The Open Best Brits to Back: Keep your Hatton on Tyrrell

Tyrrell Hatton golfer
Hatton loves the links

The Open is back at Royal St George's in Sandwich and Matt Cooper has three GB&I each-way selections with the Betfair Sportsbook paying 10 places...

"Back in 2016 he finished second in the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart and cooed: 'Links golf has been pretty good to me.'"

Tyrrell Hatton 1pt each-way @ 31.030/1

Main Bet: Tyrrell Hatton 1pt each-way @ 30/1

This week the column has been charged with finding the each way value among the Great Britain and Irish challenge and were this the period between 1969 and 1985 it would be a pretty desperate quest.

In fact, to be clutching a betting slip with the name of a home golfer on it in the 1970s was an exercise in futility akin to owning a British-made car and expecting the thing to pass its MOT test.

Thankfully, for both automobiles and bashers of ball, times change.

Sandy Lyle's triumph in 1985 was the first of five home-made victories in 15 years and, rumbling on into the 21st century, Irish and Northern Irish golfers have added yet more glory.

Can we foresee a repeat this week? Why not? There's seems to be no reason why there won't be at least one home golfer waking on Sunday morning having dreamed of success the night before.

It's also true that it's entirely possible to go seeking a big-priced outsider who can provide us with a fun run for our money.

Think of Justin Rose as an amateur in 1998, Gary Evans in 2002, Chris Wood in 2008 and 2009, Danny Willett in 2015, Andrew Johnston in 2016, Matthew Southgate in 2017, Eddie Pepperell in 2018, and Robert MacIntyre in 2019 - all made the top 10 and would have rewarded backers with a tasty profit under this week's place conditions.

But first, let's start near the head of the market and deal with the case of Tyrrell Hatton.

Back in 2016 he finished second in the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart and cooed: "Links golf has been pretty good to me the last few years."

It was true: he'd been tied fourth at Royal Aberdeen, T11th at Kennemer, tied fourth at Royal County Down and a quarter-finalist at Murcar Links.

Despite that, he'd somehow failed to make the cut at that stage of his career in either the Open (four failures) or the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship (two early departures).

He rectified the former a week later, with tied fifth at Royal Troon, prompting him to say: "I think my best performances are on links courses. I played a lot of it as an amateur and I've just taken that sort of into the pro ranks."

Two months after that he applied the jump leads to his Dunhill Links record by winning it and gushing: "Hopefully we can play links golf every week next year, that would be great."

It didn't happen, but he did successfully defend his Dunhill title and a year later he very nearly landed the hat-trick before finishing second.

He also finished tied ninth at Gullane, made the cut at Carnoustie, was T14th at The Renaissance, tied sixth at Royal Portrush and T15th back at the Dunhill.

It's a stellar linksland record and prompted his selection in last week's column. Alas, he only really caught fire in a final round 65, but I'm arguing we should stick with him.

Because, in addition to that long term excellence, he's finished tied second this year at links-like Congaree on the PGA Tour.

Furthermore, in the last 18 months he's won at Bay Hill in tough conditions, at the prestigious Wentworth in the BMW PGA Championship, and in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

I believe approach shots and short game especially will be key this week. Hatton ranks 11th on the PGA Tour for Strokes Gained Approach, 49th for Scrambling, fifth for Three Putt Avoidance and 14th for Putt Average.

Next Best: Aaron Rai 0.5pt each-way @ 250/1

Just the second pick this week and another Englishman - Aaron Rai.

The 26-year-old from Wolverhampton is a competitive novice on the course, but he's a thorough fellow and he's desperately keen to start making an impression beyond European Tour levels.

Therefore he took the time to visit Royal St George's last month in readiness for this week's challenge.

aaron rai pga.jpg

He first dropped a hint that he could play links golf when tied ninth at the 2018 Scottish Open hosted by Gullane and it all came good when he was an impressive winner of the same tournament at The Renaissance Club last October.

Moreover, two weeks later, he returned north of the border to landed tied third at Fairmont St Andrews in the Scottish Championship.

He lost form afterwards, but recorded T12th in the Irish Open ("best I've played all year") two weeks ago and he was a decent T35th on defence of his title last week.

He's recorded good Approach and Tee to Green stats in recent starts and he also putted excellently in the Irish Open.

In traditional stats, he's been arrow straight (top 10 last two starts for Driving Accuracy, 12th and 13th for Greens in Regulation) and scrambling superbly (ranking first and second).

A links winner, heading back to form, with course research under his belt, he's an outsider, but at this big a price? He could be our bolter.

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MATT'S 2021 P/L

Staked: 119pts
Returned: 157pts
P/L: +38pts

2020 P/L: -32pts

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