2023 Open Championship betting guide: 12 picks our expert loves this week
Welcome to our weekly PGA Tour gambling-tips column, featuring picks from GOLF.com’s expert prognosticator, Brady Kannon. A seasoned golf bettor and commentator, Kannon is the host of the HeatStrokes podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @LasVegasGolfer, and you can read below to see his favorite plays for the Open Championship, which starts Thursday at Royal Liverpool. Keep scrolling past Kannon’s picks, and you’ll also see data from Chirp, a free-to-play mobile platform that features a range of games with enticing prizes, giving fans all kinds of ways to engage in the action without risking any money.
If one were to ask me what my favorite major championship is in April, my answer would be the Masters. Ask me the same question in July, though, and my answer is always the Open Championship. I’m torn between these two but am always equally fired up depending on the time of the year. Ask my wife the same question, her answer is easy: The Open, because he (Brady) sleeps on the couch for four nights, enjoying live major championship golf in the wee hours for us stateside.
This week marks the 151st edition of The Open, and for the third time in 17 years, the claret jug will be up for grabs at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake, England. Tiger Woods won at this course in 2006 with a score of 18 under. Rory McIlroy won his last major to date at Hoylake in 2014 with a score of 17 under.
Since McIlroy’s win, the course has changed, by way of a 2020 Martin Ebert renovation. Ebert moved many of the fairway bunkers to accommodate for today’s longer game. He lengthened the course by roughly 70 yards. He created a new 17th hole — a 135-yard par-3 with a small, elevated green, that features run-off areas on all sides, surrounded by treacherous bunkers.
The 10th hole also was changed from an easy par-5 to a demanding 500-plus-yard par-4. What was once a par-72 layout will play to a par-71 in 2023. The opening line for the 72-hole winning score proposition bet was 268.5, meaning one can choose under or over a winning score of 15.5 under par.
Woods famously avoided every bunker in 2006 and only once hit driver off the tee. He led the field that week in Driving Accuracy. McIlroy also used few drivers off the tee in 2014 but still led the field in Driving Distance. The course was firm and fast and dried out in 2006 but was much softer in 2014. It looks like we will get the soft version this week with steady rain in the forecast and minimal wind.
With so much trouble lurking, I think strategy off the tee will be crucial this week. The intermediate rough isn’t too menacing but stray much farther and players will find themselves in knee-high fescue grass. The course is flat without the sand dunes we see at so many seaside Open courses but the fairway bunkers are penal. There also is internal out of bounds on 3 and 18. Greenside bunkers will be difficult and short-game creativity will be needed. However, as is the case at all Opens, the green will be slow to protect the balls from rolling off should the wind become too frisky.
Given all of this, I feel that accuracy off the tee trumps distance this week. Mid- to long-iron play will be important. Different from what we are used to in the U.S., where length and aggressive play is often rewarded, I believe this course will demand a more defensive approach. Avoiding the trouble will be paramount.
The skill sets I looked at this week were Strokes Gained: Approach, Strokes Gained: Off the Tee, Strokes Gained: Around the Greens, Scrambling, Hole Proximity from 175-200+ yards, Bogey Avoidance, 3-Putt Avoidance and Strokes Gained on Par-4s measuring 450-500 yards. Most of these metrics are going to spit out results from PGA Tour play — and given this week’s links test will be different, emphasis on the stats should probably be lessened. Other factors must be taken into account.
For correlated courses, I looked at past Open venues, Muirfield and Royal Troon; I also looked at Royal Portrush because Ebert also performed renovation work there. I looked at The Renaissance Club where they have played the Scottish Open now for five straight seasons and stateside, TPC Sawgrass (Players Championship) and PGA National (Honda Classic). It is interesting to note that at Hoylake in 2006, two of the top-five players on the leaderboard had won the Players Championship and Jim Furyk had finished runner-up. In 2014, four of the top five on the leaderboard had won the Players, with Furyk again being in that bunch.
To Win the Open Championship (and to finish Top 20)
Scottie Scheffler (+750)
I played Scheffler to win outright and also finish top 10. I played the rest of those listed below for a win and top 20. We know the story here — if Scheffler can even be an average putter this week, he should win. He’s on a run of 14 straight tournaments in which he has gained two or more strokes off the tee, and five straight in which he has gained six or more strokes on approach — and has finished top 5 in seven straight starts. Since 2015, Scheffler has played only 22 rounds of links golf but over that time has gained 1.85 strokes on the field. And, oh, by the way, he also won the Players Championship earlier this season.
