Steve Rawlings takes a look at the local challengers at this week's Open Championship at Royal Birkdale...
“This is a very competitive market but with five places on offer, one player that it might pay to follow at a huge price is 66/1 chance, David Horsey.“
Three of the first four in the Top GB & Ireland market are English - Justin Rose, Tommy Fleetwood and Paul Casey - but it's now 25 years since an Englishman won the Open Championship so we perhaps shouldn't expect too much from Rose, Casey, Fleetwood and their fellow compatriots, even if one of them, Fleetwood, is playing very close to home.
Lee Westwood was a distant second to Louis Oosthuizen at St Andrews back in 2010 and Ian Poulter chased home Padraig Harrington here at this year's venue, Royal Birkdale, two years earlier, but that's as close as any Englishman has come to getting their hands on the Claret jug since Sir Nick Faldo won it for a third time way back in 1992.
I'm not so hot on Casey, who tends to throw away golden chances to win in much smaller events than this but Rose and Fleetwood have very strong claims and they're hard to oppose.
Incredibly, given what a huge talent he is, and given he's a great links player, Justin's best performance in an Open Championship remains his tied fourth as an amateur way back in 1998, courtesy of this brilliant shot at the 72nd hole.
Already a US Open and Olympic Champion, I'd love to see him add Open Champion to his CV. He's one of the sport's unsung heroes for me and I'll never forget how gracious he was in defeat at Augusta in the spring. Not playing last week is a bit of a negative but he played well on the links at Portstewart two weeks ago and if he can get his putter to work (always the biggest issue with Justin) he could very easily end the wait for English success.
A number of shrewd punters are holding fancy positions on Southport's very own Tommy Fleetwood and after hitting a low of 22.021/1, he's drifted out to a much more appealing 28.027/1 for no reason at all. After his brilliance at the US Open, where he finished fourth, a respectable sixth in Germany just seven days later, victory in the Open de France and a very fair 10th in Ireland two weeks ago, Fleetwood is one of the hottest golfers in the field. It's hard to envisage Fleetwood not contending but I just wonder whether strong home expectations might pile on a bit too much pressure.
This is a very competitive market but with five places on offer, one player that it might pay to follow at a huge price is 66/1 chance, David Horsey. He has a nice straight game off the tee which should be a big plus this week and he's a decent enough links player. Surprisingly, this is the first time he's teed it up in an Open since he finished 67th here in 2008 so he'll be relishing the opportunity to fare much better now he's a four-time winner on the European Tour and I think he might just surprise a few.
Rory McIlroy is the only other player trading at a single figure price in this market as he bids to become the fifth Irish winner in just 11 years. He won the tournament in 2014, three years after Darren Clarke, and Padraig Harrington won here at Birkdale in 2008, 12 months after he's won at Carnoustie.
Rory may be the joint favourite with the Sportsbook but I think he's opposable. He looks vulnerable to even make the cut (which I've looked at in detail here) and I wouldn't put anyone off taking him on in the Top Irish Market at around even money either.
David Horsey each-way at 66/1 (Sportsbook)
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