The Open Championship Odds 2016: Favorites to Win the Claret Jug

Brendan O'Meara@@BrendanOMearaFeatured ColumnistJuly 11, 2016

The Open Championship Odds 2016: Favorites to Win the Claret Jug

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    Associated Press

    The Open Championship is a weather fanatic’s dream. With whipping wind, zigzagging rain and billowing wind breakers, the Open Championship is a golfer’s nightmare.

    That's what makes it so fun to watch from the comforts of our homes.

    If the year's first two majors are any indication, we could be in for a surprise this week. Danny Willett and Dustin Johnson became first-time winners at the Masters and U.S. Open, respectively, while many of the usual suspects chased them up the fairways late.

    Who will take home the Claret Jug at Royal Troon this week? Let's take a look at 10 of the favorites in order of Odds Shark's money-line odds.

Danny Willett

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    Richard Martin-Roberts/Getty Images

    Money Line: +5000

    Best Open Championship Finish: T6 (2015)

       

    Season Highlights

    Winning the Masters.

    You’d call that a highlight, right?

    “Obviously Sandy Lyle and Nick Faldo [and Ian Woosnam] were the last Brits, a long, long time ago,” he told reporters afterward. “And to follow up with them, it’s fantastic. They were great champions to win the Masters. And I still can’t believe I’m going to be in and among them. And in the champions locker room, it really is mind-boggling for me.”

    Willett remained cool, finished strong and benefited from Jordan Spieth's unlikely meltdown on the 12th hole.

        

    Why He’ll Win

    Willett winning the Masters surprised many. At this point, we can’t be shocked if he wins the Open Championship, especially when considering his upward trend in this major over his past few tries.

    In 2013, he finished in a tie for 15th at the Open, and his top-10 finish in 2015 illustrated how well this Brit’s game translates to links golf.

    If he wins, he’ll be in rare company. Only seven golfers have won the Masters and Open Championship in the same year; Tiger Woods last accomplished the feat 11 years ago.

    Willett's fellow countryman, Faldo, pulled off this double back in 1990.

Justin Rose

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    Associated Press

    Money Line: +3300

    Best Open Championship Finish: T4 (1998)

          

    Season Highlights

    Justin Rose tied for 10th at the Masters, following a year when, for a time, he went stroke for stroke with Jordan Spieth.

    Rose has five top-10 finishes in 2016 and remains one of the most underrated and underappreciated golfers on the PGA Tour.

          

    Why He’ll Win

    Eighteen years ago, Rose, then just shy of his 18th birthday, finished in a tie for fourth at the Open Championship. It would take him until 2015, when he finished in a tie for sixth, to come as close to that special performance in 1998.

    He’s been studying Royal Troon leading up to the Open Championship, as he told Mike Patterson of SkySports.com:

    I think a lot of players will be telling you it's a tale of two halves—it's a classic links course in the sense that it goes out one way and comes back the other.

    I've played it in a couple of different winds now, which is really valuable. I've played it into the wind coming back in yesterday [Friday] and then downwind today, so it's amazing the difference.

    Yesterday I was hitting some three irons into some of the par fours and today I hit wedges, so I am learning the course in all weather conditions which is what The Open is all about.

    That’s a great notebook to have—to know when to dial it back or lean heavy on the throttle.

Rickie Fowler

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    Associated Press

    Money Line: +2500

    Best Open Championship Finish: T2 (2014)

        

    Season Highlights

    Rickie Fowler took second place way back in February in the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Since then, however, his game has been far more up-and-down.

    He struggled through a stretch of three missed cuts, but he rebounded by finishing in a tie for 10th at the Bridgestone Invitational.

        

    Why He’ll Win

    So what if Fowler missed the cut at the Masters and the U.S. Open? He is a high-risk, high-reward player who has the confidence to close out big tournaments.

    After all, this is the guy who won the Players Championship in 2015 by hitting more birdies than a ringer in Duck Hunt.

    He’s focused and looking to get back to his winning form, as he told reporters in June: 

    All of it is just fundamentals, from setup and getting the ball just to start on the line that we’re actually looking and having the flight that we want.

    One of the main things was my body wasn’t rotating or continuing to rotate through the ball. But also some of that was caused by not being in the proper position at the top. Cleaned a few things up.

