The Open

Open Championship 2023 Each-Way Tips: Morikawa can be Hoylake hero

American Collin Morikawa
Dave says this is the right time to catch Collin Morikawa

The Open heads back to England and Dave Tindall - who came within one shot of a 66/1 winner at the Scottish Open - has three bets to challenge for glory at Hoylake...

  • 28/129.00 Collin Morikawa can bid for a second Open title

  • 22/123.00 Rickie Fowler has course and current form

  • 50/151.00 Justin Rose is a winner this year with strong stats

After a six-year drought since hosting three Opens between 2012 and 2017, golf fans in the north-west of England get a close-up view of the Claret Jug again as the tournament returns to Hoylake.

Founded in 1869, the course also known as Royal Liverpool has staged a dozen previous Opens although only two since The Beatles split up.

Tiger Woods famously kept his driver in the bag and relied on a brilliant long-iron game to win in dry, fast-running conditions in 2006.

And nine years ago - my how time flies - Rory McIlroy held of the field to win his first and so far only Claret Jug.

Woods shot 18-under and McIlroy 17-under. Only St Andrews (twice) and Royal Troon have yielded lower winning scores this century.

It's a fair guess to think 'the number' will be lower this year. Not because of the weather but more due to the course being played as a par 71 not a 72.

Those who remember the Woods and McIlroy triumphs will also note a change to the finish.

A brand new hole called Little Eye has been introduced at 17 and could be a cracker: a par three measuring only 134 yards but with danger lurking at all sides.

And the closer - a Par 5 that looks intimidating from the tree - has potential for a range of scores.

After denying our 66/1 headline pick Robert MacIntyre at the Scottish Open with a brilliant birdie-birdie finish, McIlroy's position at the front of the betting has hardened.

He leads the way at 11/2 (12 places) with Scottie Scheffler 6/1. To be honest, would it be the biggest surprise if those two fought the finish out?

Rory, as well as his win here in 2014, has current form of: 1-7-2-9-7-7.

Scheffler has the astonishing finishing positions of 3-4-3-3-3-2-5 and hasn't placed outside the top 12 in the calendar year of 2023. That's 16 starts! Remarkable.

But single-figure prices aren't of interest in an each-way preview like this so let's crack on with the bets that do take my eye.

Collin Morikawa (10 places) @ 28/129.00

Tiger was landing his 11th Major when lifting the Claret Jug at Hoylake in 2006. Rory McIlroy's 2014 triumph here was his third.

There's logic therefore in picking a proven winner at this level and Collin Morikawa very much fits the bill.

Some players take to the Majors like a duck to water and Morikawa is very much in that camp.

He captured the US PGA on just his third Major start in 2020 and in 2021 he added this trophy at Royal St George's on his Open debut. Both are pretty remarkable feats.

Morikawa had two further top fives in Majors in 2022 while this year, despite some struggles, he's finished 10th at Augusta, 26th at the US PGA and 14th in the US Open.

While conditions won't be bone hard like they were in 2006, Hoylake is still a course where accuracy off the tee and long iron play are key weapons.

And that very much plays into the hands of Morikawa. The Californian ranks 19th for Strokes Gained: Off The Tee this season (his fifth place in Driving Accuracy showing what's doing the heavy lifting) and he's 2nd for Strokes Gained: Approach.

After some back issues which contributed to a bit of a mid-season slump - notably his best three results in that nine-tournament stretch all came in Majors - Morikawa has found his mojo again.

After a top 15 in June's US Open, his one start in July saw him finish runner-up at the Rocket Mortgage Classic after losing a playoff.

His comments after that near miss were certainly worth putting in the notebook.

"This is kind of how the golf I wanted to play. It's kind of the old Collin hopefully back, just knowing that we're going to keep it in front of myself, give myself some looks, and when putts go in and shots are a little closer we have days like today.

"It will be exciting heading to The Open. I'm going to take Scottish off, I just haven't played in the last two years well there, so we're going to get a little more links prep out there."

It's well known that, historically, Morikawa can putt well on any given week but often the shortstick can hold him back.

