Unibet UK’s Jack Milner shares his picks for the 2019 Open Championship at Royal Portrush with European players dominating his selections.
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The Open Championship heads to Portrush, where I think a lot of the market principles may struggle in the unique and idiosyncratic course. The Claret Jug hasn’t been settled in Northern Ireland for 68 years and Rory McIlroy is the 8/1 favourite to keep the locals happy this week. Me personally, I just can’t see him winning, especially if any further rain hits the course, and the same applies to fellow ‘bombers’ Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson.
Eddie Pepperell is a popular pick for those closer to home, and was arguably unlucky not to make a winning return at The Irish Open two weeks ago. That Top Ten finish was followed by another stellar showing last week in Scotland and he looks to have had an ideal prep to give it a good go at Portrush. The Englishman produced a terrific weekend to narrowly miss out on The Claret Jug 12months ago and is worth a punt at around the 80/1 mark and up to ten places with some layers.
Joe Root has already ensured it’s been a great week for Sheffield sport, helping England to the World Cup in Sunday’s dramatic defeat of New Zealand and fellow Blades fan Matthew Fitzpatrick looks primed for a good week in Northern Ireland. A bogey at 18 put the dampeners on another excellent week, and another top ten finish last week in Scotland, but his iron-play and putting looks tailor-made for Portrush and, despite him being backed already, I like his chances (despite his ever-shortening price) at around 66/1.
I’m loathed to overlook Xander Schaufelle and Patrick Cantlay, with the former achieving five top ten finishes from just ten major appearances, and rewarding column readers with place money in both The Masters and The US Open. The latter likewise came with a wet sail to seal a top-five finish at Augusta and I wouldn’t be surprised to see both be competitive at around the 25/1 mark, but nevertheless I’m willing to chance others at three-figure prices.
Given his form in links golf conditions Thorbjorn Olesen looks too big at the 100/1 mark. The Dane was T15 in The Irish Open and is a previous runner-up at The Dunhill Links. He must go well at a price.
Compatriot Lucas Bjerregaard missed the cut in Scotland after a disappointing second round but likewise has form over the Dunhill Links, winning the revised shotgun start last year, and will relish conditions. He has crept under the radar but is probably too big at 250/1.
The first round leader market is a minefield with 20/1 the field, but I prefer those going out early and, given his recent form in the early rounds of majors, I like the chances of Kevin Kisner at 100/1. Kisner missed the cut in Scotland after opening rounds of 70 and 71 however, that should give him further time to refine his game before a much more significant week. The South Carolina native excellent at Carnoustie 12 months ago and could prove a similar sleeper at a likewise three-figure price. The two Danes already advised could similarly be worth a tickle at 80/1 and 125/1 respectively.
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