The Open look ahead: US Open’s leading lights to feature heavily
The 145th Open Championship returns to Royal Troon for the first time since 2004 and the long leave of absence from Scotland’s West coast means course form is unlikely to be the biggest betting barometer.
Phil Mickelson might debate that point. The 2013 Claret Jug recipient, five-time major winner and one of the elder statesmen of the game went within a shot of earning a place in the play-off 12 editions ago at Troon.
The 46-year-old American is right at home on links, but his unusually long odds of 33/1 reveal a season bereft of weekend participation at 2016’s first two majors – could Phil be slowing down?
Ernie Els, also 46, is 100/1 despite rolling back the years to claim a second Claret Jug in 2012, albeit the South African’s Masters meltdown in April was followed by an inauspicious missed cut at Oakmont as well.
England’s Lee Westwood – fourth the last time Royal Troon played host to the British-based major – is about the only other worthy contender on course form alone. However, his horrow show 10-over-par final round from only a shot off the 54-hole lead at the US Open gives Westwood’s army of doubters plenty of ammo that the 50/1 shot will never get over the line on the biggest stage.
Moreover, with his own majors ghosts finally laid to bed with victory at Oakmont, it will be no surprise to see Dustin Johnson leading the charge once more in Scotland.
Starting at 12/1 – two points shorter than the ante-post mark which rewarded Ladbrokes customers for the US Open – DJ has shown his tee-to-green game holds up strongly against the rigours of links golf.
The powerful American came within a whisker in 2011 when finishing runner up at Royal St George’s and has since posted two more finishes inside the top 12 at the Open – but has arguably never approached one in better touch.
Rory McIlroy, as he invariably does, will go off favourite at 6/1 but a missed cut at the US Open and an up-and-down season in general tends to rob the Olympics-swerving superstar of any value.
In terms of multiple major winners, Jordan Spieth may be a better bet at 7/1, given he was fourth at St Andrews last year. The Texan went so close to successive Masters titles in 2016 and was at least in the mix at the US Open heading into the final straight.
Of the US Open’s leading protagonists though, it’s most difficult to ignore world number one Jason Day, 8th, at 7/1, runner-up Shane Lowry (40/1) and Sergio Garcia, who tied for fifth, at 28/1.
Day tied for fourth with Spieth a year ago at the Royal and Ancient, Lowry, who led the field going into Sunday at Oakmont posted a top 10 in 2014, the same year Garcia finished runner-up for the second time in The Open Championship.
Two of the last four winners of the Claret Jug finished in the top 12 at the US Open the same season. Defending champion Zach Johnson’s steady creep up to 8th by the end of play at Oakmont also shows he is in the frame again at 50/1.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.