But he's now recorded positive Strokes Gained: Putting numbers in his last four events while also gaining strokes on the greens in each of the three Majors this year.

With a weather forecast suggesting nothing too extreme, Morikawa is capable of getting to the 15-under mark that won him the Claret Jug at Royal St George's and which could be the magic number again here.

With 8, 10 and 12 each-way place terms, I'll take the 28s on the middle of those options.

Back Collin Morikawa each way (10 places) @ 28/129.00

Bet now

Rickie Fowler (10 places) @ 22/123.00

Patrick Cantlay came close to being a tip from those in the popular bracket between 20/1 and 28/1.

For all the accusations that he's no good in Majors, the World No.4 has made the top 15 in each of the last five, finishing eighth at St Andrews last summer.

But whereas I still have a lack of trust in Cantlay at this very highest level, I don't have those same concerns of Rickie Fowler.

Fowler achieved the extremely rare feat of finishing in the top five in all four Majors in 2014 and that included a tied second place here at Hoylake.

He's sprinkled plenty more good finishes since then despite a fall down the world rankings that meant he didn't qualify for any of the last three US Masters and also missed this event at St Andrews last year.

But since returning to Butch Harmon, Fowler has been a revelation in 2023 and his best golf has returned.

He made the top five in last month's US Open after contending heavily for the first three days and equalling the lowest round in Majors history when firing an opening 62.

And since then he's returned to the winner's circle by capturing the Rocket Mortgage Classic in a playoff. That was his first victory for four years.

Although that came in a fairly low-key event, let's remind ourselves that Fowler has won big tournaments. He has victories in the Wells Fargo Championship, The Players Championship, the Honda Classic, the Phoenix Open, the Scottish Open (also on a links) and the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Adding to his appeal is a robust set of of stats that should stand the former Oklahoma State star in good stead.

Fowler is 8th Tee To Green, 7th for Approach, 17th Around The Green, 31st in Putting, 21st for Total Driving and 6th in Birdie Average.

Forget the modest display in Scotland. That can be viewed as getting 72 holes of links golf under his belt in preparation for the big one.

Now 34 and a Dad of a 20-month old daughter, Fowler has the experience and life perspective to get his first Major.

Back Rickie Fowler each way (10 places) @ 22/123.00

Bet now

Justin Rose (10 places) @ 50/151.00

I'm already invested in Justin Rose this week after he came top in my 10-year trends preview.

But, at the prices - Rose is 50/1 with 10 places on offer or 55s for 8 - I simply have to back him again here.

As well as ticking trends boxes, I think Hoylake really suits him too.

Rose, the 2013 US Open champion, admits his best chance of a second Major is probably the Open where lack of length isn't a hindrance.

And as he's a straight hitter rather than a long one, this could represent an ideal opportunity.

The Englishman is 31st in Driving Accuracy this season but way down the Driving Distance charts.

And some of his other numbers are excellent: 17th for Approach, 20th Around The Green, 33rd Putting. And if you want an elite bunker player, Rose ranks 1st in Sand Saves on the PGA Tour this season.

That all looks a good recipe for this course.

The 42-year-old didn't play here in 2006 but in 2014 he was 12th with 18 holes to go before finishing tied 23rd.

That got his Open record back on track after he'd missed three of the previous four cuts, perhaps a result of Americanizing his game for the PGA Tour.

Since that top 25 at Hoylake, his Open record has improved dramatically with second place at Carnoustie, sixth at St Andrews and 20th at Portrush.

With age comes guile and perhaps Rose is now better equipped to win an Open than he ever has been.

Like Fowler, he got the winning feeling back again with victory at coastal Pebble Beach earlier this year and in recent months he's posted fourth in the British Masters at the Belfry, eighth in the Canadian Open and ninth in the US PGA Championship.

I'm overlooking last week's missed cut at the Scottish Open as he shot a pair of 70s (nothing wrong with that) and it allowed him to go off and play some links golf elsewhere (he was spotted at North Berwick).

Unlike others at 50s and a bit more, Rose can genuinely win this. I want to be on him if he does.

Back Justin Rose each way (10 places) @ 50/151.00

Bet now

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