Betting on a golf tournament is like trying to guess how many jelly beans are in a jar—there's a chance you might stumble on the right call, but more than likely, you're just pulling a guess out of thin air.
That's because golf is such an unpredictable, variable sport. A great player could have one bad round that ruins his tournament. A mediocre player could have the weekend of his life. The weather could be crappy in the morning and lovely in the afternoon, killing the players who tee off first. One tricky, difficult hole could completely alter the course of the entire tournament.
But hey, let's take our guesses anyway, because that's fun. Taking a look at the odds and the top contenders, let's see if we can't parse out some of the smarter plays at the Open Championship.
For the full list of odds, check out OddsShark.com.
Stay away from Tiger Woods—seriously. The man hasn't won a major in years and is coming in at 16-1 odds because people have the nasty habit of over-betting popular names or teams. It's why you should never trust a line on a Dallas Cowboys game.
Plus, Woods missed much of the season with an injury. His recovery process seems to be at a nice stage, however, as he told the Golf Channel:
The little baby steps worked. We were very diligent about what I was doing. Going into it we pushed it pretty hard to get my abs and glutes strong so when I did come back I was able to rebound fast. I can do whatever I want. I'm at that point now. We didn't think we'd get to that point until this tournament or the week after.
Trust Woods at your own peril.
You might have better luck with Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott. You won't get terribly favorable odds with either, as they are two of the favorites, but both are playing pretty well at the moment. McIlroy won the BMW PGA Championship in late May and was a poor round away from winning the Scottish Open.
Those second rounds keep killing McIlroy.
Scott, meanwhile, has a win this year and six top-10 finishes. Plus, he's finished third at the past two Open Championships and, with his major drought broken, won't have that pressure hanging over him. Oh, and he's the world No. 1 at the moment.
Don't sleep on Scott.
Nor should you sleep on Phil Mickelson. Sure, he's been in poor form for much of this year, but he's also the defending champion at this major, so he has that going for him. And he also is always capable of magical moments, though he'll be hoping to avoid the following shot, passed along by SportsCenter on Twitter:
VIDEO: Phil Mickelson practices his off the bunker backwards golf shot to get ready for The Open Championship. » http://t.co/xR2PJXb2mp— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 10, 2014
Wind is always a potential factor at the Open Championship—hopefully not to that degree, however.
Bubba Watson is always a player to watch, though this type of tournament doesn't seem to suit him. Martin Kaymer could be a player after dominating at the U.S. Open. Justin Rose is a popular choice, although Jason Sobel of the Golf Network isn't convinced:
Oddsmakers say: Justin Rose is the Open Championship favorite. Numbers say: Justin Rose has one career top-10 ... when he was 17 years old.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) July 15, 2014
Perhaps he isn't convinced for good reason.
Jordan Spieth will offer you favorable odds, but is he ready to conquer this course? Probably not. Matt Kuchar has had a strong year, so he could be in the running. Lee Westwood didn't inspire much confidence after missing the cut at the Scottish Open.
Let's be honest—it's all up in the air. When it comes to golf, sticking with the favorites is probably a smart strategy, especially at the Open Championship, where the weather could absolutely affect the entire tournament in unpredictable ways.
Look for Scott to take this one. This will be the year he finally conquers the Open Championship that has twice broken his heart. Given his recent form and the fact he has a major under his belt, he's as good a bet as anyone.
Just don't be surprised when that jelly-bean jar confounds you once again.