Open Championship 2016: A quintet of three-ball tips for the opening round

Mark Calcavecchia's Troon record is outstanding
Mark Calcavecchia's Troon record is outstanding

Paul Krishnamurty has scoured the opening day three-ball coupon and provides his best five bets...

"I prefer Calc from a value perspective. We often see surprisingly strong starts from ex-champions in majors and the 1989 hero has a great course and links record."

Back Mark Calcavecchia 2u @ 4.216/5 (vs Leonard, Hamilton) (Starts 12.31)

Back Scott Gregory 5u @ 2.68/5 (vs Duval, Lyle) (Starts 07.08)

This very early group will be on few first round watchlists, but it stands out as the best value bet of the opening day. In fact, it could look unbelievable value with hindsight.

We are backing the 21-year-old British Amateur Champion to beat two former Open champions way past their best and highly unlikely to even make the cut. Amateurs often do well in The Open, (two were bang in contention through 54 holes last year), but Gregory may only need to better 75, even 80, to win this.

David Duval made his first Open cut in seven last year, and his third round 67 remains his only sub-70 since 2014. Veteran Lyle looks even weaker. Considering his links and wind pedigree, the 1986 champion's stack of missed cuts in this and the Seniors version reads very poorly.

Back Alex Noren 4u @ 2.26/5 (vs Bowditch, Chappell) (Starts 07.30)

The angle in this group is the presence of what seems like a complete no-hoper. Steven Bowditch's latest 72-hole score was +36 and his 12 rounds in these season's majors and WGC events average 80.

That leaves a choice between two in-form players. Noren won last week's Scottish Open, while Chappell was third in the WGC-Bridgestone - the latest near-miss after finishing runner-up at Bay Hill and Sawgrass. With the American making his Open debut, preference is for Noren, who is also tipped this week by Dan Geraghty in our each-way column.

Back Hideki Matsuyama 2u @ 3.613/5 (vs McIlroy, Watson) (Starts 09.36)

Probably the best early group, most eyes will be on Rory McIlroy, who stormed out of the gate en route to a runaway victory on his last appearance in 2014. However, as Steve Rawlings explains in opposing him for the Top Irish market, Rory is not bombproof by any means.

Nor is Bubba Watson, who is yet to make an Open top-20 in seven attempts. In contrast, Matsuyama took to links golf immediately, finishing sixth at Muirfield on debut in 2013 and making the top-20 last year. Prior to his last three results, the Japanese star was becoming a model of consistency.

Back Mark Calcavecchia 2u @ 4.216/5 (vs Leonard, Hamilton) (Starts 12.31)

Hopefully viewers will get to see a few shots from this fascinating group between the last three Royal Troon champions. The most recent, Todd Hamilton, looks the outsider for my money, having only once made the top-60 in 11 tries since, hitting just one sub-70 round.

Justin Leonard is well ahead on US form and does have a solid Open record, but only plays a limited campaign, so I prefer Calc from a value perspective. We often see surprisingly strong starts from ex-champions in majors and the 1989 hero has a great course and links record. He finished top-11 on both return visits to Troon, was ninth in this major as recently as 2012 and has a good record in the Seniors British Open.

Back Callum Shinkwin 4u @ 2.4 (Lombard, Evans) (Starts 16.16)

In the final group of the day, another bet on emerging prospect Callum Shinkwin, who also makes my Top 20 Portfolio and is Luke Moore's each-way pick. This youngster is in-form after top-nines in France and Scotland and striking the ball beautifully.

The latter performance shows he can play links and handle a bit of wind, whereas neither Zander Lombard or Ryan Evans have shown any pedigree yet for this sort of golf.

Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty

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