British Open 2014: Latest Odds, Predictions and Picks
Tiger could be an endangered species, but you wouldn't know that by looking at his odds to win the British Open.
As charismatic megafauna go, there are none bigger than Tiger Woods. As it stands, he's 15-1 on the morning line, good for co-second choice with Rory McIlroy. This just doesn't make much sense. (What was that sound? Ah, another casino/hotel going up in Vegas.)
What else can be expected at Royal Liverpool? It's anyone's guess, but we're just a couple days away from 2014's third major golf tournament, and all the big guns howitzers have tee times. Read on for the latest odds, bold predictions and picks for the Open Championship.
Odds for this article are provided by Vegas Insider.
Current Odds for the Contenders
These are the top 10 on the morning line according to Vegas Insider. This list raises both questions and eyebrows.
Adam Scott: 12-1
Tiger Woods: 15-1
Rory McIlroy: 15-1
Henrik Stenson: 18-1
Martin Kaymer: 20-1
Justin Rose: 22-1
Jason Day: 25-1
Sergio Garcia: 28-1
Phil Mickelson: 28-1
Graeme McDowell: 30-1
Tiger Woods Won't Make the Cut
Not only is Tiger Woods, at 15-1, the biggest underlay in the history of golf betting, but he probably won't even make the cut (15-1 to make the cut may be a decent line on him, but to win?). For Tiger-philes like myself, this is always hard to hear.
Many people tune in to golf to watch Woods and Woods alone. The casual fan has little interest outside of Woods and maybe Rory McIlroy's ex-fiance.
Woods is back, which is great, but he's not back back (cue Chris Berman). He won this tournament at Hoylake back in 2006, where words like "surgical" and "tactical" were used to describe his triumph. He never used his driver—it showed up in practice twice then vanished quicker than the Loch Ness monster. He walked up and down fairways with his hands in his pockets. It was a mocking performance.
This year he'll be lucky to get to Saturday. This is only his second tournament after major surgery, and Thursday will mark just his third competitive round of golf since doctors cut his back open.
Hank Haney, Woods' former swing coach, told Golf Channel, "Tiger’s strategy in ’06 was all his own. (The) media hailed it as genius, but it was the only strategy he had, he didn't like driver back then and he clearly likes it less now."
Phil Mickelson Won't Win Two in a Row
What's the bottle deposit on the Claret Jug? Do you get 10 cents if you return it in Michigan? What about Great Britain?
Phil Mickelson, America's third favorite lefty behind Jerry Seinfeld and Steve Carlton, returned the Claret Jug to the deft handlers at Hoylake. He won last year's tournament by having one of the historically great Sundays the game has ever seen.
The World Golf Hall of Famer would be the first to admit he has had a decidedly subpar last 12 months. In the 21 PGA TOUR events he's played since winning The Open Championship, Mickelson has just one top-10—and that came when he tied for sixth at The Barclays last year.
Yet he feels no pressure. He's just one U.S. Open away from the career Grand Slam, and he can't win that tournament until 2015...so here he is.
His relative slump will likely continue at Hoylake. He's only hitting 58 percent of his fairways off the tee, which is not going to cut it this week at Royal Liverpool.
Rory McIlroy Will Lead After Day 1...
...But Day 2 will see him sink faster than that barge in the above photo.
TGIF is an acronym (and a restaurant) that likely makes Rory McIlroy shudder. Take last week's Scottish Open. McIlroy shot a course-record 64 on Thursday. Friday's round was 14 strokes higher, a seven-over 78.
"Friday was just one of those days where nothing really went right," McIlroy told CNN.com. "I couldn't get any momentum. So it would be nice to shoot another good one tomorrow and head to Hoylake with a bit of confidence."
He did shoot a final-round 67, so only time will tell if he has the confidence to play well on Thursday and Friday.
That's the X-factor now. Fridays have killed him this year, and now it's as much a mental hurdle as anything for the former world No. 1.
Rickie Fowler Bound for Top 10 at the Open
Rickie Fowler is on the morning line at 50-1. He's not quite John Daly at 500-1, but for a young player striking the ball as well as he is, 50-1 is good value on a guy ready to contend for majors.
John Huggan of Golf Digest writes, "More and more it would seem, Rickie Fowler is a man for the big—or biggest—occasions."
Fowler was third in the WGC Match Play, T-5 at the Masters and T-2 at the U.S. Open. Just as Huggan says, Fowler is rising his game when it matters most.
Fowler's comments in and around the Scottish Open point to a man ready to embrace the challenge of links golf. He's interested in playing into the wind more than downwind. He's ready to see just how squarely he can strike the ball for four rounds. If this year is any indication of how well he'll perform, he'll easily be in the top 10 and possibly higher up the board.
Butch Harmon, one of golf's most revered swing coaches, told Golf Digest, "Rickie told me, 'I want to be known for more than my clothes and my hat. I want to be known for my game. Can you help me?'"
