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  • 2019 Open Championship: Best bets at Royal Portrush

    2019 Open Championship: Best bets at Royal Portrush

    ESPN PLUS ($ MATERIAL)


    The 2019 Open Championship heads to Northern Ireland for the first time in 68 years, as countryman and favorite Rory McIlroy looks for his fifth major title. Who else offers some betting value?

    ESPN's Chris Fallica and Will Courchene from Data Golf give their value bets to win the title, tournament matchups they like and more in this betting guide.
    Chris Fallica's picks

    It's time for the final -- and my favorite -- major of the year, The Open. As it's being played at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland -- and there isn't much course history to speak of for many of the players -- it should be an exciting week of golf.

    Here are some players I'm looking at, as well as some trends on recent Open champs. Good luck this week! Contenders

    Rory McIlroy (8-1)

    As Rory himself said in The Guardian, "It's the same golf course I've grown up playing my whole life, and it's the same tournament that I haven't finished outside the top five for the last few years." I'll admit it, when I read that quote, I got more than a little excited. McIlroy is a confident, honest player who knows his past four trips to The Open resulted in a win, runner-up, fourth- and fifth-place finish. There is no self-inflicted pressure here. The scene will not be too big; in fact, he's embracing it all. He's the leader in Strokes Gained: Total and Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green. If he makes any putts and starts well, he'll lift the Claret Jug for a second time. He's never trailed by more than two shots after any round in any of his major wins. I'll play him every way possible this week.

    Adam Scott (33-1)

    I'm not sure Scott can win, but I'm definitely interested in looking at top-10/top-20 finishes, as well as his head-to-head matchups. He struggled with his game for a bit, but prior to that, he was in the top 10 each year from 2012-15 and then was 17th at Carnoustie last year. That has kicked off a stretch of strong play in majors, as he then finished third at the PGA, 18th at the Masters, eighth at Bethpage and seventh at Pebble. He's No. 3 on TOUR in Strokes Gained: Total and he's top 25 in Strokes Gained: Putting. I'm buying the career resurgence of one of the best ball strikers in the world.

    Patrick Cantlay (35-1)

    Cantlay was 12th at The Open last year and got his first true taste of major contention at the Masters this year. He then backed up a top 10 at Augusta with a T-3 finish at Bethpage. That made him a very trendy pick for the U.S. Open, but he could never get going and still finished T-21st. You'll probably get a little better price now because he finished outside the top 20 at Pebble Beach, but a look at Cantlay's season shows that finish at Pebble is the first time since March at THE PLAYERS that Cantlay has finished outside the top 20 in an individual stroke play event. In 14 such events, he's posted eight top-10 finishes. He's on the trust list for sure. Only McIlroy ranks higher than Cantlay in Strokes Gained: Total this year.

    Hideki Matsuyama (45-1)

    Since finishing T-6th in his first Open in 2013, he really hasn't contended here, missing the cut in two of the past three years. Putting has always been an issue for Matsuyama, but the slower greens here should help. And he's third on TOUR in Strokes Gained: tee-to-green. He's made every cut this year, so at the very least, you can bank on him being around on the weekend and backdooring the top 10 or 20. He's come into this event with very little fanfare, which might not be a bad thing.

    Matt Wallace (50-1)

    I had him at a huge number in the PGA Championship and he backed up that third-place finish at Bethpage with a top-12 showing at Pebble Beach. Between those majors, a second-place finish in Dubai and nearly repeating at the BMW, he's developing quite the habit for playing big in big events. And he still is overshadowed on the oddsboard by players like Tommy Fleetwood and Matsuyama. A year ago, Wallace was 76th in the world and now he enters the Open ranked 23rd. He'll make his presence felt again this weekend, and at the very least is worth a play in the top-10 markets.
    Longshot Plays (100-1 or longer)

    Haotong Li (150-1)

    He of the Sunday 63 -- and third-place finish at Birkdale in 2017 -- appeared headed for a top-10 finish last year before stumbling to a Sunday 76. He missed the cut last week, but prior to that, put together four rounds in the 60s in the Irish Open en route to a top-15 finish. Given he's shown his affinity for this event -- albeit in a small sample size -- he's worth a flier to finish in the top 20 or top 10, as well as an inexpensive DFS option.