Tyrrell Hatton (27-1)
I struggled here between Hatton and Xander Schauffele. Not only are they close in price but also in all of the stats and other handicapping angles. Hatton has greater links experience, gaining over 1.7 strokes on the field over the course of 113 rounds of links golf since 2015. But will the pressure of winning in his home country get to him? I am hoping not. He’s finished 4th before at the Honda Classic, was second this year at the Players, comes off of a sixth-place finish at the Scottish Open and finished 5th at Portrush in 2019, and fifth at Troon in 2016.
Collin Morikawa (30-1)
Like Scheffler and Hatton, Morikawa also is excellent off the tee. He ranks fifth on Tour in Driving Accuracy and over the last 36 rounds he is third in this field for SG: Approach. He won the Open on debut in 2021 at Royal St. George’s, and in 20 rounds of links golf since 2015, he is gaining a stroke on the field. His game has been up and down this season, but he’s coming off a playoff loss at the Rocket Mortgage, and in the majors, he has finished 10-26-14. I think he shows up here again this week.
Justin Rose (60-1)
It is not uncommon for 40-somethings to win The Open. Length is not as important as it is in any of the other majors. In fact, five of the past 10 open champions have been 35 or older. Experience matters. Justin Rose will be 43 at the end of this month and this will be his 20th Open. Since 2015, in 66 rounds of links golf, he is gaining 1.66 strokes on the field. He has a win at Pebble Beach earlier this year as well as a sixth-place finish at the Players. He has finished top 10 three times at the Honda Classic. He has everything you need to win at Hoylake: accuracy off the tee, tremendous mid- to long-iron game, excellent short game and is maybe the best bunker player in the field. He was also 23rd here at Royal Liverpool in 2014, 22nd at Troon in 2016 and 20th at Portrush in 2019.
Adam Scott (80-1)
Similar to Rose, Scott is another elder statesman with much links golf and Open Championship experience. Scott will be playing in his 23rd Open and has five top-10 finishes, including a runner-up in 2012. He’s won the Players Championship and the Honda Classic. He is 15th in this field over the last 36 rounds for SG: Off the Tee and also Par-4s measuring 450-500 yards. Scott has finished top 10 at this course in both 2006 and ’14 and was also third at Muirfield in 2013.
Rickie Fowler (80-1)
No, this number is no longer available. I bet it before Rickie made his run at the U.S. Open back in June — but I still don’t mind a play on him currently between 25- and 30-1. Fowler has a tremendous track record on links courses. He was runner-up to McIlroy at Hoylake back in 2014 and was sixth at Portrush in 2019. He’s also won the Scottish Open. He won and finished runner-up at both the Players Championship and the Honda Classic. Of course, he just got his first win in nearly 4.5 years at the Rocket Mortgage and is playing some of the best golf of his career. Since 2015, in 66 rounds of links golf he has gained 1.58 strokes on the field. Over the last 36 rounds, he is sixth in this field for SG Approach and second for SG Around the Green.
Hideki Matsuyama (90-1)
Matsuyama has been hit or miss at the Open Championship throughout his career but this number was high on a guy who I believe fits this particular course well. He finished 39th here in 2014 and, of course, since then, has won a major championship. He’s missed the cut in three British Opens but also has two top-20 finishes and took sixth at Muirfield in 2013. Three times he has finished top 10 at the Players. Over the last 36 rounds, Matsuyama is seventh in this field for SG: Approach, 15th for SG: Around the Green, fourth in Hole Proximity from 175-200 yards, 14th from 200+ yards and fourth in Bogey Avoidance.
Si Woo Kim (165-1)
My one real long shot of the week — and apparently not only mine as I have seen this number come down to closer to 125-1. Eight of the last 10 Open champs had a win earlier in that same season, and Kim won the Sony Open earlier this year. He also has two top-10 finishes at the Players including a win. He is 12th in this field for SG : Off the Tee over the last 36 rounds, 14th on the par-4s at 450-500 yards and 28th in SG: Approach.
Full Tournament Head-to-Head Matchups (39-32-4 YTD)
Thorbjorn Olesen (-120) over Rasmus Hojgaard
Justin Rose (+117) over Matt Fitzpatrick
Si Woo Kim (-120) over Sahith Theegala
Xander Schauffele (-140) over Shane Lowry
Who Chirp users think will win