Final-day trends justify Johnson’s frontrunner status at the Open

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The slight shock that Open Championship leader Darren Clarke is not starting day four day as favourite despite boasting a one-shot advantage is understandable given the recent history of final-day turnarounds in the tournament.

In three of the last four years, margins as big as three shots at the top of the leaderboard have been overhauled with only South African Louis Oosthuizen’s four-stroke gap last year proving too large to close down.

For that reason, it is no huge surprise that Clarke can still be backed at odds of 5/2. It is also worth nothing that despite his compatriots winning two of the last five majors, no Northern Irishman has triumphed at the Open since Fred Daly in 1947.

Many viewers will hope to see the 42-year-old claim his first major at an event that he led before finishing second in way back in 1997 though as it would be an incredible story given that he last placed in the top 40 of one over five years ago.

Who is the best placed to pounce if Clarke misses out? The destination of the Claret Jug has changed hands on the final day on the last three times the Open has been held at the Royal St George’s Golf Club in Sandwich.

On each of those occasions, the late surge was provided by someone that was within two shots of the leader, with the victor being one stroke off the pace on two of those instances, criteria that only 9/4 frontrunner Dustin Johnson matches.

It therefore looks like the other prominent chasers like Rickie Fowler (7/1) and Thomas Bjorn (14/1), who are three behind, are best viewed as each-way challengers.

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