    Abraham Ancer (200-1)

    It's just his fourth career major, but the accurate driver made the cut at both Bethpage and Pebble this year, finishing T-16th in the PGA and posting two rounds in the 60s at Pebble. He comes in playing well, finishing 19th at the Irish Open and eighth at Travelers. Another option to potentially consider at a price in matchups, top-20 markets and DFS.
    Notes and trends for The Open

    -- None of the past 10 Open winners finished better than 30th in the year before his win, and six of those 10 missed the cut the year before winning. Notable names that finished 30th or worse last year include Henrik Stenson (35th), Brooks Koepka (39th), Paul Casey (51st), Bryson DeChambeau (51st), Marc Leishman (60th), Hideki Matsuyama (Cut), Justin Thomas (Cut), Matt Wallace(Cut), Jon Rahm (Cut), Dustin Johnson (Cut). Last Nine Open Champions

    Result in Previous Open
    2018 Francesco Molinari Cut
    2017 Jordan Spieth T-30th
    2016 Henrik Stenson T-40th
    2015 Zach Johnson T-47th
    2014 Rory McIlroy Cut
    2013 Phil Mickelson Cut
    2012 Ernie Els Cut
    2011 Darren Clarke T-44th
    2010 Louis Oosthuizen Cut
    2009 Stewart Cink Cut
    -- Nine of the past 10 majors have been won by Americans. It's the first time since 1996-1998 that a 10-major stretch has seen nine wins by Americans, and one must go back to 1981-1984 to find the last time 10 majors in an 11-major stretch were won by Americans. The last time Americans won all four majors in a year was 1982.

    -- Eleven of the past 16 major winners were first-time major winners. Factor in that 27 of the past 28 major winners were ranked in the top 30 and who does that potentially leave as possible winners that fit that mold? Players Without a Major Championship

    Ranked in Top 30
    Bryson DeChambeau 6th
    Jon Rahm 8th
    Patrick Cantlay 10th
    Xander Schauffele 11th
    Matt Kuchar 13th
    Rickie Fowler 14th
    Paul Casey 15th
    Tony Finau 17th
    Tommy Fleetwood 20th
    Marc Leishman 24th
    Matt Wallace 23rd
    Chez Reavie 26th
    Kevin Kisner 27th
    Hideki Matsuyama 29th
    Matthew Fitzpatrick 30th
    -- Each of the past six Open Champions were ranked in the top 25 in the world and four of the past six were ranked in the top eight.

  • DataGolf picks

    The core concept underlying the DataGolf model is the idea of true strokes-gained: a measure of performance of a golfer. The model uses data from more than six tours -- including the European Tour and PGA Tour -- to adjust the performance of each golfer on a weekly basis relative to the field. These true strokes-gained performances are than weighed over varying time intervals, with more recent performances carrying heavier weight, to create a prediction for each week's event. Contenders

    Patrick Cantlay (35-1)

    The model valued Patrick Cantlay heading into the US Open at Pebble Beach and while a 21st-place finish didn't get it done, Cantlay followed it up with a 15th-place finish at The Travelers for seven straight top-25 finishes. Now just two starts removed, Cantlay can be found anywhere from 25-1 at DraftKings Sportsbook to 35-1 at Caesars. We make Cantlay closer to 19-1 and see tremendous value backing him this week. For those concerned that Cantlay isn't ready to close a major, there is also value to be had betting him at widely available prices to either top 5 (+600) or top 20 (+150). Value pick

    Webb Simpson (100-1)

    Simpson has missed just one cut on the PGA Tour this season and made more than 80% of them worldwide over the past five seasons on tour. While he has just one win over that time period, his adjusted strokes-gained reflects a world-class player and he closed out his 2018 Players Championship win against a similarly deep field. Our model ranks Simpson 15th in this field and the betting market prices are high enough to offer some value. Simpson has averaged 1.92 true strokes gained over his previous 50 rounds, just shy of the 2.0 strokes-gained benchmark that is equivalent to a top-five player in the world. Simpson is currently offered as low as 55-1 and as high as 100-1 so potential backers should be sure to shop around for the best price. Longshots

    Kevin Streelman (500-1) and Joel Dahmen (750-1)

    While the most recent majors have seen the world's elite players rise to the top, we have still been just a few swings away from seeing longshots like Chez Reavie (2019 U.S. Open) and Kevin Kisner (2018 Open Championship) pull through for their backers at massive prices. The model picks on Streelman and Dahmen are simply plays on the prices and nothing else. The DataGolf model makes Dahmen 325-1 to win The Open Championship and he is currently offered at 750-1 at Caesars Sportsbook, while Kevin Streelman can be found as high as 500-1 versus a 110-1 value per DataGolf.

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    • Rory out!! Tiger out...who will win this??

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