The Open Claret Jug

The Open returns to Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951.

Date: July 18-21, 2019

Course stats: Par 71, 7,344 yards

Purse: £8.6 million Winners Prize Money: £1.55 million

Defending champion: Francesco Molinari

Weather forecast: Warm with rainy spells

The Open

The Open Championship returns to Northern Ireland for only the second time in its illustrious history. The Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush is the venue this week as it was back in 1951. The course is situated on Antrim’s Atlantic coast and it is regarded as one of the best courses in the world.

The Irish Open was hosted here back in 2012. Wales’ Jamie Donaldson was the winner on that occasion with a score of 18 under par. However, changes to the course have been made since then. Extra room was needed to accommodate the new Spectator Village meaning holes 17 and 18 are no more. Two new holes have been designed by Martin Ebert and they will be played as the 7th and 8th this week. This means we will finish up play on Sunday evening on the dog-legged 18th hole.

The Betting

Home favourite Rory McIlroy is the bookie’s favourite too, listed at 8/1 with Coral. The Co. Down man broke the course record here as 16-year-old, shooting a brilliant 61. He said last week that ‘winning at Portrush would be the highlight’ of his career. If he was in form it would be hard to bet against McIlroy. Notionally he should be in his prime but in reality it seems he has fallen away from the form that brought him The Open and the PGA Championship in 2014.

He finished tied for 34th at last week’s Scottish Open and it’s fair to say his putting was not up to scratch. A McIlroy victory would please the crowd but from a betting point of view, the smart money is going elsewhere. His propensity to slip away in crucial moments will leave the door open for challengers to enter.

The usual host of players join McIlroy at the top of the betting. Brooks Koepka is second favourite at 9/1 while Dustin Johnson and Irish Open winner, Jon Rahm, are both listed at 14/1 with Coral. Tiger Woods is 16/1, Justin Rose is 18/1 and last year’s champion Francesco Molinari is available at 22/1. Portrush golfer Graeme McDowell is listed at 80/1 with Bet365.

Selections

Patrick Cantlay

Cantlay finished T12 at Carnoustie last year in what was his Open debut and the 27-year-old American has gone from strength-to-strength since. His recent victory at the Memorial Tournament was the highlight of a seven tournament stretch of top 25 finishes. He has two top 10 major finishes to his name too. He finished T9 at Augusta and T3 at the U.S Open earlier this year.

The 2019 Open Championship at Royal Portrush looks to be the perfect setting for Cantlay to make his breakthrough as a major winner. Francesco Molinari went bogey free on Saturday and Sunday of last year’s Open on his way to victory and bogey avoidance is usually a good stat to study when making your picks for The Open. At just under 12%, Cantlay has the lowest percentage of bogeys made across the whole PGA Tour in 2019.

Don’t be surprised if he is in the final pairing on Sunday evening. He’s available to back at 30/1 with Bet365.

Jon Rahm

There’s no sugarcoating the fact that Jon Rahm has a poor record at The Open. His best finish to date has been T44 in 2017 and he missed the cut last year at Carnoustie. He has said himself that his performances in this championship haven’t been as good as they should have been. However, Rahm has proven two things in his short professional career – one, he can perform at the majors and two, he is a very capable links player.

The Spaniard has recorded top five finishes at the Masters, the US Open and the PGA Championship. He has shown his prowess on the links by winning the Irish Open twice in the last three years. His 2017 victory came at the nearby Portstewart course and his most recent triumph was at Lahinch, a similar course to this week’s Dunluce Links. He’s one of the form players at this year’s Open and we’re backing him to win at 16/1 with Bet365.

Shane Lowry

Lowry is having a good season by all accounts. The Irishman began 2019 with a victory in the Abu Dhabi Championship and he has had a slew of top-20 finishes since. He finished T28 at U.S Open and T8 at the PGA Championship. Sandwiched in between was a 2nd Place finish at the Canadian Open behind Rory McIlroy.

His best finish to date at The Open was a T9 in 2014 and he has missed the cut in the four years following which doesn’t bode well. Having said that, he has form on the links. He won the North of Ireland Championship as an amateur in Portrush and he was only the third amateur to win a professional European Tour event when he won the Irish Open at Baltray back in 2009. Lowry is a good each way bet at 70/1 with Bet365.

The Open Betting with Bet365

Rory McIlroy 9/1

Brooks Koepka 10/1

Dustin Johnson 16/1

Jon Rahm 16/1

Tiger Woods 20/1

Justin Rose 22/1

Xander Schauffele 25/1

Henrik Stenson 28/1

Francesco Molinari 28/1

Adam Scott 28/1

Patrick Cantlay 30/1

Selected Others

Sergio Garcia 66/1

Matthew Fitzpatrick 66/1

Shane Lowry 70/1

Graeme McDowell 80/1

Phil Mickelson 100/1

Jazz Janewattananond 300/1

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