Understanding links golf is key
Favourites have a poor record at the Open
In-play and final round strategies
The Open Golf Championship presents a unique set of challenges for both golfers and punters alike.
There are 156 selections to choose from, and unlike the traditional Parkland golf tournaments, the Open Championship is played on a links course.
In contrast to the beautifully manicured greens of a Parkland course, links courses tend to have thicker roughs and breezes from the nearby coast. The game strategy changes substantially in this setting, with the course's structure often seeming unpredictable and unforgiving.
Understanding these differences can significantly influence betting decisions and present opportunities galore for Betfair users.
Big tournaments produce big winners
A fascinating aspect of the Open Championship is its frequent high-priced winners.
The average favourite has gone off at odds of around 10.09/1 in the last 20 years. Over the same period, the winner matched at average odds of over 150.0149/1. In the last 20 years, I've seen winners at 100, 140, 200, 490, 270, 150, 200 and 1000.
In contrast, outside of Tiger Woods in his prime, I've not seen a favourite win in the last two decades.
Capturing that value
Laying the favourite is a good strategy at The Open. The only thing that can upset this is if the favourite gets off to a fantastic start. So keeping an eye on the first few birdie chances can give you a clue as to whether this will happen.
In terms of catching a big-priced winner. Instead of picking one player to win or lose, a more strategic approach is to use the betting strategy called "dutching."
This method involves spreading your stake over multiple players, allowing for a potential profit regardless of which player within your selected group wins.
I have often mentioned this tactic across other tournaments, but it's incredibly effective at capturing value.
Finding a potential winner
Golf is a game of confidence, so players in good form will naturally be at shorter prices.
Younger players, with their powerful drives and long tee shots, might appear to have an advantage at first glance. However, the shorter nature of the links course and the tactical gameplay it demands can often tip the balance in favour of the older, more experienced players.
While younger players might outperform on a longer parkland course, an older, more seasoned player may shine on the links course of The Open. The stats back this up, and the average age of a winner at The Open over the last 20 years is 33. Compare this to the US Open, where it is under 28.
Hitting the fairway will be critical at Royal Liverpool, and Tiger Woods famously gave his driver and 5-wood the week off on his way to victory here in 2006. The focus should be on avoiding the tall rough, deep pot bunkers and penalty areas that surround most landing zones off the tee.
So if you are going to pick a range of players for dutching, pick some experienced players with good scrambling ability and a decent short game. Going for it with the driver is unlikely to be favourable.
If you fancy picking a big winner, I tend not to pick anything under odds of 100.099/1. I only expect to win sometimes using this strategy and odds, but do expect the payoff to be huge when you do.
Picking a winner from a field of 156 is tough, but finding a winning trade during the in-play period is much easier.
Before the cut, play is staggered to ensure all players get around the course, and groupings are mixed by skill level.
This is where the order of play and weather can be a crucial factor. If somebody shoots a good score, has finished their round, and is in the clubhouse. The remaining groups get a chance to chase down the leader.
If the weather were benign when the clubhouse leader was out on their round, their price would shorten even though they have finished their round. The opposite is also true.
Backing a clubhouse leader when they score a low round, in good conditions or laying them when better conditions prevail is a good trading strategy.
Similar effects occur on the front or back nine. So understanding wind direction and order of play is critical to a successful in-play trade.
Final day strategy
When we get to the final day, the leading players are scheduled to play alongside each other in order of score. So your trade will switch to whether you think the leader will be caught before they head up the 18th fairway.
I looked at all Open Championships since 1957 to see how often somebody caught a third-round leader on the find round.
A one-shot advantage is the most common situation going into the final round, and the leaders have managed to cling on for the title just 42% of the time when that happens. Curiously a two-shot lead looks more vulnerable, and they only close out 32% of the time. But four or more is far more comfortable, though rarer overall.
Laying that leader on the final day, especially with lively weather, can produce a great bet or trade.
The forecast for this weekend is looking lively at the moment. So that should, excuse the pun, scramble the opportunities for some of the favourites.
It should also bring into play additional opportunities for the latter rounds.
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