Time after time the Major Championships produce some long-priced contenders and winners - the Open Championship is certainly no exception and because the tournament is such a specialised event in my opinion it's the most likely of all 4 to produce a 3-figure winner. The last few years have produced the following outsiders, each of whom finished in the top 6 at least:
• 2011: Darren Clarke (200/1 - Winner); Thomas Bjorn (200/1), Chad Campbell (250/1) Anthony Kim (175/1) - all finished 5th
• 2010: Louis Oosthuizen (250/1 - Winner); Henrik Stenson (100/1 3rd), Nick Watney (125/1) & Robert Rock (300/1) - both finished 7th
• 2009: Stewart Cink (175/1 - Winner); Tom Watson (1500/1 2nd) Chris Wood (500/1 3rd)
So clearly this is the Major where it can often pay to look a little further down the field in terms of the betting! Most of the mainstream bookmakers have extended their Each Way places this week to give us an extra chance of grabbing that long-priced payout, at the time of writing only Coral remained at 5 places, however do check carefully before placing your bet, plus the EW terms will inevitably change once the tournament is in-play.
As we've proved in recent times, the key to longshot 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 Lytham & St Annes for bets placed before the start of the event. Allied to this Paddy Power are also offering GBS readers an exclusive 5 times their normal signup offer for new customers, that's £/€250 of free bets only via this link: Paddy Power 7 Places EW & £/€50 Free Bet
In tandem with Paddy Power's mouth-watering proposition, Skybet is also a brilliant option to have some big priced each-way action with. They have extended their Each Way payout to 6 places at 1/4 odds, plus when you register a new account they will instantly credit you with a a totally free £10 bet no deposit required - so you can have a free £5 Each Way bet or if you are brave £10 'on the nose' - full details here: Skybet £10 Free No Deposit. So fellow bargain hunters here are my 5 outsiders to watch:
It's certainly a case of feast or famine for the 2003 Champion Ben Curtis at the Open Championship, who is having a renaissance in 2012. 9 appearances have generated 3 Top 10 finishes including 8th at Carnoustie in 2007 and 7th just down the Lancashire coast at Birkdale the following year - naturally on top of the Ohio man's amazing debut win in 2003 at Royal St Georges. You can also add 6 Missed Cuts to the mix so we'll know early on whether Curtis will be in the mix this week and in my opinion the World Number 76 (he's jumped 234 spots in 2012) has a huge chance. There's no doubt that accuracy from tee-to-green and great ball-striking will play a huge part in the proceedings so I love his current PGA Tour category stats which read: Driving Accuracy: 3rd, Greens in Regulation: 6th, Ball Striking: 29th, Bogie Avoidance: 4th. Superb results at classical tracks like Bay Hill, Quail Hollow, Oakland Hills (2nd PGA Championship 08), Cog Hill and East Lake in recent years highlight Ben's ability to contend on Major-type courses where making pars is of paramount importance. 1st at TPC San Antonio this April was followed by 13th at TPC Louisiana, 5th at Quail Hollow and a superb 2nd at the technical TPC Sawgrass in May. This week could be more feast than famine for Ben Curtis. Curtis was trading at 119/1 on Betfair at the time of writing - details on how trading works on golf read our Golf Trading article. RESULT: MC
2-time US Open Champion Retief Goosen is on the warpath. A debilitating back injury which forced the Florida-based South African to pull out of both last year's Open and PGA Championships was finally treated back in April and now virtually pain-free 'Goose' is focussed on regaining his place in the World Top 50 after missing out on an Augusta appearance back in April for the first time since 1999. So it was great to see Goosen deliver 10th at the Bentgrass greened and extremely technical Olympic Club back at the US Open and back that up with 23rd at Le Golf National last time out. The 2001 (Southern Hills) and 2004 (Shinnecock Hills) US Open Champion has always thrived on tougher courses and the Open Championship is no exception as 8 Top 10s in 17 appearances highlights, which includes 5th at Turnberry (09) and 6th at St Andrews (10). 2nd back in January at the coastal links set-up at Fancourt when losing in a play off to Brenden Grace at the Volvo Golf Champions highlights that Goosen still has the application to contend this week in Lancashire. Goosen was trading at 189/1 on Betfair at the time of writing - for more details on how trading works on golf read our Golf Trading article. RESULT: T64
