Open Championship Longshots

Steve Bamford's Open Championship Longshots Tips - Royal St George's, Sandwich 2011

With the Open Championship 2011 almost upon us, Golf Betting System asked its profit pundit Steve Bamford to highlight his Royal St George's bargains.

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Time after time the Major championships return winners at some incredibly long prices. Charl Schwartzel was available at 90/1 before his Augusta triumph in April; Louis Oosthuizen was an incredible 250/1 before his demolition of the field at St Andrews last year. Don’t think that “Oosties” triumph was a one-off as Stewart Cink was priced at 135/1 when he won the Open at the gnarly and windy Turnberry in 2009. With some bookies already extending their each-way terms to 6/7 places, the scope for getting a great Each Way return, or even a shock winner, is definitely there again this week...

The key to long shot bargain hunting is naturally picking the right players, but just as key is selecting the right BOOKMAKER. Paddy Power is running an Open Championship 7 place special, in combination with some market leading prices. For those of you new to golf betting that effectively means that Each Way bets are settled at 1/4 odds on all players finishing in the Top 7 (usually Top 5) at Royal St George's. To top it all, Paddy Power are also offering GBS readers double their normal signup offer - £100 of free bets only via this link!

Bet 365 and Skybet are also offering some cracking prices and have extended their proposition to 6 places Each Way. This provides a huge opportunity on a player I came extremely close to picking, Darren Clarke. Paddy Power for obvious reasons can’t match other bookmakers on “The Peoples Champion” but I’d very much recommend covering Clarke Each Way and to maximise his price by taking lower Each Way place terms.

So, fellow bargain hunters, here are 5 outsiders that I think can be at the higher end of the leaderboard come Sunday evening. With high winds forecast throughout the tournament and St George's rated as the hardest course in the Open rota, this week will be a true test of golf. Here are my Top 7 tips with Paddy Power:

Jeff Overton 100/1 with Paddy Power Free Bet £100 In Free Bets plus 7 places each way, get it here: Paddy Power Free Bet

What’s Bamford doing picking a player that has never won on the PGA Tour?! It’s true that Overton has never won a tournament, but remember a Top 7 delivers 25/1 and that’s very possible with Overton. The 28 year old from Indiana can’t be described as a fair weather American and what excites is both his ability to play tough conditions well but also his results on Par 70 tracks. Take his Open Championship record and you see that 3 consecutive appearances from 2008 – 10 have gleaned 70th- 13th-11th. That’s impressive improving form for the 2010 Ryder Cup member who played well in tough conditions at Celtic Manor. Overton is “lightly baked” in 2011 but that’s very much a positive, as his game is coming to the boil at the perfect time for this week. Indeed Jeff has delivered 8th at TPC Four Seasons and 3rd at Aronimink in his last 4 appearances, both on Bent green Par 70 courses. 6th at PGA National in week-long windy conditions in March behind Sabbatini also catches the eye. Overton has drawn favourable Thurs/Fri tee times (15:16/10:15) and I’m not expecting the wind to blow this young American off course this week. RESULT: T38

Thomas Aiken 150/1 with Paddy Power Free Bet £100 In Free Bets plus 7 places each way, get it here: Paddy Power Free Bet

African’s don’t tend to do too badly at the Open. Bobby Locke, Gary Player, Nick Price, Ernie Els and Louis Oosthuizen have all won the Claret Jug post-war. You can add Retief Goosen, Charl Schwartzel, Trevor Immelman and one Thomas Aiken to the list of South Africans who have finished in the Top 20 since 2008. Links courses and tough conditions suit players brought up in similar conditions in the Southern hemisphere. I love the look of the in-form Aiken this week to grab a Top 7 result. He started 2011 with 3rd, 5th, 6th and 7th place finishes before the end of February and took that from forward when he hit Europe, culminating in his first career win at the Spanish Open in May. He also featured at the top of the leaderboard at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in late May before a 77 in the 3rd round scuppered his chances. Taking on board the recent achievements of Schwartzel and Oosthuizen has acted as a catalyst for Aiken who is the next in-line to hit the World Top 50 (currently 82nd) and Thomas has already mixed it at the highest level. Indeed 2009 saw him finish 7th at the WGC event at Doral in Florida and 8th at Turnberry in similar conditions to those expected this week in Kent, plus the Johannesburg man has a decent late PM/early AM draw in term of tee times.  RESULT: M/C

