Open Championship 2019: Two-ball tips for the final round

Golfer Ernie Els
Ernie Els is always worth a bet in bad weather

Paul Krishnamurty analyses the final round at Royal Portrush and recommends his best four bets from the two-ball coupon...

"Ernie has defied expectations this week and may now get the bad weather in which he has always excelled. Bjerregaard, who came in off five straight missed cuts and hit a very poor round yesterday, makes absolutely no appeal."

Back Ernie Els 3u @ 15/82.9 (vs Bjerregaard) (Starts 10.17)

Following one of the great rounds in the history of this major, we are set for another sporting fairytale as the Open returns to Ireland for the first time since 1951. Buoyed on by an ecstatic home crowd, Shane Lowry broke away from the pack with a course record 63 and is now a mere 8/131.61 favourite to land his first major.

Lowry has been sensational throughout but yesterday's back-nine was off the scale. Birdies on three of the last four holes probably eliminated the hopes of all bar second-placed Tommy Fleetwood and the Englishman still has a four-shot deficit to overcome. It was a joy to watch if you are on or cheering from an Irish perspective, but grim viewing for those of us on alternatives.

Final Open rounds can produce dramatic change

Any experienced golf punter will tell you this is far from all over. A four-shot lead with 18 holes to go is never a done deal and, as Steve Rawlings explains in his update, Lowry lost a lead of this size at the 2016 US Open.

As he points out, the chasing back are certainly good enough to scare the leader if he wobbles. Crazy things can happen in final rounds. Paul Lawrie once won this major from ten back going into Sunday. At this stage two years ago, Haotong Li was trading at 1000.0 from twelve shots behind Jordan Spieth. He ended up third, having traded down to around 19/120.0 mid-round.

Brilliant Lowry nevertheless fancied to win easily

Nevertheless, I have no interest in taking Lowry on. Whilst he looked very nervy on Friday evening, he was enjoying it yesterday and thriving off the crowd. Generally he's got a solid temperament in contention so I do not expect a collapse.

Conditions will be much harder today, making it extremely difficult for any of the chasers to shoot a very low score. If Tommy Fleetwood doesn't make early headway, I could just as easily see Shane go on to win by six or seven amid delirious crowd scenes. I would much rather be a backer at 5/81.62 than a layer.

Personally, yesterday was a disaster and rightly so. I badly under-estimated both the front-two pre-tournament, based on links records that hadn't previously matched expectations. Neither has been on my betting radar throughout so there can be no complaints.

Whilst they are surely too far back to challenge, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that either Henrik Stenson or Matt Kuchar rescues my outright book by staying on to finish top-five. That is the best I can hope for so, rather than multiplying the damage, my final day plan is all about the two-balls.

Shinkwin to demonstrate liking for links

Back Callum Shinkwin 3u @ 2/13.0 (vs Furyk) (Starts 08.22)

First, a pick in keeping with my usual modus operandi over the weekend - an outsider with a big incentive. Shinkwin is highly capable - with much greater potential than seen to date - for whom a strong Open finish could turn around his season.

Shinkwin is known as a good links player and ball-striker. He threw away the 2017 Scottish Open on the final hole. Whilst Furyk has class and pedigree, he has been disappointing this week on a course that should have suited his style.

Ernie rates fair value against struggling Dane

Back Ernie Els 3u @ 15/82.9 (vs Bjerregaard) (Starts 10.17)

Despite a good start, Ernie came up a short for us yesterday as scoring conditions improve. He has nevertheless defied expectations this week and may now get the bad weather in which he has always excelled. Bjerregaard, who came in off five straight missed cuts and hit a very poor round yesterday, makes absolutely no appeal at heavy odds-on over 18 holes.

Back Mikko Korhonen 2u @ 14/53.8 (vs Johnson) (Starts 10.52)

Next another one-sided affair that might well be closer under these specific conditions. Dustin Johnson hasn't enjoyed a great Open by any means and makes no appeal with little obvious motivation for what will probably be a gruelling final round. Korhonen is very accurate, a multiple winner and perfectly capable of this upset.

Erratic Spieth to suffer in harder conditions

Back Henrik Stenson 5u @ 11/102.1 (vs Spieth) (Starts 12.57)

Despite playing well, it has been another frustrating week for Henrik Stenson involving hitting loads of greens in regulation without holing much at all. Yesterday's -3 was decent if nowhere near enough to keep up with the leaders' scoring.

Today's conditions should be more rewarding if he can maintain that long game excellence. In contrast Spieth remains highly erratic from tee to green and could be punished. In bad weather on this final day 12 months ago, he collapsed to 76.

Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty

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