The Open Championship is not only one of the best sporting weeks of the year, but it also provides one of the most enjoyable betting weeks into the bargain, writes Phil Casey.
As well as being able to bet on the winner at Royal Birkdale, numerous other markets are available and can offer some excellent value for the savvy punter, one of which is the top-10 finish market.
That especially applies when it comes to amateurs, who have a history of good performances in the Open, albeit with the exception of last year at Troon, when none made the halfway cut.
Twelve months earlier, Jordan Niebrugge finished in a tie for sixth at St Andrews and Ashley Chesters and Oli Schniederjans were tied for 12th, with Paul Dunne leading after 54 holes before fading to 30th and Romain Langasque (65th) also making the cut.
The last time Birkdale hosted the Open, Chris Wood was fifth as an amateur and 10 years earlier Justin Rose famously holed a 45-yard pitch on the 72nd hole at the same venue to seal fourth place.
With that in mind, it is worth looking at the prices available for the five amateurs in the field this year, namely Maverick McNealy, Harry Ellis, Alfie Plant, Luca Cianchetti and Connor Syme.
McNealy is second in the world amateur rankings and has won 11 college events for Stanford, equalling the record held by Tiger Woods and Patrick Rodgers. At 40/1 he is the lowest price in the Open top-10 odds, but claimed just half a point from three matches in the 2015 Walker Cup at Royal Lytham and better value can be found elsewhere.
Ellis and Plant come into the week on the back of dramatic wins in the Amateur Championship and European Amateur respectively, with Ellis attending the same university as recent US Open winner Brooks Koepka.
However, our selection in the top-10 finish market is Italy’s Luca Cianchetti, who won the European Amateur title in 2016 and has remained in the unpaid ranks to take up his place at Birkdale. Cianchetti won on the Alps Tour at 19 and also reached the semi-finals of this year’s Amateur Championship, all of which makes 80/1 for a top 10 quite appealing.
Best of the tournament specials
Elsewhere in the Open Championship specials, odds of 3/4 on there being a hole-in-one during the week initially appear rather short, especially when the par threes will be played at 199, 177, 183 and 200 yards respectively. But the fourth and seventh play downhill and all four could be shortened in the event of poor weather, so the short price is worth taking.
Last but not least, 3/1 on there being a play-off is worth a bet given that the par-five 17th offers a chasing pack a good chance to make up ground, while the 18th will not be an easy par for anyone trying to hold on for a life-changing win.
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