    His short memory will serve him well at Royal Troon.

Sergio Garcia

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    Associated Press

    Money Line: +2500

    Best Open Championship Finish: Second (2007)

         

    Season Highlights

    It's hard to believe that it’s been 20 years since Sergio Garcia made his Open Championship debut. He missed the cut that year, but he would go on to record four top-five and nine top-10 finishes.

    As for this year, Garcia has a win at the Byron Nelson and a solo second at the Honda Classic.

        

    Why He’ll Win

    People have softened on Garcia over the years. Not winning a major at this point in his storied career earns him the sympathy vote.

    ESPN.com's Kevin Van Valkenburg explains why, for a time, few people liked him, despite developing in the Woods era:

    He behaved like a sullen child, and he seemed uninterested in maturing. It was mesmerizing how purely he hit the ball, the way his towering iron shots knifed through the air, but Garcia was equally skilled at throwing tantrums or saying stupid stuff when his game went off the rails.

    Can he overcome issues of confidence like the comments he delivered during the 2012 Masters?

    Do you think I lie when I talk? Everything I say, I say it because I feel it. If I didn't mean it, I couldn't stand here and lie like a lot of the guys. If I felt like I could win, I would do it. Unfortunately at the moment, unless I get really lucky in one of the weeks, I can't really play much better than I played this week, and I'm going to finish 13th or 15th. I'm not good enough. I had my chances and opportunities and I wasted them. I have no more options. I wasted my options.

    He can win because fans in attendance will be on his side.

    The Open Championship is on his native continent. He finished in a tie for fifth at the U.S. Open, which should have him entering Royal Troon with no shortage of confidence.

Branden Grace

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    Associated Press

    Money Line: +2000

    Best Open Championship Finish: T20 (2015)

        

    Season Highlights

    A week after missing the cut at the Masters, Branden Grace won the RBC Heritage in April, quickly putting the sour experience at Augusta National Golf Club behind him.

    "I can tick this one off the box and head into the next couple of majors trying to win it," he told reporters after the victory. "I have one notch. I've done it before, and I can do it again."

          

    Why He’ll Win

    In a word, confidence.

    After winning the RBC, he finished in a tie for ninth at the Valero Texas Open, a tie for fifth at the U.S. Open and a tie for 10th at the Bridgestone Invitational.

    That stretch of results means he’s firing hot, and at plus-2000, that could be $100 well-invested.

Adam Scott

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    Associated Press

    Money Line: +2000

    Best Open Championship Finish: Second (2012)

        

    Season Highlights

    Adam Scott roared into the Masters with back-to-back wins in the Honda Classic and Cadillac Championship.

    It didn’t serve him well, as he would track well behind the field at Augusta and finish tied for 42nd.

       

    Why He’ll Win

    In 2012, Scott finished second at the Open Championship, and he followed that with a tie for third in 2013. In 2014, he shared a tie for fifth.

    You’d have to go back to 2011 to find a time when he didn’t finish inside the top 10. Now he heads to the Royal Troon course where he’s been honing his game, as he told Camilla Tait of SkySports.com:

    You've got to adapt a lot. That's why we're here early. We don't get to play this kind of golf too much, there's so much variety and so many options you have here.

    I think it takes that extra few days to really adapt and feel comfortable hitting a few shots along the ground or hitting a two-iron from 170 yards.

    Scott has a measured approach to the game and is a tremendous ball-striker. With that 2013 Masters win in his back pocket, he’s capable of winning another major before he retires.

Jordan Spieth

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    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Money Line: +1000

    Best Open Championship Finish: T4 (2015)

        

    Season Highlights

    He has two wins on the year, but a one-hole implosion at Augusta cost him a chance at winning back-to-back Masters.

    Jack Nicklaus, the 18-time major winner, spoke about Spieth's heartbreak after the Masters (via Ewan Murray of the Guardian):

    I think the whole golfing world feels for Jordan Spieth. He had a chance to do something truly special and something very few have done before—and be the youngest to accomplish that—and he just didn’t pull through.

    My heart goes out to him for what happened, but I know that Jordan is a young man who will certainly learn from this experience and there will be some good that comes out of this for him. He’s a wonderful talent and a wonderful young man.

