The British Open: How to Bet, Tips, Odds and Betting Markets
How Does The British Open Work?
Although the championship is best known as the British Open around the world it is officially called The Open.
It takes place every July and is now the last major championship of every golfing summer.
The other three majors take place in the United States and that is not the only distinction of this tournament.
The British Open is always played on linksland, which is always close to the seaside and, indeed, which used to be beneath the sea.
That explains the unique nature of the test – the turf is sand-based and fast-running, the grass is dry and fine, the greens and fairways are naturally undulating, and the weather can change very quickly, moreover windy conditions are to be expected.
The championship is run by the Royal and Ancient which, along with the United States Golf Association, is the leading governing body of the sport, regulating the rules and equipment regulations.
The R&A is based in the Scottish town of St Andrews, known as the Home of Golf, and the town’s Old Course plays regular host to the Open – indeed, it will host the 150th Open in 2022.
The winner of the Open was originally presented with a championship belt but now he is awarded the Claret Jug, one of the most famous and unusual trophies in all of sport.
The leading amateur in the tournament wins a Silver Medal.
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British Open History
The first British Open took place at Prestwick in Scotland on a 12-hole course, playing three rounds.
The sport was very different then to now. Professional golfers were very rare and spent most of their time coaching and caddying for gentlemen.
Indeed, the most common form of competition was when these gentlemen betted on contests between two golfers (or two pairs of golfers).
The very first British Open had just eight players in the field and the winner was crowned ‘The Champion Golfer of the Year’ – a title that remains in use today.
Prestwick hosted the first 10 Opens before the tournament started to move around Scotland, and then, in the late 1890s, it started to visit English courses as well.
Today, the rotation remains with The Old Course in St Andrews the most regular host.
The tournament is loved across the world and famous for its knowledgeable galleries who walk the fairways and often climb spectacular dunes, for the grandstands which surround the final hole, and for the enormous yellow scoreboard which overlooks the 18th green.
British Open Past Champions
In the 19th century, the championship was not only dominated by Scottish golfers (they won the first 29 tournaments), but also by just two families.
Willie Park Sr. won the first Open in 1860 and would add another three victories. His son Willie Park Jr. won twice in the 1880s.
Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, the first two superstars of the sport, won four times each before the tragic death of the latter shortly after his last win in 1872.
Between 1894 and 1914 the so-called English ‘Great Triumvirate’ (Harry Vardon, J.H. Taylor, and James Braid) won 16 of 21 championships.
After the First World War, there was a third wave of specific national success in the form of 12 American wins in 13 tournaments.
But then from 1934 to 1961, there were only two US winners (Sam Snead in 1946 and Ben Hogan in 1953). Americans often preferred to play the PGA Championship, which clashed in the schedule.
In that period the South African Bobby Locke won four times and the linksland specialist from Australia Peter Thomson lifted the Claret Jug on five occasions.
Arnold Palmer revitalized the championship with his triumph in 1961. Suddenly other Americans wanted to win and commercial air travel made it easier for them to make the journey.
Between 1970 and 1983 Americans won all but one Open with Lee Trevino recording two, Jack Nicklaus three, and Tom Watson five wins.
There followed a period of renaissance for European golf led by the Spaniard Severiano Ballesteros who won in 1979, 1984 and 1988. Scot Sandy Lyle won in 1985 and Englishman Sir Nick Faldo in 1987, 1990 and 1992.
In the 21st century, Tiger Woods has won three times, while South African Ernie Els and Irishman Padraig Harrington have won twice.
In 2009 Tom Watson very nearly claimed victory at the age of 59, but lost in extra holes to Stewart Cink.
Henrik Stenson defeated Phil Mickelson in a spectacular head-to-head at Royal Troon in 2016 and Irishman Shane Lowry won in fine style when the Open returned to Northern Ireland in 2019.
Where is the British Open Played?
Unlike the Masters, but as with the PGA Championship and U.S. Open, the British Open travels around Great Britain and Ireland.
The venues are all linksland therefore by the sea, often in remote locations, and all with deep and rich histories.
Prestwick and Musselburgh, two of the original hosts, are no longer in use, but the Old Course at St Andrew’s remains on the rota, even though there are frequent worries that it remains vulnerable to modern golf and technology.
Royal Cinque Ports and Prince’s are two other layouts that have fallen out of favor.
