Open Championship Three Ball Tips: A quintet of bets for the opening round

Golfer Ian Poulter
Ian Poulter's links pedigree is vastly superior to his playing partners
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Check out Paul Krishnamurty's best five selections from the opening day's three-ball coupon...

"Furyk may not need do all that much to win this group...He's finished top-five in this major five times and, as we saw at Sawgrass, can still compete at this level."

Back Jim Furyk 4u @ [2.48] (vs Walker, Kim) (Starts 10.31)

Back Eddie Pepperell 4u @ [2.82] (vs Cabrera-Bello, Watson) (Starts 07.41)

In keeping with a tried and trusted strategy, the general plan for three-balls involves identifying players to oppose under the specific conditions. In this case, Bubba Watson. He's never made an Open top-20, missed half the cuts, in poor form.

While he's near the top of my oppose list, Pepperell is among my favourites. As laid in my player guide, Eddie has a stack of top-class form on links courses. He's also Joe Dyer's each-way pick. The third man Cabrera-Bello is respected and the danger.

Back Ian Poulter 4u @ [2.46] (vs Aphibarnrat, Im) (Starts 09.03)

Aphibarnrat is another with an atrocious record, at least outside the Dunhill Links birdie-fest. In this, the Scottish and Irish Opens, he's missed 12 cuts out of 15. Sung-Jae Im's PGA Tour form warrants respect but this is his first European outing and therefore sighting of a true links as a pro.

Poulter may not need anything special to win this group. In stark contrast to both, he has both vast links experience and prowess, twice finishing top-three in this major. A warm-up 14th in Scotland is encouraging enough.

Back Jim Furyk 4u @ [2.48] (vs Walker, Kim) (Starts 10.31)

Furyk remains as reliable as ever at the age of 49 and again, may not need do all that much to win this group. Si-Woo Kim has missed nine of his last ten cuts and is making his European debut. Walker has a couple of top-30s from his six Open attempts, but hasn't been anywhere near his best for ages.

Plus I reckon Portrush is very suitable for accurate Furyk - adept at keeping out of trouble and scrambling well. He's finished top-five in this major five times and, as we saw at Sawgrass, can still compete at this level.

Back Adri Arnaus 4u @ [2.4] (vs Dahmen, Papadatos) (Starts 11.58)

This trio are all debutants, about whom I would have considerably different expectations. Solid PGA Tour player Dahmen has never played links golf so making the cut would be an achievement. Papadatos would be delighted, having missed six of his last seven cuts.

Arnaus, in contrast, is fast emerging as a star rookie. He fared well on links last time out when 15th in Ireland, following second place at Valderrama. Earlier he'd recorded a trio of top-30s during the Gulf Swing - the best of which came in Qatar, which correlates well with links.

Back Justin Harding 3u @ [2.7] (vs Reavie, Lawrie) (Starts 13.48)

One favourite I'm happy to take on is Chez Reavie, who is priced on a brilliant fortnight at the US Open and Travelers Championship rather than any obvious links credentials. He missed both previous Open cuts.

Once upon a time, Paul Lawrie would have been just the ticket for a windy Open but there's nothing from his seniors form to imply he can still cut it at this level. Harding's form has gone off the boil since a brilliant 12th at the Masters but his bogey avoidance skills should ensure a respectable target.


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