Open Championship sleeper picks to watch: Here’s who might break out at Royal St. George’s

Richard Bland hits a tee shot during last week's Scottish Open.

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The Open Championship? More like the … I can’t write Closed Championship. Can’t. The goal here is to get you read through. So maybe this:

The Open-Only-to-the-Top-100-in-the-World Championship. 

Let’s continue. There is a point. According to some brilliant digging by Justin Ray (seriously, give him a follow on Twitter here), the year’s only major across the pond really is inclusive of only the biggest names in the game. 

According to Ray, since the Official World Golf Ranking began in 1986, only four players ranked outside the top 100 have won the Open. First came John Daly, who won in 1995 at St. Andrews while ranked 109th in the world. Then Paul Lawrie did it, when he won in 1999 at Carnoustie while No. 159 in the world. 

The other two? Ben Curtis, who won in 2003 while ranked a whopping 396th. And Darren Clarke, the winner a decade ago while No. 111. 

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And where, might you ask, were those tournaments played?

Royal St. George’s, also the host of this year’s event, which begins Thursday.       

So while the Open may be mostly shut (sorry, again) to sleepers, the course in Sandwich, England, provides some hope for an underdog winner. The trick now, of course, is finding him. We can help. Members of our staff have each made a long-shot bet using odds from BetMGM to help you with your own weekly picks, whether those are for a low-stakes office fantasy league, or (legal!) big-bucks bets with a sportsbook. In addition, should you bet through BetMGM, the online sportsbook is offering a “Bet $20 Win $100 on any Bet” promotion.   

On to our picks: 

Sleeper picks 

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Josh Berhow

Sleeper pick: Stewart Cink, +11,000. Who has won twice this season and already has an Open title? Stewart Cink. 

James Colgan

Sleeper pick: Padraig Harrington, +17,500. History tells us that if an older man is going to compete at a major championship, it’s likely to be at the Open. Of course, we already saw Phil Mickelson win the PGA at 50 years old, and Richard Bland hold the 36-hole U.S. Open lead at age 48, so why not Harrington, at 49, to round out the trio?

Dylan Dethier

Sleeper pick: Richard Bland, +25,000. It’s easy to dismiss Bland’s first 36 holes at the U.S. Open as a fluke, but what if it was actually his weekend that was the fluke? If you want someone ready to handle the linksland and is coming in in proper form, here’s your guy — nearly 50 or not. 

Nick Piastowski 

Sleeper pick: Thomas Detry, +14,000. He nearly pulled it off at the Scottish Open last week, and here’s thinking he gets it done on a bigger stage seven days later. An honorable mention here to Richard Bland, at +25,000. He made a run at the U.S. Open. What a fun story it would be if he won on his home soil. 

Tim Reilly

Sleeper pick: Guido Migliozzi, +16,000. Italy is riding high off its Euro Cup victory, and Migliozzi looks to keep the celebration going. He broke out in the U.S. Open and has played well for the past several weeks and months. If I’m being honest, I really want Guido back in the mix so I can continue using Sopranos memes for him. Those odds for a player trending in the right direction and Sopranos memes are a perfect storm for me. 

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Josh Sens

Sleeper pick: Robert MacIntyre, +9,000. His strong showing at the Masters was no fluke. Same with his fine play in last week’s Scottish Open.

Andrew Tursky 

Sleeper pick: Richard Bland, +25,000. Bland is coming off a T50 at the U.S. Open, a T4 at the Irish Open, and a T15 at the Scottish Open, and he won the British Masters back in May. In terms of long shots, there’s not too many coming into this week with better form than Bland.

Jonathan Wall

Sleeper pick: Johannes Veerman, +40,000. Finished 3rd and T8 in his past two European Tour starts. Worth a flier at that price. 

Sean Zak

Sleeper pick: Lucas Herbert, +10,000. He’s been playing great golf for a few weeks now, and you gotta jump on a heater when you see one. 

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Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at