Punters can be forgiven for feeling a little daunted by the clustered marketplace this week. With 11 players within the 14/1 to 25/1 range, and links specialists all the way down to 300/1, picking a winner requires the skill of a seasoned industry tipster. It requires #moxeystips.
As the Open returns to Royal Birkdale nine years after Padraig Harrington doubled his Open tally with back-to-back wins, no player comes in with form which makes you look twice. Such a run of form isn’t, generally, overly important but three of the last four Open winners had won earlier in the season. The only one that didn’t, Henrik Stenson, came into last year’s edition off the back of a withdrawal and two missed cuts – “past performance is not an indicator of future performance” comes to mind.
So what are we looking for? It’s not rocket science. We need a seasoned winner who’s won or gone consistently close this year and has a good track record on links courses. Below are some of the players I think fit this billing – #moxeytips rating is based on value for money.
Rickie Fowler – 14/1
The man who ranks #1 in this season’s scoring average charts is an Open Champion in the making – it’s not a matter of “if” for the Oklahoma alumni. Having won the Honda Classic at the start of the season he’s gone on to notch a T11 at Augusta and T5 at the U.S. Open. Contending in majors is just what he does. The fact he hasn’t recorded more wins generally is concerning but given how open the tournament is this week, there’s no white hot Spieth, Day, McIlroy or Johnson to cement his place as bridesmaid, this could be Fowler’s best chance yet at securing a maiden major title.
I also like the fact that, as well as topping the scoring average charts, he’s #1 in sand saves. Part of me wonders “is he in a lot of bunkers because of poor approach shots?” but he ranks 8th in strokes gained for shots into the green. i.e. he doesn’t go in bunkers much but when he does he makes the up-and-down. This is crucial at any Open set-up. To add to all of this it’s not surprising that his three top 5’s in his last four PGA Tour events come at a time when he’s been more settled off the course – have a peek at his new girlfriend’s Instagram page.
Finally, the 28 year old has a good enough record on links courses to banish any cause of concern that he simply can’t replicate his game on this side of the pond: a 9th placed at last week’s Scottish Open adds to his 2015 triumph at the same event. He’s also recorded two top 5’s at the Open proper so don’t be surprised to see a major duck broken this week. #moxeystips rating: 8/10.
Justin Rose – 18/1
Rose returned a handsome profit for #moxeystips followers at The Masters but he hadn’t played much before his T4 in Ireland two weeks ago. In fact he missed the cut at the U.S. Open and could only muster a 63rd in the Players Championship, the “fifth major”. His only other event was the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth where he finished a respectable 12th. Negatives done and dusted, let’s look at why the Englishman will contend this week.
Firstly he won, famously, as a 17 year old, the Silver Medal for Low Amateur (T4) on this course in 1998. 11 years later, again at this Lancaster links, he finished in T13. These finishes, on this week’s course, compare to a wider average Open finish of somewhere between a missed cut and a Sunday morning round so early that he’s often half way to his Bahamas home by the time the Claret Jug is lifted aloft.
That being said, three Open top-25’s, including a T6 in 2015, in the last three seasons are indicative of the Englishman’s improved wider standing in the game. With memories of 1998 still flickering in his mind, if the now 36 year old ever wins an Open Championship it’ll surely be on this course. 18/1 is perhaps a little short though and the #moxeystips rating of 7/10 reflects this.
Hideki Matsuyama – 22/1
There really isn’t much to say about a man who lets his golf do the talking. The world number #2 has a PlayStation like iron game at times; if his putter is even lukewarm it would be a surprise if he didn’t record another strong major finish. A T2 at the recent U.S. Open was followed by a 14th place at the Irish Open, on a links course, two weeks ago. #moxeystips rating: 9/10.
Here’s a video of him talking about his Open chances:
“It will be a dream come true.”
— Srixon (@SrixonGolf) July 18, 2017
Tommy Fleetwood – 25/1
I was a bit surprised to see Fleetwood at 25/1 but his form really does warrant it. Since this time last year he’s catapulted himself 139 places up the world rankings to #14. Regarded as one of the best ball strikers in the game he seems to have found the consistency required to hold down a place among the top 30 or so golfers.
In terms of links records, he’s had top 15’s at the Alfred Dunhill Links in the last couple of seasons and finished T10 in Ireland a couple of weeks ago. In fact he comes in as arguably the game’s in form player, a solo 4th at the U.S. Open was followed by a 6th in Munich and a win in France. Ultimately it would be a surprise if he were to win here but a top 10 finish, at a course onto which he used to sneak as a local youngster, is well within firing range. #moxeystips rating: 6/10
Ian Poulter – 70/1
I don’t like Marmite – and Poulter’s that type of character – but no one ever beat the bookie by betting with their heart. After a lengthy injury lay off the Ryder Cup hero from, well, the last 10 years, has had a sneakily good return to form.
Ian Poulter’s bunker prep is going well 💯 pic.twitter.com/6zIqhsiFOR
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) July 18, 2017
I like that he played both the Irish and Scottish Opens in the lead up to this week – most opted for one or the other – and finishes of T42 and T9 respectively saw glimpses of a return to his best stuff. #moxeystips rating: 7/10
To qualify for a sought after #moxeystips outsider pick a player needs to have odds of over 100/1.
Soren Kjeldsen – 125/1 – Not entirely sure what the 2015 winner of the Irish Open is doing at these odds. A T9 at the Open last year and a 10th placed finish last week is good enough for me. #moxeytips rating: 8/10
Steve Stricker – 125/1 – There’s life in this old dog yet. Hardly plays these days but when he does he usually teaches today’s kids a thing or two. #moxeystips rating: 7/10
Ryan Fox – 150/1 – One of the top graduates from last season’s Challenge Tour – a kind of stepping stone to the European Tour – the Kiwi played himself into this week with two great 4th place finishes in the last two weeks. Both events had pretty tidy fields too. This is a step up but he’ll come into the week knowing he can contend with the best. 5/2 for a top-40 finish on betfair is good value. #moxeystips rating: 6/10
Matthew Southgate – 250/1 – Another man who has a really terrific links record. I was tempted to pick Shinkwin – who blew what was looking like a comfortable win on the 72nd hole last week – but Southgate has a couple of Open appearances already under his belt. That experience, which includes a T12 last year, will be invaluable. A missed cut last week after finishing T2 in Ireland isn’t the end of the world as it afforded him that extra bit of preparation time for this week. #moxeystips rating: 7/10
Top Amateur – Connor Syme (3/1)
Top Asian – Hideki Matsuyama (2.62)
Top French – Alex Levy (2.4)
Top Italian – Francesco Molinari (1.11)
Top Spaniard – Jon Rahm (2.37)
1st round threeballs – An, Kjeldsen, Stricker, Grace, Poulter, Harrington, Spieth, Southgate, Shinkwin, Fox, Cabrera-Bello, Li (30,166/1)
Rory McIlroy to miss the cut (3.5)