Open Championship Tips: Rahm can master the Dunluce Links

Ian Poulter
Ian Poulter is one of Dave's trio of each-way picks for the Open

The final Major of the season is upon us and Dave Tindall fancies a young Spaniard who has shone in Ireland previously to lift the Claret Jug...

"The 14/1 pays him plenty of respect but he comes in hot after a run of 3-2-1 (Pebble, Valderrama and Lahinch) on top-class courses."

Back Jon Rahm at 14/1

EW Terms: 1/5 Odds | 10 Places

Best Bet: Jon Rahm at 14/1

Jon Rahm has been an incredibly fast learner in his brief pro career but the one area where he didn't quite hit the ground running was the majors.

Whereas others have made an instant impact, the Spaniard didn't manage a top 20 in his first six. He talked of trying to find the right build-up both in terms of when to play and how to mentally get it right.

The 2018 Masters was his breakthrough as he finished fourth and it was a result he repeated in that summer's PGA Championship. After T9 at Augusta National this April, Rahm ramped it up with a tied third in the US Open at Pebble Beach to make it three top fours in his last seven majors.

It was always going to be when not if and now Rahm is a leaderboard regular in majors. Next step - a win.


While he's found the right formula in American majors, his Open record has yet to take flight - T49 at Royal Troon, T44 at Royal Birkdale and MC at Carnoustie.

And yet, don't think for a second that, having gone to college there, he can only cut it in America these days. In fact, it couldn't be further from the truth.

Starting from 2017, these are Rahm's result in tournaments played on European soil: 10-1-44-15-MC-1-5-4-MC-2-1. From 11 starts, that's three wins, three top fives and a further top 10.

Two of the victories came in the Irish Open (2017 and 2019), the first at nearby Portstewart (10 minutes away) and the second at Lahinch GC two weeks ago.

So, what better place than Ireland for Rahm to throw down his first serious bid for the Claret Jug?

The 24-year-old plans to eat in the same restaurant he did when taking victory at Portstewart so all the little extra comforts are in place for hopefully a repeat outcome.

The 14/1 pays him plenty of respect but he comes in hot after a run of 3-2-1 (Pebble, Valderrama and Lahinch) on top-class courses.

There are plenty of strong contenders at the top of the market but, in my eyes, Rahm is the one to beat.

Current form is a big thing for potential Open winners, with the last three and four of the last six posting a win in one of their previous two starts.

Rahm can add to that trend.

Next Best: Back Ian Poulter at 66/1

Rahm didn't come through my trends preview due to not playing last week.

Eight of the last 10 Open winners had teed it up the previous week although, with a win on his last start, I think in Rahm's case that overrides it - just as it did for Jordan Spieth who had posted a win at the Travelers Championship before resting up and then going on to take victory at Royal Birkdale.

But I am looking closely at last week's Scottish Open - even if The Renaissance Club was hardly a great links test.

There's plenty to pick but, with 10 payout places on offer, the one I like best is Ian Poulter at 66/1.

The Englishman was reeling off top 10s galore earlier this season, at one stage enjoying a run of 6-3-6-3, the latter coming in a top-class field in the WGC-Mexico.

A T12 at the Masters followed by T10 at Hilton Head kept the good run going but he then stalled, missing cuts at Bethpage and, more surprisingly, Pebble Beach although he did rack up an eight on the third in the second round and only missed by two.

Poulter pressed the reset button and has come back with two starts on the links, improving from tied 41st in the Irish Open to tied 14th in the Scottish.

After his top 15 in Scotland, Poulter reflected: "Decent week. Just a little warm under the collar, bogeying 17 from a position that I shouldn't really make bogey. It's the easiest pin on the course.

"I took care of the 5s today, and I didn't take care of them the rest of the week. So I think it's been one of those weeks where it was good; it was good prep for next week."

In Ireland, he gained 5.065 strokes on approach while in Scotland that figure was 3.840 so he's striking it nicely.

As a former Open runner-up (Royal Birkdale 2008), who also went T9 (Royal Lytham) and T3 (Muirfield) in 2012-2013, Poulter is a strong links performer.

He was T14 back at Birkdale two years ago and, with his game trending in the right direction again, the 66/1 looks a little inflated in light of those each-way terms.

Final Bet: Tyrrell Hatton at 70/1

I'm very keen on Matt Kuchar and Henrik Stenson this week and wouldn't put anyone off the two veterans. But their prices have contracted and I'm not over-excited about recommending them now at 28/1 and 25/1 respectively.

At the very front of the market, I think Rory McIlroy has a very obvious chance even though the pressure will be huge. If he wins, fantastic, and I won't really have any betting regrets.

But for a final bet I want to look a little further down the market and the one I stop on is Tyrrell Hatton.

For starters, there is links pedigree due to his back-to-back wins in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland.

Adding to that is a top four in the 2015 Irish Open on the famed links of Royal County Down in a tough week for scoring while his Scottish Open record since the tournament moved to links courses is now 4-22-2-MC-9-14.

"Game felt good the last 3 rounds... onto Portrush," he tweeted after his T14 in Scotland which featured scores of 66-64-67 from Friday to Sunday.

Hatton gained a whopping 9.564 strokes on approach at The Renaissance Club while he gained 5.324 in that same category when T21 in the US Open at Pebble Beach.

He already has four top 10s in the majors while he's made the cut in the last seven so he's certainly found his feet at the highest level.

We all know about the grumpy moods but he can laugh at himself too and this is a player who has reached No. 13 in the world.

Tied fifth in the 2016 Open at Royal Troon, I can see Hatton coming up with something similar and, who knows, perhaps a Sunday challenge.

Overall, he looks a nice price at 70/1 given the 10 each-way payout places.


Steve Rawlings and Dave Tindall got together to discuss the Open Championship in more detail:

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Dave's 2018/19 PGA Tour P/L (based on £5 ew per selection outrights, £10 win top 5s/10s)

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