    Spieth has probably forgotten about it already.

         

    Why He’ll Win

    Few golfers are as clutch as Spieth, and his putting on the links-style greens gives him a leg up at Royal Troon.

    Spieth, like Woods before him, always tries to peak for the four big calendar events.

    "The major championships and the Ryder Cup are what I'm looking at to try to peak," he told Golf Channel's Rex Hoggard last week. "It's going to be tough. A lot of guys are going to be a little gassed, but adrenaline carries you through that week."

    Spieth won two majors last year and finished in a tie for second at the Masters this season.

    He came within one putt of getting into the playoff for the 2015 Open Championship, so he’ll be gearing up in a big way to win his third different major.

Rory Mcilroy

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    Associated Press

    Money Line: +1000

    Best Open Championship Finish: First (2014)

        

    Season Highlights

    McIlroy won his first tournament of the season at the Irish Open, which was a nice tuneup for the Open Championship.

    He's had four top-five finishes on the PGA Tour this year, so he’s been in contention, but he has lacked the kick to keep pace with the big winners.

        

    Why He’ll Win

    McIlroy will make his first start in the Open Championship since winning it in 2014. He missed defending his Claret Jug in 2015 after suffering a serious ankle injury while playing soccer with friends.

    The Associated Press (h/t USAToday.com) provided an overview of his year: "Winning the Irish Open before a home crowd was his first victory of the year and a big deal. Not pushing through when having chances (French Open, Doral) has been puzzling. After missing St. Andrews with an ankle injury last year, this will be his first British Open since he won."

    James Corrigan of the Telegraph warned that if McIlroy doesn’t rebound soon, he’ll be the “Ringo” of golf’s Big Four.

    Are you serious?

    McIlroy has as many major titles as the Paul, John and George of this Big Four combined. How is he at risk of becoming the Ringo?

    Sure, it’s been nearly two years since McIlroy has won a major, but he has contended in almost all of them since. Nothing has changed, except for the fact he now has more company atop the mountain.

    That will force the best of his game to surface, maybe as soon as Sunday at Royal Troon.

Jason Day

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    Associated Press

    Money Line: +800

    Best Open Championship Finish: T4 (2015)

        

    Season Highlights

    Jason Day, the No. 1 player in the world, has three wins on the year and should have four.

    He had two top-10 finishes in the season’s first two majors and is a dangerous threat to win the Open Championship.

        

    Why He’ll Win

    Aside from last year’s top-five finish at the Open, Day has not fared well in this tournament. Prior to last year, his highest finish was a tie for 30th in 2011.

    Add to that his recent meltdown at the Bridgestone Invitational, and one has to wonder how he’ll rebound.

    "I'm disappointed, but I've got to try to focus on what I did great this week, move on and try to get better for the British Open," Day told reporters after the Bridgestone Invitational. "I feel like my game is coming around nicely."

    He won the PGA Championship in 2015 and has carried much of that winning form into this year. Those three wins all came in big tournaments.

    Expect Day to improve at the Open and put pressure on the money-line favorite.

Dustin Johnson

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    Associated Press

    Money Line: +650

    Best Open Championship Finish: T2 (2011)

        

    Season Highlights

    He won the U.S. Open, which he then followed up by winning the Bridgestone Invitational.

    All together now—thanks, Jason Day!

    After Johnson’s leave of absence in 2014, he has won three tournaments: a major and two WGC events.

         

    Why He’ll Win

    Nobody likes being saddled with all of that talent and then being unable to win a major tournament. Johnson came close in the 2010 PGA Championship, the 2015 U.S. Open and the 2011 Open Championship. His list of near-wins has an epic tinge.

    That all changed since he won the U.S. Open this year.

    His titanic driving should help him at Royal Troon, according to the Associated Press (h/t USAToday.com):

    Now that he finally has a major, the question is whether this leads to more — and how soon. The strength of his game — driving — would seem to give him an advantage on the tough closing stretch at Royal Troon. It might come down to how he chooses to play off the tee on the front nine.

    As if Johnson needed any more confidence, his back-to-back wins in two huge tournaments could spell a big weekend for him across the pond.

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