It's been a long wait, but the the first major of the season is finally upon us, and with the Betfair Sportbook paying 10 places for each-way bets we've asked the betting.betfair golf team for their top tips...
"Phil's big finish on Sunday lifted him back into the world's top 50 after a slump but let's not forget that he had back-to-back top threes earlier this season in the Saudi International and Pebble Beach. Mickelson has 38 top 10s in majors and a 39th would come as no surprise."
EW Terms: 1/5 Odds | 10 Places
Dave Tindall: Back Phil Mickelson @ 80/1
Phil Mickelson has an extraordinary record in his native California so, after his return to form with tied second at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational on Sunday, the left-hander is worth chancing at 80/1. Interviewed after Saturday's 66, the five-time major winner said: "I'm having so much fun because I can feel my game turn around, I'm starting to play well again, I'm starting to putt well and starting to drive the ball well and it just feels good and I'm having fun." Typical Mickelson positive, sunshine guff? Well, no, as it's backed up by his numbers. He's ranked in the top 20 for SG: Off The Tee in the last two events while, last week, he recorded his best SG: Putting figures for nearly two years. That big finish on Sunday lifted him back into the world's top 50 after a slump but let's not forget that he had back-to-back top threes earlier this season in the Saudi International and Pebble Beach. Mickelson has 38 top 10s in majors and a 39th would come as no surprise.
Paul Krishnamurty: Back Erik Van Rooyen @ 150/1
Of course, this week's major champion is likely to be among the obvious, leading dozen or so in the betting. However, with ten places on offer for each-way bets, there is plenty of mileage in a long odds punt. There is much to like about Erik Van Rooyen's early career in Europe and the USA and nothing more so than his performances in the biggest events. Yesterday's top-20 at Southwind follows third in the previous World Golf Championship and the South African's early returns in majors are even better. He made his first four major cuts, finishing eighth on last year's PGA debut and top-20 in his first two Opens, contending for a long way in the first. This latter links form is particularly encouraging, given the likelihood of windy conditions this week.
Steve Rawlings: Back Louis Oosthuizen @ 66/1
The 2010 Open Champion, Louis Oosthuizen, who has also finished runner-up in all four major championships, looks to have hit form at just the right time again following his sixth-place finish in the FedEx St Jude Invitational on Sunday. He's long enough off the tee to contend should this develop into the big-hitters test I suspect it will and he won't mind the forecasted blustery conditions either. Louis won his group and knocked out Rickie Fowler in the WGC-Match Play held at this venue back in 2015, before losing to semi-finalist, Jim Furyk, so he also has some decent course experience to fall back on.
Joe Dyer: Back Tom Lewis @ 100/1
Based on previous Major evidence, it's a stretch to foresee this 100/1 outsider triumphing on the big stage but this is not a normal season and I think there is enough in the price to justify a punt with 10 places paid. Fundamentally, Lewis looks to have come of age at the top level. An 11th place at last year's Open marked his best major performance and in the same year he added a win at the Korn Ferry Championship. He has twice won on the European Tour, most recently in 2018, so we know he doesn't shy away from a shot at the trophy. Most importantly, Lewis has shown some impressive recent form with second place at the WGC event last weekend. Length off the tee is going to be a major weapon this week and he has stacks of that, so even if the win doesn't come the 20/1 for a place is a strong possibility.
Mike Norman: Back Tony Finau @ 33/1
As Steve alludes to in his superb in-depth preview, hitting the ball a long way off the tee promises to be a big advantage at TPC Harding Park this week. Big hitters have an excellent recent record in this major, and past evidence at this venue suggests siding with one of the power hitters is the way to go. Unfortunately the market seems to know this also, but at 33/1 Tony Finau seems well worth chancing. He's one of the longest hitters on the PGA Tour, so that's the most important box ticked, and crucially he's also been in fine form recently having finished eighth at the Memorial and T3 at the 3M Open. The 30-year-old has a big question mark over his ability 'to get the job done' but you sense that his time will come very shortly. And after recording 29 top-10 finishes since his last victory, there's every chance that his time will be this week at one of the biggest events on the calendar.