed to play four rounds without carding a single birdie. Mickelson has been mostly lousy in the Open, and especially lousy at St. Andrews, but he’s been far better this year overall, and he has a first and a fourth in majors this season. I’d take form over distant history most times, and especially in the case of Tiger right now.
David Duval (-110) vs. Tom Watson (-120) – This is a very interesting pairing. Duval is playing much better recently, but he’s still a far cry from the guy who won the 2001 Open. Watson was second in the Open last year at age 59, and he really should have won it. Duval should have the edge, but Watson is very good at links play, and seems to do particularly well when the weather is lousy. Watson played pretty well in the Masters and U.S. Open this year, too. I’d take the old man.
Lee Westwood (-115) vs. Ernie Els (-115) – Both of these guys are 18/1 to win the tournament, so it is no surprise that they are at the same odds here. Westwood is the best guy never to have won a major, and he is obviously very experienced with playing in Europe and all of the weather challenges that can offer. That’s going to be a serious benefit this week. Els has been in the top ten in each of his last three majors, and is playing better now than he has been in a long time. He has been in the top ten in eight of the last ten Opens, so he’s always a factor in this tournament. I’ll take the Big Easy.
Stewart Cink (-115) vs. Zach Johnson (-115) – Cink won the Open last year, but hasn’t had much form since then, and he had missed the cut in three of the last five Open Championships. Johnson has a major win in the 2007 Masters, and he has a win this year on the Tour. He hasn’t threatened for a win in the Open, but he has made the cut the last three times and as been reasonably consistent. I’ll take Johnson’s recent form here.
Sean O’Hair (-115) vs. Sergio Garcia (-115) – Garcia’s head just isn’t in the game right now, and it’s hard to imagine many players that he would be favored against right now given his lack of confidence and form. O’Hair is a solid play coming off a nice U.S. Open, and is certainly more trustworthy at this point. There are a lot of players I like more than O’Hair to win this tournament, but Garcia definitely isn’t one of them.
Padraig Harrington (-120) vs. Justin Rose (-110) – Harrington hasn’t won for a while, and hasn’t looked great, but he won three of six majors in 2007 and 2008 including the Open twice, so he is always a factor in the majors. Rose has never flirted with contention in the Open, but he has the game to win a major at some time, and is in great form with two wins since the beginning of June. I’ll take form over history again here and go with Rose.
Chris Wood (-120) vs. Geoff Ogilvy (-110) – Wood is just 22, but he’s a young golfer on the rise who has been fantastic at the Open – he was fifth and the low amateur in his debut in 2008, and improved to third last year. The links style suits him, and he is comfortable with lousy weather. It sounds liked he’d be an easy pick, but Ogilvy is a guy I like here, too. He had the lowest two round weekend score the last time the Open was at St. Andrews, and he has won a major and won a tournament this year, so we know he can perform under pressure. This one is close to a coin flip, but I’ll take the veteran at the slightly better price.
Take our British Open Predictions and bet them at Bodog and Bookmaker, both are taking golf bets on the Open Championship this week.