Any experienced gambler will tell you that luck evens itself over the long run, so let's hope last week's utterly frustrating Scottish Open was a precurser to something special. Not only was Paul Dunne matched at [15.5] - rather than his [15.0] target - but we had to watch shortlisted but excluded pair Ian Poulter and Callum Shinkwin bang in contention, trading way below the levels needed to bank a profit. Hopefully unlike me, some of you were on!
Moving forward to this week's Open Championship - I must start with a word of warning. Whilst this is historically a good major for backing outsiders, Royal Birkdale is probably not the perfect venue. None of the eight Open winners here were available at 100/1 or more and this leaderboard will likely be very high-class.
That said, Greg Norman traded short from [1000.0] in the last Birkdale Open in 2008, whilst play-off loser Brian Watts was 500/1 in the pre-Betfair days of 1998. All three of my picks not only fulfil the big odds criteria, but are rated as potentially world-class prospects who will probably one day be nowhere near these odds in majors.
Back Andy Sullivan 1.5 units each-way @ 100/1 (1/5 odds, 1-8 places)
First up, I'm reiterating earlier advice to back Andy Sullivan. The odds have shortened since from [210.0] but [150.0] still represents decent value. However an even better bet is to follow Joe Dyer in and back him each-way. The place part - 20/1 about a top-eight - really stands out.
Birkdale is a course that very much emphasises good driving - check out local lad Tommy Fleetwood's comments in Steve Rawlings' must-read tournament preview Driving is very much Sullivan's forte and the key to his performance. Amongst this field over the past three months, only Stenson and Fleetwood have a higher driving accuracy percentage on the European Tour.
We know Andy likes the Open challenge too after finishing 30th and 12th on his first two attempts, on less suitable tracks. A decent, if outside contention, ninth place at Dundonald may prove the perfect warm-up - slightly better than Henrik Stenson's 13th last year before winning at Troon.
Back Thorbjorn Olesen 2u @ [200.0]
Place order to lay 10u @ [20.0]
Place order to lay 15u @ [5.0]
This madly inconsistent Dane is precisely the type for a speculative huge odds bet. A four-time winner who has contended often during his relatively short career, but whose inconsistency generally means attractive odds. Olesen is a world-class prospect with bags of improvement to come.
He went on my list as a links specialist and potential Open champion when contending for a long way in ninth at nearby Lytham in 2012. Although he's failed on three subsequent visits, he's proved that links prowess by winning and finishing runner-up in the Dunhill Links, along with numerous good efforts in windy conditions. After top-four finishes in the Open de France and Nordea Masters, there's plenty in the recent formbook.
Back Ryan Fox 2u @ [280.0]
Place order to lay 8u @ [25.0]
Place order to lay 10u @ [10.0]
Place order to lay 15u @ [5.0]
Next another top prospect who I've been monitoring for years, about whom the market seems strangely dismissive of recent form. Fox earned his place with fourth place at the Irish Open, and he followed that with fourth at Dundonald - his third straight top-six and sixth straight top-30. He's hit 72% of greens in regulation over the past three months - precisely what is required at Birkdale.
This is only Fox's second Open appearance but we can easily overlook an ordinary 49th in the 2015 birdie-fest at St Andrews. The New Zealander has made rapid progress of late and proved his links prowess over the past fortnight. In any case, he's got plenty of form on firm, fast, wind-exposed Australian courses.
As usual, let's finish with a few words about some alternatives. The other pair alongside Sullivan in that earlier piece were Ross Fisher and Steve Stricker - both of whom have shortened significantly. I wouldn't deter anyone from taking the lower odds.
Bernd Wiesberger is another who I've had on my mind for this and other majors, but his odds have also shortened. And after flagging up Callum Shinkwin as a good links exponent a fortnight ago, the case was justified in Sunday's near-miss at Dundonald. If you think he'll react well to what must have been a bitter disappointment, odds of [320.0] are worth considering.