Open Championship Betting Preview

The Open Championship is the most uniquely interesting tournament on the schedule each year for both players and viewers. And after not having a “British Open” in 2020, the anticipation for the 2021 Open is hitting peak levels. This year, the tournament will return to Royal St. George’s for the first time since 2011, when Darren Clarke hoisted the Claret Jug.

Royal St. George’s Course Information

Located in Sandwich, Kent, England, Royal St. George’s is the only Open Championship course located in Southern England. The history of the course hosting this tournament dates back to 1894 when it became the first course outside of Scotland to host the Open Championship.

  • Par 70
  • 7,189 yards
  • Fine Fescue greens

Fine fescue is a grass type that is described by as “the basis for ‘running-golf,’ rather than the weed-grasses of ‘target-golf.’ FineGolf goes on to say, “Of all The Open venues Sandwich has the lowest average rainfall and should be a haven of fine fescue grasses and firm greens.”

Money quote from 2011

“I’m really enjoying the golf course,” said Phil Mickelson, neatly summing up the opinion of the vast majority. “I am very excited about the way the course is playing and the way it is set up. I think it is really fun out there.” – Phil Mickelson

-Golf Digest, 2011

Phil made that quote leading up to the 2011 Open. He then went on to nearly win the tournament, tying for second with Dustin Johnson. As a fan favorite, Phil is likely to be popular. But at 50-1, an outright bet could be in play, and his DFS prices are cheap ($7500 at DK, $8700 at FD).

Royal St. George’s Key Stats

Some may argue there is less of an emphasis on driving at this course, given its firm fairways. But positioning yourself properly off the tee is paramount to landing the ball on the putting surface with your approach. The problem with keeping the ball on the green with a links-style course is the hard green surfaces and interesting hazard options around the green.

‘It’s just one of those golf courses where, if you get aggressive with it, you can end up looking very silly,’ – 4-time Major and 2014 Open champion Rory McIlroy.

Today’s Golfer, 2021

Given the course setup, success around the green will also be a critical stat to excel in. So, the first two stats I’ll be honing in on are SG: ARG and Good Drives Gained.

GDG is measured by drives that either hit the fairway, or miss the fairway but the player hits the green or fringe in regulation. Good Drives Gained is similar to SG: T2G, but puts a heavier emphasis on driving.

I’ve made all the greens bigger by miles and brought a lot of them forward. The fairways are slightly wider and we’ve tried to make it so if you hit the fairway, you should hang in to the semi rough worst case, not into thick rough. – Royal St. George’s Course Manager Paul Larsen

Today’s Golfer

At any Open Championship, scrambling is going to be critical to staying atop the leaderboard. There is a steep drop in greens hit in regulation at an Open Championship, so Scrambling will be a key component of this model.

The other two tats I’ll include are Strokes Gained: Birdie or Better, and Strokes Gained: Ball Striking.

Open Championship Betting Preview – Royal St. George’s Betting Model
  • Good Drives Gained – 35%
  • SG: Around the Green – 20%
  • Scrambling – 20%
  • SG: Birdie or Better – 15%
  • SG: Ball Striking – 10%

In my original model, I used Opps Gained rather than scrambling. But as I researched the course more, it became apparent that if you can’t get yourself out of trouble, you may not make it to the weekend.

Over the past 50 rounds, Collin Morikawa stands atop the former model, ranking #2 in Good Drives, #2 in Birdie or Better, and #1 in both SG: Ball Striking and Opps Gained. The one place Mori needs to work on is strokes gained around the green, where he ranks 40th.

However, when Scrambling is taken into account, Mori drops to #27, as the 114th best Scrambler over the past 36 rounds.

Here is the full top 10 with a sample size of 50 rounds:
  1. Patrick Cantlay
  2. Webb Simpson
  3. Jordan Spieth
  4. Chris Kirk
  5. Cameron Tringale
  6. Paul Casey
  7. Shane Lowry
  8. Viktor Hovland
  9. Xander Schauffele
  10. Jon Rahm
If we shrink that sample size down to the past 36 rounds the list evolves:
  1. Patrick Cantlay
  2. Paul Casey
  3. Jordan Spieth
  4. Harris English
  5. Matthew Fitzpatrick
  6. Lucas Glover
  7. Abraham Ancer
  8. Brian Harman
  9. Chris Kirk
  10. Shane Lowry

And if we want to hone in more on recent form, here’s the top 10 in the past 24 rounds:

  1. Harris English
  2. Jordan Spieth
  3. Kevin Streelman
  4. Shane Lowry
  5. Sam Burns
  6. Paul Casey
  7. Jon Rahm
  8. Ian Poulter
  9. Alexander Noren
  10. Collin Morikawa

Dialing it down further, his time we’re looking at the past 24 rounds, but filtered with firm greens.

  1. Xander Schauffele
  2. Matthew Fitzpatrick
  3. Shane Lowry
  4. Jon Rahm
  5. Joaquin Niemann
  6. Jon Rahm
  7. Harris English
  8. Brooks Koepka
  9. Rickie Fowler
  10. Tyrell Hatton

Lastly, here is the top 10 if we filter out all rounds played in “calm” conditions, but still on firm greens:

  1. Shane Lowry
  2. Harris English
  3. Webb Simpson
  4. Matthew Fitzpatrick
  5. Rafa Cabrera Bello
  6. Taylor Gooch
  7. Paul Casey
  8. Joel Dahmen
  9. Abraham Ancer
  10. Tyrell Hatton
  11. Jon Rahm

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