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With the leading bookmakers all keen to get your business, the 2017 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale makes for an exciting punting proposition this week. With a record-breaking 10 places each way available for the first time ever this year with Sky Bet and the forecast looking decidedly gnarly, finding a value outsider is a tactic that's potentially packed full of profit!
With prevailing westerly and south-westerly winds of anything up to 30 mph forecast at times across the opening 3 days, expect a tough test this week. Some players simply can't handle links style golf where the ability to grind is paramount. In reality this is probably the most likely of all Majors to produce a long-priced, even 3-figure winner, as per Zach Johnson in 2015, Darren Clarke in 2011, Louis Oosthuizen in 2010 and Stewart Cink in 2009. The last few years have produced the following outsiders, each of whom finished in the top 7 at least:
From a value-hunting perspective, Skybet have the leading proposition with a record-breaking 10 places each way, 1/5 odds at the 2017 Open Championship. This offer is available to both new and existing customers, so if you don't have a Sky Bet account then make sure you take up this 10-place offer - a proposition that has never been generally offered in Major Championship history:
8 places each way at 1/5 odds is also readily available from bet365, Betfair Sportsbook, Coral, Paddy Power and Stan James. The Betfair Sportsbook new customer offer is interesting as you can access a boosted £100 Welcome Bonus, plus they have been offering a standard 7 places each way 1/5 odds across both European plus PGA Tours each and every week for a while now.
In terms of specific bookmaker each-way deals for the 2017 Open Championship, here's a breakdown of the best for longshot betting purposes:
Paul Williams has given us his view of the outright market in his preview here. I have also based these selections from my Open Preview piece which is here. However here's a set of longer shots and an alternative market bet, all of whom have a strong chance of making the each way places or better in my view:
Former Open Champion Zach Johnson makes plenty of sense this week. A winner of this title 24 months ago when priced at 110/1, when asked about his game after finishing 5th at the John Deere Classic on Sunday he answered, "I know my game is trending. I have been saying that for a while, but I know it's trending. It's just a matter of when, not if." Well I certainly liked what I saw in Illinois last week. 1st for Greens in Regulation, 3rd for Strokes Gained Approaching the Green, 1st for Strokes Gained Tee to Green and 4th for Proximity to Hole were Johnson's best ball-striking numbers for an age. Zach is also happy on a links-style set-up with 9th at Royal Lytham (Even/280 - 2012), 6th at Muirfield (+2/266 - 2013), 1st at St Andrews (-15/273 - 2015) and 12th at Royal Troon (-1/283 - 2016) highlighting ably that Zach is more than happy to grind in our climate. I like Zach's draw with Sergio Garcia which sees him go out at 13:04 Thursday and 08:03 Friday - I think the Spaniard will be a calming influence on the Group which includes Jason Day - and Zach is clearly at home on short Par 70 set-ups. 100/1 is available on Zach at the time of writing with BetFred with 6 places each way, 1/4 odds however I've taken the additional places with Sky Bet in this instance.
Soren Kjeldsen has always been a fantastic wind player and genuine grinder. 3 of his 4 wins on the European Tour across Gleneagles (2002), Valderrama (2008) and Royal County Down (2015) have all been at single-digits under par and naturally any win at Valderrama highlights the likes of Garcia, Harrington, Langer, McDowell, Montgomerie, Rose and Tiger Woods - not too bad a bunch when it comes to Open Championships and Majors in general. Now I'm sure even Soren would blush when compared to such prestigious golfers, but the fact is that he can undoubtedly mix it when tough conditions beat half of the field before they've even reached the 1st tee. 7th at Augusta last year where winds were gusting up to 30 mph for the opening 54 holes, Soren was also 3rd at Royal Troon last year at the halfway stage before Stenson and Mickelson performed their weekend heroics. The Dane though stoically finished 9th. At 42 years of age, Kjeldsen has much experience to draw on and strong results across the Qatar Masters, Sicilian Open, Dunhill Links Championship and his last win at Royal County Down in the 2015 Irish Open all link well to the challenge ahead this week. There he beat a top field on a tough links course, in squally conditions and was an ever improving 9th last week at the Dundonald Links.
Seems to me that Brian Harman has been a little underestimated by the layers this week and 25/1 about a top 10 finish looks a cracking bet. 27th in the World Rankings, 9th in the American Presidents Cup standings and 9th in the FedEx Cup rankings highlights just how well the 30 year-old has played in 2017. His 2nd place finish at the U.S. Open was an exceptional performance given that Erin Hills was a bomber's paradise and that he held everything together when going out in the final group on Sunday. It's worth remembering that Brian, who's based on the eastern seaboard on St Simons Island in Georgia, won his 2nd PGA Tour title in May at the coastal resort of Wilmington, North Carolina in a tournament which was wind-affected. The way he closed that event with World Number 1 Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm breathing down his neck, showed plenty of bottle and also highlighted that Harman's game is built around accuracy and top-notch putting. Top 10 results across Torrey Pines (2017), Riviera (2014), Harbour Town (2014 & 2017), TPC Sawgrass (2015), Colonial (2015 & 2017), TPC Southwind (2014) and Bethpage Black (2012) highlight a player who thrives on tougher assignments. 26th on his one and only Open Championship appearance down the coast at Hoylake is promising and as I stated when tipping him last week in Illinois, Harman has to keep producing results as the only likely way he gets into the United States Presidents Cup team is by qualifying automatically.