British Open Odds 2014: Underdogs Poised for Strong Showings at Royal Liverpool

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British Open Odds 2014: Underdogs Poised for Strong Showings at Royal Liverpool
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With the field for this year's British Open so well, open, the chance is there for somebody to upset the odds and pull off a major shock.

The event has produced some surprise winners in the past, and with links courses like the Royal Liverpool Golf Club, the level of unpredictability only increases.

The four golfers below won't be spoken of in the group of top contenders to win, but they are smart bets to at least perform above expectations. Two of them have won majors before, but they're still looking at long odds for this year's British Open.

Note: The odds are courtesy of VegasInsider.com and as up to date as Wednesday, July 16, at 7:40 p.m. ET.

 

Louis Oosthuizen: 65/1

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Louis Oosthuizen is somebody you don't want to sleep on at Royal Liverpool. The 2010 British Open winner has been dealing with back issues this year, so that's a worry. However, if he can stay on his feet for all four rounds this year, he is a sure-fire dark-horse threat.

One of the biggest factors at this year's British Open will be how each golfer performs on the par fives. Gaining strokes is never easy to do on links courses, so taking full advantage of the longest holes may be the key to victory.

Oosthuizen is ninth on the PGA Tour in average driving distance (304.4 yards). Although his driving accuracy is at 61.21 percent (94th), he's got the ability to set himself up well on the par fives with strong drives.

You can't expect to get stone-cold locks with odds this long, but Oosthuizen offers some bang for the buck.

 

Francesco Molinari: 65/1

Francesco Molinari is either very good or very bad at the British Open; there's little in between. In six attempts, he has three missed cuts to his name and has finished in ties for 13th, 39th and ninth in the three other events.

Missing the cut at the Scottish Open didn't help his preparation much, but for the most part, Molinari has been a solid if unspectacular golfer in 2014. In his 18 events this year across the PGA and European Tours, he's missed only two cuts, both on the European Tour.

A fifth-place finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and sixth-place finish at the Players Championship illustrate what Molinari is capable of when he's at his best.

 

Hunter Mahan: 85/1

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Hunter Mahan isn't entering the British Open on a good run of form. He missed the cut at both the U.S. Open and the Travelers Championship in June. That's a stark contrast to his four top 10s in five events between January and March.

The 32-year-old doesn't have a terrible record at the Open Championship, with two top-10 finishes in 11 years. He ended up in a tie for 19th and then a tie for ninth in each of the last two tournaments.

If Mahan can get somewhere close to his early season self again, then he could spring a surprise or two in England.

 

Padraig Harrington: 135/1

Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Quick, who was the last player to repeat at the British Open? If you guessed Padraig Harrington, you were right on the money, per ESPN Stats and Info:

Harrington's fortunes have taken a swift decline since those two triumphs, though. He missed the cut in 2010 and 2011 and has finished no higher than 39th in the three years in which he made it past the second round.

There is, of course, a reason the 42-year-old is looking at such long odds. He hasn't won a PGA Tour event since 2008.

Harrington spoke about how not being in contention may hurt his mental preparation for the British Open, per Express' Neil Squires:

I feel like my game is good enough but I am missing the element of stress in my warm-up. It's always nice to be in contention the week before because it beds down your routines under pressure. I would hope those feelings come back but I had been hoping to familiarise myself with them again.

A win is likely out of the question for Harrington, but his experience on links courses means you can't count him out completely.

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