The third major of the golfing season is just around the corner, the oldest of them all, the Open Championship.
This year it is being played at Royal Birkdale, in Southport, just north of Liverpool. The last time this tournament was held here Padraig Harrington triumphed, becoming the first European to win at this venue. Previous champions here include the American greats Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino and Tom Watson.
The reigning champion is Swede Henrik Stenson, who triumphed so spectacularly at Royal Troon last year.
Leading the betting are Americans Dustin Johnson and Jordan Speith, but with some rain and wind predicted for most of the tournament we are more inclined to go for players who have shown previous aptitude in these conditions.
Spaniard Sergio Garcia got his no majors monkey off his back at the Masters in April, and has been playing very well. He has been runner up at the Open twice, in 2007 and 2014, as well as recording numerous top 10s.
Adam Scott also has the Masters as his only major, but has been very close to an Open win. His last five attempts include a second, a tied third, a tied fifth and a tied 10th. We think the Australian will go close again, and is worth a two point bet.
Both these players are teeing off in the afternoon on Thursday, and we want a couple of morning picks to balance out the potential weather variations.
Veteran Steve Stricker tees off before 8am and is in prime form, closing the John Deere Classic on Sunday with a 64. He finished fourth last year at Troon, and has the calm mindset to cope with the tricky links conditions.
Past Birkdale champion Padraig Harrington has emerged from the golfing wilderness with a bizarre Happy Gilmore swing further cementing the veteran Dubliner’s place in golf’s weird genius Hall of Fame. The quirky action has propelled him into contention both in Ireland and Scotland over the last two weeks, and with a proven, albeit dusty, track record, he could contend again this year.
Skybet are offering an extraordinary 10 places each way, although often at tighter prices. It looks worth throwing a few small darts at the extravagant prices given the room on the payout podium.
Xander Schauffele broke his duck on the PGA Tour two weeks ago, having shown up well at the US Open. He may not have much links golf experience, but he is a young golfer on a roll, and who knows how high he might rise in the future.
Ryan Fox has been in superb form through the French, Irish and Scottish Opens, the last two on links courses. He is worth following whilst in such red hot form.
Adam Scott, 1pt each way, 28/1, Betfred, Ladbrokes, 1/4 top 6.
Sergio Garcia, 1pt win, 20/1, Betfred, Ladbrokes
Padraig Harrington, 0.5pts each way, 66/1, Coral 1/5 top 8
Steve Stricker, 0.5pts each way, 125/1, Coral 1/5 top 8
Xander Schauffele, 0.25pts each way, 200/1, Skybet 1/5 top 10
Ryan Fox, 0.25pts each way, 200/1, Coral 1/5 top 8
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