Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy smiles as he listens to a question from the media at a press conference ahead of the start of the British Open golf championships at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland, Wednesday, July 17, 2019. The British Open starts Thursday. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy smiles as he listens to a question from the media at a press conference ahead of the start of the British Open golf championships at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland, Wednesday, July 17, 2019. The British Open starts Thursday. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)|Associated Press

Betting the British Open: Kern is staying away from faves McIlroy and Koepka and going with Rahm, Johnson, Fleetwood, Stenson and longshots.

The action starts Thursday morning EDT from Royal Portrush.

Mike Kern

Mike Kern

OK, it’s time to try to make sense/sort out the British Open, or Open Championship as it’s called throughout the rest of the world. To crown the “Champion Golfer of the Year.” This year it’s the fourth and final major, since the PGA was moved to May. So after this all you really have left to look forward to is the FedEx Cup playoffs, which most years is not as big a deal as the PGA Tour would want you to believe. Except of course in years when Tiger Woods happens to win the final event, which happened a year ago. The British Open is being held at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951. So who really knows what to expect, with no track record on the course to go by?

The two co-favorites, as you might suspect, are Rory McIlory at 8-1 and Brooks Koepka at 10-1. Rory lives right up the road, and set the course record of 61 in 2006 when he was 16 years old. He has four majors but hasn’t won one since the 2014 British. But he’s played well this season, without too much to show for it in terms of wins, and he’s played well in the majors during his majorless run. He just hasn’t been able to actually get any trophies. Koepka, of course, has won four of the last nine majors he’s played in. One was the PGA two months ago. And he finished second at the Masters and U.S. Open. But he hasn’t played particularly well, comparatively-speaking, at the British.

One thing to keep in mind: the weather is supposed to be, well, not good. And the wind allegedly will be a factor, as it sometimes is over there. Just saying. It is different.

Dustin Johnson, Tiger Woods and Jon Rahm are all 16-1. Dustin has won one major, but he should have won more. And he’s kind of flying under the radar a little bit coming in, after nearly winning the Masters and PGA. Rahm has three top 3s in his last three starts. He’s always around, but doesn’t seem to get it done quite enough. Tiger, who’s won three claret jugs (the last in 2006), was leading this thing heading into the back nine last July at Carnoustie. But he hasn’t played very much since winning his fifth green jacket, and when he has he hasn’t been much of a factor.

Justin Rose is 20-1. He’s had eight top 10s in majors the last five years. Francesco Molinari, your defending champ, is 25-1. As is Patrick Cantlay, who won the Memorial six weeks ago and has moved into the Top 10 in the world rankings. Tommy Fleetwood and Xander Schauffele are also 25-1. Adam Scott, whose putter usually holds him back, is 28-1. So is Henrik Stenson, who won three years ago. Ditto Rickie Fowler, who’s still trying to win his first major after all this time.

Jordan Spieth, the 2017 winner, is 33-1, along with Matt Kuchar, who’s probably having his best season. Bryson DeChambeau is 40-1, with Hideki Matsuyama and Jason Day. Paul Casey, 2010 champ Louis Oosthuizen and Matt Wallace are 50-1. Marc Leischman is 66-1, Sergio Garcia and Rafa Cabrera Bello 80-1, Phil Mickelson 100-1 and Kevin Kisner 150-1.

That about covers most of the usual suspects. It should be noted that four of the last eight winners were at least 40. And Zach Johnson was 39.

Also remember that there are a lot more available prop bets out there this week, just because. So instead of just looking for a winner, which is what I try to do, you can bet guys to finish in the top five or 10, or be the low American or low Brit or low whatever. You can bet folks to make or miss the cut. All kinds of stuff. So try to have some fun with that stuff too. You don’t have to bet a lot. Just something to give you more of a rooting interest when you get up early in the morning to watch. And really, does it get much better than breakfast and championship golf?

I could go a bunch of ways here. I’m not taking Tiger, Molinari (hard to repeat), Woodland (hard to win back-to-back majors) or Koepka (just because). But if you can get Koepka at roughly 10-1, I can certainly understand why you would. He just might be right there again. Would hardly be a shock.

I usually give you three picks, but I’m going to hand out some more suggestions since a few will be legitimate longshots and you really don’t have to wager too much to get a lot back. Nothing wrong with that. The three longshots I would take a chance on are Louis Oosthuizen, at 50-1, Kevin Kisner at 150-1 and Rafa Cabrera Bello at 80-1. Go light, but hey you never know. And I would back them to finish in the top 10 too. Another bloke I might look at is Matt Wallace at 50-1. Between the four of them you should maybe get a good run from at least one or two. And the investment would fetch a real nice price.

As for the main threats, at least on paper, I have Rory McIlory in my yearlong pool, which usually doesn’t work out so well. I think he might have even more pressure on him this week, given the venue, and I don’t know what impact that might have. But I do think he’s going to play well. I’m just not going to take him for these purposes. I think I am going to take Jon Rahm, at 16-1. I’m also going to take Dustin Johnson at 16-1. And since I’m not going with one of the faves, I’ll give you two more in the mid range. Call it a bonus. I’m looking at Tommy Fleetwood at 25-1 and Henrik Stenson at 28-1. There, that should be more than enough to keep you occupied. The tournament looks like it could be wide open, and there are many interesting numbers to be had. You just have to back the right name. Maybe that’s what they mean by rub of the green. Anyway, good luck as always. Try to have some fun with it, and hopefully actually cash a ticket or three. Because that’s the most fun. So don’t forget to set that alarm clock.

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