Like 90/1 shot Curtis, we will know the score with Australian Geoff Ogilvy pretty soon into the opening round on Thursday as the Ex World Top 10 and 2005 US Open Champion either Misses the Cut at the Open or contends. 5th at St Andrews (05) and 16th at Hoylake (06) highlight that Ogilvy can contend on links courses and that's not forgetting that Geoff won both the 2009 and 2010 Tournament of Champions hosted at the windswept cliff-top Kapalua; he also won the 2010 Australian Open plus was 4th last year at the links style Lakes Golf Club in Sydney. A look at Ogilvy's CV highlights a player who comes alive on tougher technical and classical courses and people were slightly surprised when he finished 4th at Augusta last year and backed that up with 4th at the Canadian Open and 3rd at Cog Hill. But, for me, Geoff raises his game for the bigger tournaments these days and in 2012 he seems better equipped to play links style golf. Geoff will be motivated to do well this week at Lytham as he has recently dropped out the World Top 50 and would love a large haul of ranking points. Ogilvy was trading at 229/1 on Betfair at the time of writing - for more details on how trading works on golf read our Golf Trading article. RESULT: T9
I'm also more than happy to have a speculative punt on Open Championship specialist and classical golf course expert Andres Romero. 'A-Bomb' is arguably the most difficult player to read on the professional Tours, but one thing is for sure..........he loves links golf. 8th on debut at St Andrews was followed by 3rd at Carnoustie when the Argentinean had a huge opportunity to win The Claret Jug. Since then he finished 32nd at Birkdale and his last Open Championship appearance saw 13th at the very challenging Turnberry. Andres is also famous for playing in patches, so when he finished 2nd to Tiger Woods at Muirfield in June the alarm bells started to sound for me with this week in mind. Sure enough, since banking $545,000 in Ohio, 34th followed at Congressional before the inevitable missed cuts at Old White TPC and last week at Castle Stuart. However, like night follows day, Romero is due another serious contending performance and it could certainly be this week at big odds. Romero was trading at 239/1 on Betfair at the time of writing - for more details on how trading works on golf read our Golf Trading article. RESULT: 83
Finally I'm plumping for arguably the best Senior Golfer on the planet right now, Tom Lehman, who is an incredible 300/1 with Skybet on 6 places Each Way terms. That's right, effectively 75/1 for a top 6 available without a deposit on Sky's offer! Tom Watson at Turnberry in 2009 almost pulled off a shock 1500/1 win victory, and Greg Norman was 500/1 when he seriously contended going down the stretch at Birkdale in 2008. Lehman won here in 1996 and also finished 4th at St Andrews in 2000. His game is tip-top at the moment as a senior tournament form-line of 2(Senior US Open)-2-1-4-29-2 highlights. Unflappable and No1 on the PGA Senior Tour for Greens in Regulation, Total Driving and Ball Striking I'm expecting a huge performance from Lehman who finished 22nd at Sandwich and 14th at Turnberry on his last 2 visits to The Open. Lehman was trading at 449/1 on Betfair at the time of writing - for more details on how trading works on golf read our Golf Trading article. RESULT: MC
The Big Easy is seriously ripe for at least at a Top 20 at Lytham & St Annes. Ernie has had a strong 2012 with Top 10s at Fancourt/Links (2nd), Copperhead/Technical (5th), Bay Hill/Classical (4th), TPC Louisiana (2nd), Wentworth/Technical (7th), Olympic Club - US Open/Classical Tech (9th). Ernie's world ranking has jumped from 56 to 40 as a result and you just know that on a course where positioning tee and second shot positioning is key Els will come to the party. 19th on the PGA Tour season to date for Scoring Average (up from 120th in 2011) Ernie's ability to grind out Pars and avoid Bogies will be key this week. 12 Top 10 finishes in 20 Open appearances is the stuff of legend and the 2002 Open Champion just has to be backed to Top 20 this week at quite generous odds. RESULT: Winner
Well I just have to back up Paul Williams who, in his main Open Championship tips, has gone for Graeme McDowell this week to seriously contend at Lytham & St Annes. At the double the price of Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy, I think the odds are huge on a player that won the US Open in 2010 at Pebble Beach Golf Links and who finished 2nd at Olympic Club back in June and who ticked over nicely with 16th at Portrush and 17th at Le Golf National last time out. His driving accuracy right now is amongst the best on the PGA Tour and we all know that he comes alive on the tougher tests like Bay Hill, Valderrama and 3rd at The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship last year stands out too. RESULT: Dead Heat With Donald
Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 18:10BST 17.7.12 but naturally subject to fluctuation. Check you bets carefully before placing!