2019 British Open preview: Who to bet based on trends

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July 17th, 2019

The Open Championship at Royal Portrush, Northern Ireland

Golf’s final major of the year is just around the corner, as the Open Championship, aka the British Open, welcomes the best of the sport to Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland on Thursday.

Irishman and 2014 British Open winner Rory McIlroy is the favorite (+800) to win in his home country, but don’t expect him to hoist the Claret Jug on Sunday.

Key Open Historical Trends

Looking at the history of the tournament over the past decade, a few key trends point toward a potential underdog claiming the Open Championship trophy.

When it comes to the average age of the British Open winner, seven of the last 10 champions were 35 or older. McIlroy and 2017 champ Jordan Speith were both in their 20s when they won, but chances are an older veteran will top the leaderboard this weekend.
A few names to consider are Henrik Stenson (+2500), Adam Scott (+2500), and longshot Chez Reavie (+12500). These three also fit another important trend regarding British Open winners: recent form. Five of the last six Open champions posted a win in one of their last five starts leading up to the major. The one exception is 2015 Claret Jug owner Zach Johnson, who failed to win in one of his five starts ahead of the tournament, but he did manage to score three top 10 finishes in those events.

Stenson, age 43, just placed fourth in last week’s Scottish Open, another links course like Royal Portrush, ninth in the U.S. Open, and eighth in the Canadian Open. He’s a solid pick to place top 5 in the Open Championship as well.

Thirty-nine-year-old Adam Scott is worth backing, too, after finishing seventh in his last start, the U.S. Open, second in the Memorial Tournament end of May, and eighth in the PGA Championship.

Lastly, Chez Reavie won the Travelers Championship in his second-to-last start and tied for third at the U.S. Open. There’s good value in betting Reavie to finish top 10 (+1400) or top 20 (+575).

One final trend to consider when picking a British Open winner is past performances in the Open. Nine of the past 10 winners posted a top-six finish in a previous Open Championship. Scott has accumulated three top-six finishes in his appearances at the Open. Stenson scored four, including a win in 2016.

One more longshot to consider, though, is 35-year-old Rafa Cabrera-Bello. Rafa landed in a tie for ninth in the Scottish Open, finished T4 at the Irish Open the first week of July, and came in third at the BMW International Open in June. The icing on the cake, though, is his past performance at Royal Portrush at the 2012 Irish Open, where he finished second. Based on the trends above, the Spaniard should find himself hanging around the top of the leaderboard, and may just win his first major on Sunday, when it’s all said and done.

RAYMOND: The Open: Can Patrick Cantlay be the first winner since 1951 at Royal Portrush?

DURHAM: Golf: The Open Championship preview

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