The 146th Open Championship will be played at Royal Birkdale in 2017, a venue at which the Open has previously been won by players with a rich Open Championship history such as five-time Champions Peter Thomson and Tom Watson. Dual Open winners Arnold Palmer and Lee Trevino have also won here, whilst Padraig Harrington won his second Open Championship the last time it was held here in 2008.
The evidence that the cream often rises to the top in such events is also backed-up by the leaderboard from 2008, with the likes of Ian Poulter, current Open Champion Stenson and Greg Norman chasing him home, whilst Jim Furyk and Ernie Els also made the top-10.
Therefore, on the class-front, it’s not hard to make a case for market leaders Rory McIlroy (9/1), Dustin Johnson (9/1), Jason Day (10/1) or Jordan Spieth (12/1), as Rory would be joining those previous dual-winners, whilst the other trio are all major winners, and have already been placed in an Open Championship. However, at this stage of proceedings, it’s hard to imagine that any of them will be much shorter than their current odds come July.
Henrik Stenson (20/1) and Sergio Garcia (25/1) also have excellent Open pedigrees but, whilst everyone in world-golf would love to see Garcia win, or Stenson defend his crown, neither tend to set the world alight in the early part of the season – and may well be even bigger-prices come July.
However, one world-class player whose price could be slashed if he hits form is Justin Rose (33/1), as the former US Open Champion is likely to receive plenty of press coverage in the run-up to the big-day, as it was at Royal Birkdale that Rose finished 4th as an amateur in 1998. He doesn’t have the best of Open records but, if he’s to lift the Claret Jug anywhere, it may well be here.
The other four value-selections are all on offer at triple-figure prices, and the previous champion Padraig Harrington (150/1) will surely have no bigger motivation than playing well here in 2017. Just the memories of 2008 will make him feel a foot-taller as he walks the fairways, and he’s shown some fair form in the last two seasons despite his advancing years.
Another player who catches the eye from the 2008 Leaderboard is Chris Wood (100/1), who was finishing in the top-5 for the second year at the Open Championship. Admittedly, he’s not done much in the Open since but, having won the 2016 BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, the 29-year-old may well be reaching his peak.
A young Englishman who seems to love Links golf is Tyrell Hatton, and the 2016 Dunhill Links Champion is expected to continue to progress in 2017, and it would be no surprise if he bettered the sixth-place finish he recorded at Troon last season.
Finally, the 2015 Dunhill Links Champion Thorbjorn Olesen (200/1) is also worth a bet. He really does blow hot and cold, but he’s blown hot around Links courses on more than one occasion in the last few years, and won twice towards the end of the 2016 season.
Justin Rose 1 Point Each-Way @ 33/1 (William Hill) ¼ odds 5 places
Padraig Harrington 1 Point Each-Way @ 150/1 (Bet365, Betfred) ¼ odds 5 places
Chris Wood 1 Point Each-Way @ 100/1 (Betfred) ¼ odds 5 places
Tyrell Hatton 1 Point Each-Way @ 100/1 (Bet365) ¼ odds 5 places
Thorbjorn Olesen 1 Point Each-Way @ 200/1 (Coral) ¼ odds 5 places