British Open Preview and Picks

British Open Preview and Picks
Thur. July 16 Sun. July 19, 2009
Turnberry Ayrshire, Scotland
Televised: TNT/ABC

by Matt of

The third Major event of the PGA season is here as the British Open welcomes the best in the world of golf to Turnberry in Scotland. The Open is dripping with tradition and history and is one of the most unique events to watch of the entire season. The links style courses coupled with the unpredictable weather present a challenge that is hard to duplicate anywhere around the world. Padraig Harrington has hoisted the last two Claret Jugs, stopping a two year run that Tiger put together in 2005 and 2006. Like any Major Championship, the field is very strong and sure to produce some fantastic story lines. TNT has the early rounds with ABC broadcasting the weekend.

The 2009 Open will be the fourth hosted by Turnberry with the first coming in 1977 and the most recent in 1994. The winners at Turnberry have been hall of fame caliber players as Tom Watson, Greg Norman and Nick Price have prevailed here. The par-70 track will measure 7,204 yards this week, about 250 yards longer than it has played in the past. Over half of the additional yardage comes in the last three holes, and several tees have been moved to alter hole shapes and increase difficulty. One big difference from links golf to American style is the pace of the greens. The U.S. Open and Masters often have the fastest greens that the players will see, but the British Opens greens will putt much slower. It may not be any easier to make birdies, but average putters should be able to net easy pars if they can navigate from tee to green. Links golf requires a ton of imagination as few shots are straightforward and the players that fare well usually have every shot in the book.

Each week, we take a look at the golf sportsbooks and highlight a few players that we like to win the event. Well make a short, middle and long odds selection and let you know what they have what it takes to contend. Here are our picks to win the 2009 British Open. Odds courtesy of the board at

Short Favorite: Henrik Stenson (25 to 1 to win)
Stenson proved he could get it done against the best when he won THE PLAYERS Championship this year and hes been in the top-10 in two more of his six finishes. Henrik is 25th in fairways hit which always plays good at any Major, and his 64% greens hit mark is above average. On simple average, Stenson ranks a mediocre 128th in putting, but makes the ones that count, ranking 15th in putts holed from 5 to 15 feet.

Middle of the Road: Ian Poulter (25 to 1)
Poulter is moving into that group of players marked best not to win a Major, but he might shed that label this week. Ian has the confidence to win anywhere and his 2nd at the PLAYERS was a good test for where his game is at. Poulter has a strong overall stat sheet that nets the 16th best scoring average on Tour and his 2nd rank in scrambling will come in handy when the weather makes it tough to hit the greens. Like Stenson, Poulter turns an average overall putter into a clutch one with a top-30 rank in the 5 to 10 and 10 to 15 foot range.

Longshot: Camilo Villegas (50 to 1)
Its nice to have a player that caliber of Camilo this far down the list as hes proven he can hang when the best fields are present. Villegas has two top-10s in this years WGC events that invite only the top players and he finished T13 at the Masters. Camilo is a good combo of length and accuracy, ranking 36th in overall driving and follows that up with the 8th best GIR%. Solid in all phases, Villegas is 20th in birdies per 18 and ranks 14th in the Tours all around category.

* Tiger is a massive favorite everywhere, typically 2 to 1 at most sportsbooks, with a number of players in the 20 to 1 range listed after. We almost never pick Tiger from a value perspective, but this is a good week to take Woods as a hedge along with the others youd like to pay big.

Were a bit early for head to head matches, but there will be plenty to bet on once we get to next week. In general, the Euro players are much more adapted to the style of play necessary to do well overseas, so you can give them a leg up in most matches. Control players like Robert Allenby, Jim Furyk and Tim Clark are good bets to stay in matches by limiting the big mistake, and the bombers can pay this week as most links courses have a lot of risk/reward opportunitiesjust watch the weather.

Good Luck!