That speaks to a golfer on the rise.
Martin Kaymer's U.S. Open Hangover Will Continue
Wouldn't it be something if Martin Kaymer won the British Open a week to the day after the German soccer team won the World Cup? Golf may not rank even as high as luge in Germany, but one would think it would still be a matter of some national pride.
Kaymer hasn't been the same player he was when he wired the field in the U.S. Open. He hasn't been very sharp in his last two tournaments. He finished T-102 in the BMW International Open and missed the cut. He followed that effort T-12 at the Open de France.
That doesn't point to a guy with odds of 20-1 to win the Open Championship. That shows a horse in middling form, not one ready to run a big one, so the saying goes. Kaymer told the Daily Mail:
I’ve never been to Hoylake and I don’t know the course. But for me, playing the Open always feels like I’m coming home. It’s real golf where you have to feel the course and play with all the conditions. Playing the Open is about playing the game of golf. It’s a mental battle and a fight. The fans really know golf. The Open week says so much about golf. It would be amazing to win it one day.
No, Sergio Garcia Will Not Win, but Wait...
Perhaps it's possible Yahoo's Andy Vuong brought out his irony board when he predicted in Dec. 2013 that 2014 would be "The Year Sergio Garcia Finally Wins a Major." Vuong writes:
Next year's Open Championship will be held at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, a course Garcia has played well at. Royal Liverpool hosted the 2006 Open Championship, a tournament won by Tiger Woods with Garcia finishing in a tie for 5th. A brilliant 65 in the third round catapulted the Spaniard into a tie for second heading into the final round.
That's not teasing Vuong by any means, but it's hard to take Garcia seriously when you play the prediction game. These are the types of things that help move the meter. Vuong does have a point that Garcia could, at the very least, threaten for the Claret Jug.
The argument against Garcia is this: T-52 at the Masters, T-35 at the U.S. Open. He's crumbled this year at the majors and doesn't possess the stoutest record either.
He's starting to reach patronizing-fan-favorite status now. Every time he tees it up in a major, he's going to garner some form of adulation (especially in Europe) because he hasn't won.
Graeme McDowell Will Be a Major Threat
Graeme McDowell is sitting on some great value at 30-1, this from a guy fresh off a victory in the Alstom Open de France. And Rob Lee, a writer for Sky Sports, thinks McDowell's game is perfect for Hoylake:
I think it’s only a matter of time before McDowell wins or goes extremely close to winning the Open and that could be as early as next week at Hoylake, where he led after round one in 2006.
Graeme’s natural game is knocking the ball down and avoiding the hazards and if Tiger Woods’ win eight years ago is anything to go by then that will be fundamental at Hoylake.
That sounds like McDowell will be an unheralded threat to win this tournament. He has the right demeanor to win a major, and winning the Open for his homeland of Northern Ireland will be the perfect coupling to his U.S. Open from a few years ago.
His play in the majors this year has been sub-prime, with his best finish being a T-28 at the U.S. Open. There's a synchronicity happening with McDowell's game and the course he's bringing that game to.
There may be only two golfers who will be ahead of him on Sunday.
Justin Rose Will Be in the Final Pairing
Justin Rose may be the hottest golfer on tour as we speak. He had been in a drought, as up until two weeks ago, Rose hadn't won a tournament since the U.S. Open in 2013.
Two weeks ago he won the Quicken Loans National, and this past Sunday he won the Scottish Open in preparation for the British. Needless to say, his game is on point and he's ready to win one for the Queen.
"Obviously, I’ve won two in a row now, so I’ve put the pressure on myself," Rose said in a Golf Channel article. "I’ve got no one else to blame but myself. It’s uncharted territory for me. I’ve never won two in a row, so may as well keep the run going."
They say fame is fleeting and while that is certainly true, it can be even more fleeting when it is derived from the title of "world’s hottest golfer," which can only be separated by a comma from a player for just so long until he yields the designation to a peer who becomes, well, hotter.
Mickelson won the Scottish Open and parlayed that into his first British Open triumph. Rose will put in one heck of a run.
This Is the Year Adam Scott Wins the British
It would be harder to pick Adam Scott to win the British Open if he hadn't already been so close the past two years and hadn't already won a major golf tournament.
In 2012, he saw his lead on Sunday slip away. In 2013, he watched as Mickelson went five-under and claimed the Claret Jug like a 19th-century imperialist.
Scott's close calls in the past two years could signify he's ready to claim his first British Open and second major championship.
"I played really nicely the last two years and felt like I had control over my game on courses that make it easy to lose control," Scott said in a Golf Link story. "At majors, when you're doing that, that's a very positive thing."
Scott hasn't been the greatest off the tee, hitting only 63.65 percent of his fairways. He's third in birdie average and No. 1 on par fives, which is why he's the No. 1 player in the world.
Expect a big, winning effort from Scott.