Following a two-year wait, the 2021 Open Championship returned to Royal St. George's in England. Halfway through the final major of the season, and the leaderboard truly has an international flavor.
First round leader Louis Oosthuizen took control on the back nine Friday with a birdie, birdie, eagle stretch to extend his lead at the British Open. The 38-year-old South African became a +135 live favorite at one leading online sportsbook after he eagled the par 5 at No. 14 to take a 3-shot lead on Collin Morikawa, and 4-shots in front of Jordan Spieth.
Oosthuizen is ranked No. 13 in the world, yet he has just one career win on the PGA TOUR - winning the Claret Jug in 2010 at St. Andrews. He has one other top-10 finish in The Open. I actually bet against him in a tournament match-up - put a double-bogey on Fairway's card!
Oosthuizen now leads The Open at 11-under par, and his 129 total on the par 70 at Royal St. George's is a new 36-hole scoring record at the British Open.
Rising American superstar and 2020 PGA Championship winner Collin Morikawa made his British Open debut this year. No player has won The Open Championship on debut since Ben Curtis in 2003. That event was also at Royal St. George's, and Curtis was ranked No. 396 in the world with odds to win ranging from 300/1 to 500/1. Morikawa is currently ranked No. 5 in the world. His odds to win The Open are +475 at BetOnline.
It is possible to have huge longshots with that great of discrepancy in odds. I'm holding a pizza slice bet to win The Open on South African Justin Harding at 750/1. He had odds at other online sportsbooks below 300/1. Harding is 6-under par heading into the weekend after shooting a pair of 67s. My favorites and bets of interest did not included any golfers below 30/1, and Fleetwood (-2), Hatton (+2 cut) and Garcia (-3) are among a few others who are not likely to hoist the Claret Jug this year. The posted match-ups have been solid this season, now 19-9. I'll need a few other tournament match-up bets to come through this weekend to avoid a bogey betting finish at The Open.
British Open scores through 36 holes
-7 Frittelli, Scheffler, Dustin Johnson
-6 Grillo, Harding, Siem, Sullivan, van Tonder
-5 Casey, Hughes, Koepka, Rahm
Leading online sportsbooks like BetOnline have live in-play betting on the British Open with adjusted odds. As Louis Oosthuizen made his run on the back nine in Round 2, his odds to win dipped below +200 following his eagle on No. 14. Dustin Johnson's three straight birdies that ended at No. 14 saw his live odds to win go to +900 before a bogey at No. 15 dropped his odds to +1100. Now he's +750 to win and four shots off the lead into Round 3 Saturday. Jordan Spieth is +500, and BetOnline is going to win big on The Open futures, with only minor liability on Oosthuizen and Morikawa, and no other golfers of concern in the major chase.
Approx. pre-tournament odds and current odds through 36 holes
|Golfer||Pre-Tourney Odds||Current Odds|
|Sullivan||+27500||N/A, field +2000|
Historical Situations and Stats
I saw a tweet about Louis Oosthuizen position on the leaderboard over his last nine rounds in majors this year that includes the PGA Championship, U.S. Open and British Open.
T1, 3, T2, T1, T3, T1, 2, 1, 1
Oosthuizen did benefit from the early start Thursday and late start Friday, and same for Spieth. Players in that wave had a scoring average more than 2-strokes better than those starting late Thursday and early Friday (140.15 vs 152.56), via Justin Ray Golf. A total of 30 players are -3 or better through 36 holes, and 22 of them went out early/late.
Other notes, stats and historical trends include:
Three of the top-5 on the leaderboard are former University of Texas golfers: Spieth, Dylan Frittelli and first-time British Open starter Scottie Scheffler.
Seven of the top 10 players in the world golf rankings made the cut, but Patrick Cantlay, Patrick Reed and Tyrrell Hatton did not.
I did make a prop bet 'under' winning score of 272.5 (par 70 - 280), and that's in great shape with record scoring. There have been a British Open record 110 rounds in the 60s through two rounds, and the tournament record of 148 at Turnberry in 1994 looks like it will be broken with the weather looking good and relative light wins also in the forecast.
Collin Morikawa, 24, is shooting to match Tiger Woods as the only players in history to win the PGA Championship and British Open before age 25. Morikawa can also become the first player to ever win his debut in two major championships.
Dustin Johnson shot 65 on Friday, and DJ now has nine rounds of 65 or lower in major championships, the second-most of any player in the modern major championship ear (Tiger Woods, 10).
Match-ups and Bets
If you're considering an adjusted odds bet to win, know that in the past 60 years, 90 percent of The Open champions have been inside the top 10 through 36 holes. That would be 6-under-par or better thus far. However, 2018 British Open champions Francesco Molinari was 6-shots back through 36 holes and went on to win at a more difficult course at Carnoustie.
I'm still evaluating stats and third round match-ups, but here are some drawing most interest at William Hill. Recommend and bet for now in bold.
Oosthuizen (-110) vs Morikawa (-110)
Schauffele (-120) vs McIlroy
Spieth (-110) vs Johnson
Hovland (-110) vs Fitzpatrick (-110)
Rahm (-125) vs Koepka (+105)
Thomas (-140) vs Scott (+130)
Poulter (-110) vs Westwood (-110)
Simpson (-110) vs Fleetwood (-110)
Garcia (-110) vs Berger (-110)
Check back for additional updates and follow on Twitter for any bets.
FairwayJay is a proven sports handicapper and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful analysts. He chips in additional sports betting coverage and reporting on industry news and events. Read more great insights from FairwayJay and follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay