THE fourth and final major of the season gets underway tomorrow morning (Thursday) as the world’s best golfers tee off at Royal St George’s in Kent for the Open Championship.
While Ireland’s Shane Lowry is the defending champion, all eyes all be on US Open champion and current world number two Jon Rahm to see if he can win back-to-back majors.
The bookies are taking no chances and local firm Sean Grahams have the big-hitting Spaniard as the clear favourite at 15/2.
Rahm was 10/1 when tipped up on these pages at Torrey Pines and some punters will be reluctant to back such a short-priced favourite given how competitive majors are.
Yet, Rahm should relish the conditions and have proven links form as a two-time Irish Open winner and he clearly the man to beat this week.
Behind him in the betting, and it is some way behind, comes a host of leading players at similar odds including Brooks Koepka (16/1), Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth (both 18/1), Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas and Xander Schauffele (all 20/1).
Of that sextet, the latter is the only one without a major win and it is surely only a matter of time before he collects one, but he may have to wait until next season.
It all gets going on Thursday morning ⛳️@EuropeanTour @PGATOUR @puntersg— Sean Graham (@SPGBETTING) July 13, 2021
Who will win the final Major of the year ?
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While I’m seriously tempted by Koepka as he always contends at majors, 18/1 seems more than fair when pricing up the chances of Jordan Spieth, the 2017 Open champion.
He posted a top 20 finish at the US Open and he looks primed to challenge this week.
Others at bigger odds look tempting including perennial contender Louis Oosthuizen (28/1) and Australian Marc Leishman (66/1) – although I believe both men are too short in the betting.
I’d argue the same is true for defending champion Shane Lowry who ought to be bigger than 40/1.
He was 100/1 for the US Masters, 66/1 for the USPGA and 50/1 for last month’s US Open. Having backed him in each major so far this season, I can’t abandon the Offaly man this week, especially with Sean Graham paying a massive 10 places.
With such generous place terms, I think the USPGA winner Phil Mickelson is also worth an each-way punt at 80/1.
Although he turned 51 last month, ‘Lefty’ proved he still has the game to win majors with his stunning performance at Kiawah Island in May.
Mickelson won the Open in 2013 and was runner up in 2011 and 2016 and it would be no surprise to see him in the mix on Sunday afternoon.
Finally, I’ll have a small punt on Branden Grace at 66/1 to lead after the first round as the South African is another who loves links golf.