Open Championship 2017: A quintet of three-ball picks to kick off the Open

Deadly accurate Francesco Molinari looks a good bet to win his first round 3-ball
Deadly accurate Francesco Molinari looks a good bet to win his first round 3-ball

Paul Krishnamurty has scoured the opening round three-ball coupon for Royal Birkdale and recommends five bets - none of whom are favourites to win their groups...


"Another group which will probably take very little to win. Whilst John Daly is the big name, he must be opposed having only twice made the Open top-40 since winning in 1995...Of these two little known opponents, preference is for the debutant Scottish amateur over journeyman Aussie Adam Bland, who missed both previous Open cuts."

Back Connor Syme 3u @ 3.55/2 (vs Daly, Bland) (Starts 11.47)

Back Paul Broadhurst 3u @ 4.216/5 (vs Jaidee, Castro) (Starts 07.08)

Let's kick off our in-play Open betting in the fourth group out, where the outsider of three represents the best value bet of day one. It may not take much winning. Roberto Castro has missed 13 of 19 cuts this term and shot 74/81 in his sole Open attempt. Thongchai Jaidee's best result in his last seven starts is just 48th and he's only twice ever made the top-30 in this major.

Alternatively, Broadhurst is the reigning Seniors Open champion and a renowned master of windy conditions. He's not setting the Champions Tour alight but finished a respectable 12th in the US Seniors Open on his penultimate start. Birkdale isn't a layout that notably penalises shorter-hitters so there's no reason why he can't perform respectably.


Back Henrik Stenson 3u @ 2.77/4 (Spieth, Kim) (Starts 09.47)

This tee-time is famous for being the first marquee group in Opens and this year is no exception. As explained in recommending Stenson for finishing positions targets, I'm confident the defending champion will set a high standard and contend.

In Spieth, the Swede is up against one of the few market leaders I'm happy to take on. The world number three has produced three very ordinary Opens from four. The exception, when fourth at St Andrews, is a dubious guide as a wet course yielded target golf conditions. Birkdale is a very different test and Jordan will need to be much less erratic off the tee than of late.

The outsider Si-Woo Kim is obviously talented and brought his A-game to the Players and US Open, but is very inconsistent. This Open debut will be an extremely tough challenge.


Back Connor Syme 3u @ 3.55/2 (vs Daly, Bland) (Starts 11.47)

Another group which will probably take very little to win. While John Daly is the big name, he must be opposed having only twice made the Open top-40 since winning in 1995. His four previous rounds at Birkdale were 80/89/73/78 and, although he won recently on the Champions Tour, 'Wild Thing' remains as inaccurate as ever.

Of these two little known opponents, preference is for the debutant Scottish amateur over journeyman Aussie Adam Bland, who missed both previous Open cuts. Amateurs often contend early in this major and an apparently impressive performance in the Dunhill Links two years ago reads promisingly. 22 year-old Syme has a decent junior and amateur pedigree.


Back Callum Shinkwin 3u @ 3.55/2 (vs Haas, Smith) (Starts 12.20)

One never knows how a brilliant youngster will react to a bitter disappointment but, if Shinkwin takes the positives out of Sunday's near-miss in the Scottish Open, he is an interesting betting proposition this week at huge odds. This top prospect clearly loves links golf.

Haas is the class act in the group but clearly beatable on the basis of an ordinary Open record. Smith - a youngster I have plenty of time for - has struggled badly in recent weeks and is making his Open debut.


Back Francesco Molinari 3u @ 3.39/4 (vs Mickelson, Leishman) (Starts 15.10)

Finally another outsider of three. Ultra-accurate Molinari is very much on my watchlist this week and is recommended as a banker for a top-40 finish. He's enjoying a good year and should like Birkdale. This is a tough group but not beyond him.

Mickelson has improved his links skills more than anyone in recent times but I doubt Birkdale is his ideal venue. His average score from eight past rounds here is 75.25 and his driving accuracy stats on this year's PGA Tour do not bode well. Leishman - runner-up at St Andrews and fifth at Hoylake - may prove the tougher opponent.


Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty

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