2021 British Open odds, preview, and course notes
After a longer than usual wait, the 2021 British Open will tee off at Royal St. George’s in England on Thursday, as the final major of an uncommon PGA Tour season that featured a total of six majors on the calendar.
In this unique reconstructed season, we watched Dustin Johnson slip on a green jacket in an unprecedented November Masters, then witnessed Hideki Matsuyama become the first men's Japanese major winner at Augusta in April.
Phil Mickelson made history as the oldest major champion, at 50, when he triumphed at the PGA Championship this spring, while Bryson DeChambeau and Jon Rahm each claimed their first major titles at the U.S. Open, held in September and June.
Now, as the world’s oldest golf tournament, the British Open, approaches, we can expect another remarkable finish at an iconic course in Sandwich, Kent, England.
The Open Championship 2021
Sun, July 18 2021, 1:00 PM
Rahm headlines as the +750 favorite of the 156-player field, while four-time major winner Brooks Koepka and No. 5 golfer in the world Xander Schauffele share +1600 odds to win. Jordan Spieth (+1800), Rory McIlroy (+2000), Justin Thomas (+2000), and Tyrrell Hatton (+2200) are also expected to contend for the Claret Jug.
Shane Lowry (+3500), who won this event in 2019 at Royal Portrush, will finally get the chance to defend his title, as this tournament was cancelled last season because of the pandemic.
Royal St. George's course notes and relevant statistics
Royal St. George's will host The Open for the 15th time in history and the first time since 2011, when champion Darren Clarke of Ireland defeated Dustin Johnson (+2200) and Phil Mickelson (+10000) by three strokes.
The par-70, 7,189-yard seaside links course is the shortest of the major championship courses this season and will play 22 yards shorter than it did in 2011.
As is common with links courses, golfers will come face to face with deep pot bunkers — including the terrifying "Himalaya" bunker on the par-4 fourth — massive, slow-running greens comprised of bentgrass and fescue, and a layout susceptible to volatile wind speeds.
In preparation for all of the talk about The ‘Himalaya’ bunker on the 4th hole, Royal St George’s next week 👀🏖🏔— Premier Golf - Custom Golf Travel Packages (@PremierGolfLLC) July 9, 2021
Heres some links course bunkers at Gullane Golf Club 😍
𝗜 𝘄𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱𝗻'𝘁 𝗳𝗮𝗻𝗰𝘆 𝗴𝗼𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗶𝗻 𝗮𝗻𝘆 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗼𝘀𝗲 😂https://t.co/jfV6AFqT6I pic.twitter.com/r68kdMLdxl
Strokes gained approaching the green will be one of the most important statistics to factor in when choosing a winner to back at Royal St. George’s, as is greens in regulation.
The past three winners of The Open (Lowry, Francesco Molinari, and Spieth) were each tied for 23rd or better in greens in regulation the week of their win, even though they played at different Open Championship courses. They also tied for seventh or better in putting: birdie or better percentage, were ranked fifth or better in scrambling, tied for fourth or better in bogey avoidance, and tied for ninth or better in par-3 and par-4 scoring.
Also of note, the last 10 winners played in at least three Open Championships prior to their victory.
Best bets for the 2021 British Open
One player you can never overlook in a major is Koepka (+1600), who has come on strong lately, despite recently undergoing knee surgery. The No. 8 golfer in the world finished fifth at the Travelers Championship in early July, after he landed fourth at the U.S. Open. He also finished runner-up to Mickelson at the PGA Championship and has a win at the Phoenix Open this season.
Aside from a 39th-place finish in 2018, Koepka has placed no worse than 10th at The Open since 2015. His best finish came in 2019 with a tie for fourth at Royal Portrush.
For a longshot play who could surprise with a high finish, look to Stewart Cink (+10000).
While the 48-year-old may seem like a huge underdog, we already saw a quinquagenarian win a major this year, and Mickelson displayed much weaker form ahead of his win.
Cink, the 2009 Open Championship winner, has already won twice on tour this season, at the Safeway Open and RBC Heritage, and finished 12th in April's Masters.
He also ranks first on tour in par-3 scoring, seventh in greens in regulation percentage, 21st in strokes gained approaching the green, 22nd in ball striking, and 34th in birdie or better percentage.
He most recently finished T24 and T20 in the 2018 and 2019 Open Championships, but is playing some of his best golf ahead of this year's competition.
How to watch the 2021 British Open
In addition to the famed Claret Jug, the winner of the 2021 British Open will receive $2.070 million of a $11.5 million purse, plus 600 FedExCup points.
You can catch the action on Thursday and Friday from 4 a.m to 3 p.m. ET, on Saturday from 5 to 7 a.m. ET, and on Sunday from 4 to 7 a.m. ET, on the Golf Channel.
NBC will provide live coverage on Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET, and on Sunday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET.