Big outsiders get into contention at almost every Open Championship, winning three of the last four and falling just short on several other occasions. If you back an outsider, they don't actually need to win to ensure a profit on Betfair, as you can lay them once the odds shorten. See for example the following trading plan...
Don't be deterred from trading outsiders just because all previous winners at Muirfield were among the favourites. When Ernie Els won the last Open here in 2002, three huge outsiders were matched at short prices when making the play-off. Gary Evans, a 1000.0n/a non-winner, traded short before famously messing up the 17th. Moreover, just look at some of more recent Opens. 2011 champ Darren Clarke started at 250.0249/1, Louis Oosthuizen 600.0599/1 a year earlier and in 2009, Stewart Cink 300.0299/1 beat 1000.0n/a chance Tom Watson in a play-off.
The penalties for waywardness at Muirfield are lethal, so steady players hitting fairways and greens will be making progress. The set-up strikes me as ideal for Jim Furyk, a man who knows how to get round a tough links course. He's made the top-five in this major on four previous occasions and showed he's still a force at this level by very nearly winning the US Open and WGC-Bridgestone last summer. Granted recent form is disappointing, but there are snippets such as third place in the Texas Open. By contrast, Furyk was a third of these odds at the US Open.
Next, I'm following Steve Rawlings in with Miko Ilonen at 200.0199/1. These odds are frankly an insult to the European Tour, on which Ilonen has won and twice been runner-up in recent months. His Open record is highly encouraging as well. Notably Miko's two best results from four tries in this major, finishing 16th at Hoylake and ninth at Lytham in 2001, came in 'good weather Opens' with firm, fast conditions.
Both Tom Watson and Greg Norman demonstrated in recent Opens that legends can win this major well into their fifties, so don't write off Fred Couples at 400.0399/1. One of the best links players never to win an Open, registering nine top-tens in 16 appearances, Couples proved he's still competitive at this level by finishing top-13 in the last two Masters. This will be first Open for seven years, but notably he came over to Scotland and won last year's Seniors British Open.
Finally at massive odds of 740.0739/1, Gregory Bourdy is fancied to emulate compatriots Thomas Levet and Jean Van de Velde with a big run at the Open. On this narrow, tough course, it can only be a plus that Bourdy has hit 70% of fairways in every event since March, and over 70% of greens in regulation in nine of his last 13 starts. He made all three previous Open cuts and has bits of pieces of form in Scotland and Ireland. As a three-time European Tour winner, Bourdy is no less likely than numerous outsiders to contend in recent Opens.
The trading advice is to stake six units on our quartet, then place two lay orders on each player at 16.015/1 and 3.02/1. If any of them just hits the first target, we'll be guaranteed a minimum of nine units profit.
Updated 2013 Stats: +30.5 units