10. Brooks Koepka (Image: GETTY)
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The wait is finally over for the 149th Open Championship. Two years after Shane Lowry lifted the famous Claret Jug at Portrush, the world’s best golfers have assembled at Royal St. George’s Golf Club in Sandwich as they attempt to tame one of the most fearsome links courses in the world.
Built on a wild duneland, Sandwich is the ultimate test of links golf, with partially blind shots and deep bunkering around the course, so much so that the fourth hole is reported to have the deepest bunker in championship golf.
Like most links courses, Royal St. George’s is hugely susceptible to inclement weather, weather that is renowned for changing at the flick of a switch. Greg Norman remains the only golfer to record a double-digit winning score of 13-under back in 1993.
When it comes to betting on the Open Championship, the key factor is experience of links golf. Six out of the last nine Open Championship winners played at the Irish or Scottish Open, on a links course, the week before.
Moreover, 14 of the last 15 Open winners had previously posted a top 10 finish at an Open Championship.
And it’s that statistic that sounds a big note of caution for anyone tempted to back red-hot 15/2 favourite Jon Rahm , who has yet to post a top 10 Open finish.
The US Open champion does, however, have a strong record on links tracks, backed up by his solid effort in the Scottish Open at the weekend where the Spaniard finished two shots behind winner Min Woo Lee.
Rahm is a shade of odds-on ( 10/11 ) to post his first Open top-ten finish and 15/8 to finish in the top 5.
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Open Championship Contenders
Rory McIlroy missed the cut at Renaissance and still looks well short of his best but that premature departure did at least provide the Northern Irishman with an opportunity to get an early look at Sandwich.
The 2014 Open winner missed the cut at Portrush in 2019 but he has posted finishing figures of 5-4-2 since his Hoylake victory so his Open record undoubtedly brings McIlroy, who is an 18/1 chance with Grosvenor Sport, into contention.
Brooks Koepka is another big gun with enough Open form in the book to play a starring role. The four-time Major winner has posted three top-ten Open finishes in the last four years and has already gone close in the USPGA and US Open this season, both of which were at coastal courses (Torrey Pines and the Ocean Course).
Koepka has not played since a respectable fifth in the Travelers Championship last month but that is probably by design given his focus on the big events and the American looks a big player this week.
Another US-contender with a proven pedigree in this type of event is Jordan Spieth , an 18/1 chance with Grosvenor Sport.
Spieth’s three Majors include the 2017 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale and his brilliant short game will enable the Texan to negotiate the undulating Sandwich greens better than most. A revitalised Spieth, who went close in this year’s US Masters, is firmly back in the groove now after a period in the wilderness.
If you are looking for a little more value in the price direction, then the 66/1 about links-loving South African Branden Grace could be the way to go. Grace shot a 62 in the third round of the 2017 Open Championship at the Royal Birkdale, setting a record for the lowest round in a men's major championship.
The 33-year-old has been in good form this year, winning the Puerto Rico Open and hitting the top-ten in the US Open.
Brooks Koepka (each-way) 16/1
Jordan Spieth (each-way) 18/1
Branden Grace (each-way) 66/1