Alexander Noren 200/1 with Paddy Power Free Bet £100 In Free Bets plus 7 places each way, get it here: Paddy Power Free Bet

Sweden and the Open Championship are comfortable companions. Jesper Parnevik always played well when at the peak of his mercurial powers and, in recent years, both Robert Karlsson and Henrik Stenson have produced contending performances. Even “journey man” Richard S Johnson delivered 8th at Turnberry in 2009. Well in 2011 I’m predicting that Alex Noren will come to the party at St George's. The 28 year old who was born in Stockholm captured his 2nd European Tour title at Celtic Manor in early June so naturally his game is in great nick. Interestingly Graeme McDowell won in Wales prior to his US Open triumph last year at Pebble Beach Golf Links. I’m not picking Noren on that fact alone, but in combination with an impressive seaside golf history it’s a potent cocktail. Finishes of 3rd (07), 10th (09) and 12th (08) at the KLM Open when it was played at Zandvoort and 17th at the Alfred Dunhill Links last year (when Noren was in a slump) show a great aptitude for tough golf on the water’s edge and 50/1 for a Top 7 is extremely attractive for the young Swede who played solidly at the US Open a couple of weeks back. RESULT: M/C

Justin Leonard 200/1 with Paddy Power Free Bet £100 In Free Bets plus 7 places each way, get it here: Paddy Power Free Bet

Grabbing Open Championship specialist Justin Leonard at 50/1 for a Top 7 is an unbelievably strong position to hold especially with horrid conditions forecast. 2011 has been a poor season for the Texan with only 3 Top 20 finishes leading to a position where he is fighting to keep his PGA Tour card, but an opening 2 rounds of 135 (-5) last time out (finished 38th) at the classical Par 70 at Aronimink highlighted that Leonard’s game is starting to find momentum. Leonard’s recent problems stem from his inability to make birdies, but on a set-up where making par will be an amazing advantage in tough conditions, Leonard will thrive. He still sits in the top 70% on the PGA Tour for bogey avoidance so his grinding ability will most certainly come to the fore in Kent this week. His Open Championship record is great with 5 Top 20s including a 1st (1997) 2nd (1999) and most recently 8th in the tough conditions at Turnberry in 2009. Favourable late/early tee times, is the last part of the jigsaw for me as I’m sure that experience will play a huge part as the Open develops this week. RESULT: M/C

Raphael Jacquelin 300/1 with Paddy Power Free Bet £100 In Free Bets plus 7 places each way, get it here: Paddy Power Free Bet

French golfers will always have a place in Open Championship history thanks to Jean Van De Velde and I’m often surprised that they are written off by the bookies before a ball is struck in anger. Take Gregory Havret last year at the US Open held at Pebble Beach. The 800/1 shot defied conventional golfing logic to finish 2nd, a single shot behind Graeme McDowell. That’s why I’m surprised that the World Number 81, Raphael Jacquelin, is priced at 300/1 for Royal St Georges this week. After all here is a player who won the Sicilian Open on a technical course with undulating fairways and links type feel only in March. He backed that up the week after with 4th in breezy conditions at the Andalucia Open behind the 1999 Open Champion Paul Lawrie. For those that like coincidences this was the coastal tournament Oosthuizen won prior to his St Andrews triumph last year. Moving into late May, Raphael showed he can mix it at “World” events by finishing 4th at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. A record of strong finishes in tough conditions on technical courses isn’t represented with a 300/1 price and I’m on Jacquelin who has a great late/early tee time draw to return a Top 7 at 75/1. RESULT: 8th

Odds and bookmaker offers updated at 20:00BST 13.7.11 but naturally subject to fluctuation.

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