Joe Whitaker of ValueBet Bookmakers in Preston turns the spotlight on golf’s Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, which starts on Thursday.
With the prospect of the Lions touring New Zealand this summer, as pre-seasons go I knew 2017 wouldn’t be a bad one.
However this little matter of the 146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale was always at the top of my list.
From a personal point of view betting-wise, The Open is very much a case of the crossbar still rattling for myself.
I backed Louis Oosthuizen in 2015, who lost a play off to Zach Johnson at St Andrews, and Henrik Stenson who came runner-up to Phil Mickelson at Muirfield in 2013.
This year in Southport it looks as wide open as ever and as always finding the winner is very tough.
Five of the last seven winners have all posted a win during the season and that is the way I will be going myself.
That immediately puts the market leaders Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson in the spotlight.
Spieth won his second title this season on his latest start. At odds of around 16/1 this week he is quite tempting, much more so than fellow American Dustin Johnson.
I’m not convinced by either of them though, I must admit.
When the rain arrives on the Lancashire coast, will they be happy to grind out rounds to get in front come Sunday? They both have a serious chance, though for value I would look further down the list.
Someone with proven links golf experience and the all important win this season that I do fancy for Birkdale is Australian Marc Leishman.
He appears to be back to his very best after winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational this year.
He lost the play-off on The Old Course at St Andrews in 2015 and placed when Rory McIlory won at Hoylake the year before.
A great shotmaker and consistent off the tee, I cant see any reason why he wont be around come Sunday afternoon. We have him at 50/1 and I don’t fancy riding too much of a liability on this one.
There are plenty with serious chances of course and another player I see no reason not to back is US Open winner Brooks Koepka.
The sport’s newest major champion will come here confident now he is on the other side of the has he/hasn’t he major fence.
He strikes me as a player who will win more majors and he does have links form, finishing 10th at St Andrews in 2015. He is 33/1 and that looks a little bit of value to me.
It is of course a huge ask to complete the Open double, Tiger Woods the last to do so in 2000, though maybe we are due one now?
Another proven golfer in the forecast showery conditions is Surrey-based Danish player Soren Kjeldsen.
I watched him get across the line at Royal County Down in the Irish Open of 2015 and he seemed to thrive when the wind was blowing in and the rain was lashing.
He looks overpriced at 125/1 considering its a ¼ for 6 places. The win would very much be a bonus whilst the place market itself would bring welcome profit.
It would be wrong not to mention the fiery Ulsterman Rory McIlroy’s chances this week.
He has largely been written off by many, with his form not the best, though we all know he has the game to compete on a course like Birkdale. He looks a tasty each way bet for me at 20/1.
We are doing a special offer at ValueBet for this week’s golf, where if your player misses the cut you can get a free matched bet on another player.
It could definitely pay to get yourself down to West Park Avenue for your golf this week.
Enjoy folks, Joe