10. Padraig Harrington
Vegas Odds: 28-1
Chance to win: .59%
My Field Ranking: 33/125
If every major championship was played at Bethpage Black, we would probably have a different view of Padraig Harrington as a player. He doesn’t hit the ball that high, basically a must in the US and so has struggled to Americanize his game this year. A lower ball flight is more beneficial at the Open Championship, where he has experienced his greatest major championship success. Harrington is a pretty overrated player this week, but there has to be SOME merit to his history at the British. Thank god I can use the logic “He won twice in a row” to toss out the absurd price in his match-up against Tiger.
9. Sean O’Hair
Chance to win: 1.53%
My Field Ranking: 10/125
Looks like Vegas hit the 66-1 odds right on the head. Definitely a good ball striker, with solid showings on tough courses means O’Hair is good enough to win a major. Plus, when in doubt, stick as many Americans in the top ten as possible.
8. Ben Curtis
Vegas Odds: 60-1
Chance to win: .78%
My Field Ranking: 11/125
Think Curtis’ win in 2003 was a fluke? Results since then, prove it probably wasn’t. Curtis has twice won on tour, and only missed 5 cuts in the past two years. Curtis has finished 7th and 8th in the past two Open Championships and had a top-5 in last year’s PGA. Curtis benefits from the windy conditions, because he is a steady player, good putter and doesn’t hit the ball that high. 60-1 seems a little less enticing because he was 40-1 in Hartford a few weeks back, so I may be thinking more along the lines of match-ups with Curtis.
7. Camilo Villegas
Vegas Odds: 55-1
My Field Ranking: 7/125
Reasonable Chance to win: 2.38%
Villegas has been more consistent this season than last, despite not posting any victories. Villegas finished 39th last year in his only Open Championship and his game doesn’t particularly stand out for links golf, but I’m not ruling him out based on his style of play, overall talent and historical easiness of Turnberry.
Vegas Odds: 30-1
My Field Ranking: 5/125
Chance to win: 2.18%
Casey has displayed no form of late, but he has had one of the better years worldwide. Three wins will do that. Casey has always been a fantastic ball striker with a lot of talent, but the putting has really fallen into place this season. Luckily for Casey, Open Championships seem to be a better test of putting than ball-striking. Last year he finished in the top-10.
5. Hunter Mahan
Vegas Odds: 30-1
My Field Ranking: 7/125
Reasonable Chance to win: 3.05%
Only because I like Hunter so much. The guy has a tendency to get hot with the putter and make everything in route to posting really low rounds(62 at Congressional, 61 at Ridgewood). He also has a great swing and has put up some fantastic results in the past few months.
Mahan missed the cut last year at Birkdale, but finished tied for 6th place at Carnoustie two years ago. It’s only a matter of time before Mahan wins his first big tournament. He is that good.
4. Jim Furyk
Vegas Odds: 28-1
My Field Ranking: 3/125
Reasonable Chance to win: 4.05%
Furyk and Stricker are the dynamic duo of somewhat boring American players that do nothing but post solid results. Although he has never gotten real attention as an elite player in the world 7 top-tens in 14 starts this season is pretty good for anyone not named Tiger Woods.
Furyk will be a legit contender on a shorter Turnberry course that should pose no problems for him distance-wise, but I like his game less than Stricker’s on the potential this turns into a shootout as other Turnberry Opens have. You would never consider Furyk a tradition Open player, but he has three straight top ten finishes to his name and is definitely a legit contender this week. Again, if driving accuracy and controlling ball flight is at a premium, then Furyk is on the shortlist of favorites.
3. Sergio Garcia
Vegas Odds: 22-1
My Field Ranking: 4/125
Reasonable Chance to win: 2.01%
It’s no shocker that Sergio has a great history at British Opens. More than any other major championship this is a test of ball striking. There are very few players in the world(Tiger only, maybe) that can hit the variety of shots as purely as Sergio can.
Garcia owns 6 top tens in the Open Championship this decade. The question for Garcia now, is can he sort out his game in time for this major championship? He has clearly played below his potential these past few months, but there have been no signs that he is close to getting back on the right track.
Flattish links greens, should give Garcia less trouble than normal, but the real test will be whether his swing is in as good form as it was last season. If that is the case, Garcia is on the short list of contenders, but 22-1 is nothing to write home about.
2. Steve Stricker
Vegas Odds: 40-1
My field Ranking: 2/124
Reasonable Chance to win: 6.41%
Stricker winning the JDC last week was a good bit of fortune for those who took him early. Not sure that actually means anything in the long run, but 55-1 is a better price than 40-1.
He may not have as many wins as a guy like Kenny Perry, but he certainly has more consistent results. Stricker finally picked up a win this season at Colonial then followed it last week and has drifted as high as second in my World Golf Rankings.
Stricker finished T23 in the US Open against the world’s best, but lets remember that is probably the equivalent of a top-15 finish because he drew the unlucky side of the draw.
I’ve talked about how links golf is in some ways bizarro golf and Stricker stands out as an incredibly consistent player who is not an overly talented ball striker(a.k.a. he doesn’t work it like Tiger or Sergio, or hit moonballs like McIlroy), but that could suit him well on this course. He also has two top-ten finishes in the last two outings at the Open Championship.
The one concern with Steve, is that his putting stroke is more suited for super fast greens, which the Open greens will almost assuredly not be. Still, solid results from the past two years, strong tournament history and great price make Stricker a serious contender this week.
1. Tiger Woods
Vegas Odds: 2.5-1
My field ranking: 1/125(BY A LOT)
Reasonable Chance to Win: Between 25-45%
I could make a splash here, and put someone else up to get some attention or get people arguing, but the fact is Tiger is the best golfer in the world, by a lot. He may not win, but he is the best golfer and the obvious favorite this week.
While the slow greens of British Opens, tend to frustrate Tiger he is still the world’s most talented ball-striker and has a great short game. You better believe that Tiger will be able to draw up a game plan for Turnberry in two weeks and he will execute it better than anyone else. Tiger is the obvious favorite.
Whether or not he has value is still iffy. Based on his last three tournaments of play, Tiger’s chances of winning a tournament against this field are in the upper 40%. Usually, I wouldn’t take extra significance in just three tournaments, but it seems like in that time Tiger has really been able to get back to his practice routine and regular rhythm after coming off an injury. If that is the case, or he returns to his two year average(not that many rounds) 35%-45% for Tiger to win here is not at all out of the question.
When I’m talking about Tiger’s average, he is really the only player that it drastically changes the odds for because he is so good. If you base it on this year’s performance he is about 25% to win. If you use a two year average it is about 35% to win, and at his peak he is 45% to win. Obviously a large descrepancy there.
I will say, though, if Tiger drifts to +300 I am taking it.