Other than the Old Course, the championship visits Muirfield, Royal Troon, Carnoustie, and Turnberry in Scotland, Royal St George’s, Royal Liverpool, Royal Birkdale, and Royal Lytham & St Anne’s in England, and Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland.
That said, the R&A has not returned to Turnberry since Donald Trump bought it, not appreciating the prospect of having to deal with protests and unwanted publicity.
There are also rumors that Lytham no longer has the capacity to accommodate the enormous infrastructure required to host the event.
How do Players Qualify for the British Open?
The full field of 156 players is made up of roughly half who qualify by right and another half who earn their place.
Among those exempt are previous winners under the age of 60, winners of elite tournaments and select amateur events in the previous 12 months, top finishers in the previous championship, and players high in the world rankings and on the DP World and PGA Tours points lists.
Other players qualify at Open Qualifying Series events (normal tour events in which the top one, two, or three finishers not otherwise exempt earn an Open start).
Finally, there is Qualifying which starts with Local Qualifying and ends with Final Qualifying, shortly before the tournament itself.
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How to Bet on the British Open?
The obvious starting point is the tournament result: you can back a player to win, to place (top five, top ten, etc.), or each way (half the stake on the win, half on the place).
Beyond that, there are a number of other alternatives.
First Round Leader is a very popular market, as are group options: Top American or Top European, for example.
You can also back one player over another in 72-hole and 18-hole match bets which are mythical contests in the sense that the players don’t know they have been pitted against one another.
In each round, there will also be two or three ball contests relating to the official tee times groupings.
This is a tournament in which research will pay dividends, usually with regard to the course and conditions. It’s also true that some golfers simply don’t like links golf or are very vulnerable if the wind blows.
Ante-post Betting on the British Open
You will be able to bet on the next British Open within hours of the last one finishing and these ante-post markets will remain open all year.
Real value can be captured this way but also beware that the each-way terms tend to be more restrictive.
In the week of the tournament itself, books are hungry for golfing punters and also wider sports fans.
Big offers will be available, plus great place terms. Hunt around and get the best terms you can find.
Important Trends at the British Open
The 2021 Champion Golfer of the Year was Collin Morikawa and he broke quite a few trends.
He was a debutant at the championship and had shown no form on the linksland before his win.
As a twentysomething he was also a rarity – this is a major that tends to suit experienced golfers in their 30s.
Open winners do tend to be in form with a top 15 finish shortly before lifting the Claret Jug and a win in the season.
Since the Scottish Open moved to linksland it has proved to be a very good pointer – just playing in it never mind performing well.
Not playing in the week before the Open is not a good sign.
Why is the Host Course Important for Betting?
The course and the conditions have a huge impact on the outcome of every championship.
Shane Lowry, who had won the Irish Open in poor conditions on the linksland, did so again at Royal Portrush.
Jordan Spieth, winner at Royal Birkdale in 2017 and second in 2021, loves the creativity required on the linksland.
The Old Course at St Andrews is a slightly different prospect to the other courses on the rota – the winners there are sometimes not the best links performers elsewhere.
Royal St. George’s has famously humped fairways, Royal Birkdale and Royal Portrush sneak between the dunes, Royal Liverpool is very flat, and Carnoustie is a brutal test in windy conditions.
Muirfield is considered by many to be the finest test of them all.
Tips for the 2023 British Open
The 151st Open will head to Royal Liverpool GC in Hoylake, scene of the triumphs of Tiger Wood in 2006 and Rory McIlroy in 2014.
On both occasions the golf course was bone hard and the two winners outplayed the field. We can’t guess at the weather this far out but we can ask ourselves about players who are currently being overlooked.
In reality the best linksland performers have been highlighted but one name does interest.
Joohyung Kim has played so well this summer that he has fast-tracked himself to the PGA Tour, a process that was completed with victory in the Wyndham Championship.
He also loved his first experience of the British Open at St Andrews, carding a first round 69 on his way to T47th, a week after he finished third at the Scottish Open.
The Korean media is very excited about his potential and if he maintains the progress he has so far managed he might not be available at BetMGM current quote of +9000. It might be a real steal for next summer.
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Matt Cooper has been a sports journalist since 2009 with his work appearing at ESPN, Sky Sports, NBC, Sporting Life and the Planet Sport Network among many others, in addition to guest appearances on the BBC and CNN. Although a specialist in golf, who has traveled the world to cover the sport, Matt has also covered rugby, cricket, football and the Olympics. Email: [email protected]