We’re heading into the sixth and final major of the 2020-21 PGA Tour season. It feels longer than the two years we’ve had to wait since the last Open Championship, but the world’s best golfers finally have a run at the coveted Claret Jug from July 15 to 18.
This week, 156 players will take the field at Royal St. George’s in Sandwich, Kent, England, to play in the 149th edition of the tournament. The Open Championship has been played 14 times to date at this course, with the most recent coming in 2011, and if past experiences are anything to go by – there are plenty of surprises in store.
In our 2021 British Open preview, we examine The Open Championship odds, tournament favorites and betting options, course, and key stats you need to keep in mind.
2021 British Open: Favorites
As we edge closer to opening day, here are the betting odds for the 2021 British Open favorites:
- Jon Rahm +750
- Brooks Koepka +1400
- Xander Schauffele +1600
- Jordan Spieth +1800
- Justin Thomas +1800
- Rory McIlroy +1800
- Dustin Johnson +2000
- Louis Oosthuizen +2800
- Patrick Cantlay +2800
- Viktor Hovland +3000
- Bryson DeChambeau +3000
- Par 70 | 7,189 yards
- Front nine: Par 35 (six par 4s, two par 3s, one par 5) | 3,620 yards
- Back nine: Par 35 (six par 4s, two par 3s, one par 5) | 3,569 yards
A decade after its last appearance and a year later than originally planned, The Open Championship finally returns to the Garden of England. Players will take to the best course in England at the Sandwich links in Kent, and with this unpredictable course, anything is possible.
Rory Mcllroy famously described this weekend’s course as “One of those golf courses where, if you get aggressive with it, you can end up looking very silly.” So, what is it about Royal St. George’s that makes it such a tough task for golfers of all abilities?
At 7,189 yards and a Par 70, it’s a course that’s shorter than most, but it’s not the length that will cause most of the issues. It’s exposed to every element that Mother Nature has on offer: There are dramatic dunes, undulating and crumpled fairways, blind shots, massive bunkers, and much more that players will have to contend with.
The lies on this course are incredibly tight, so expect some putting off the green; there are lots of subtle breaks, a couple of 50 to 60-yard aprons, and some unusual yardages. All of these combine to create one of the most difficult courses, and every player will have to try and stick to the fairway if they want a chance of lifting the Claret Jug.
Key Stats for Royal St. George’s Golf Club to Consider Before Betting
A good starting point for building out a betting card for The 2021 British Open is finding the players that have performed in their last 24 rounds in the following categories:
Strokes Gained: Approach
This is probably the most important statistic to consider this week when picking your British Open players. Given that this is a relatively short course that needs more strategy than most, strong approach play will be vital. Difficult green complexes and more than a few greenside bunkers mean that players cannot afford a misfire on approach at any cost.
Strokes Gained: Off the Tee
You’d be forgiven for thinking this isn’t a key statistic for Royal St. George’s given its shorter length; however, off the tee will still be essential. This is down to the strategically placed bunkers on the fairways that will need length to carry. Of course, accuracy is massive here, too, considering the deep and punishing rough on each side of the fairway.
Strokes Gained: Ball-Striking
This is undoubtedly a difficult course, and there will be an emphasis on ball-striking. Greg Norman (1993; -13) is the only player to have won on this course with a score better than -5.
Strokes Gained: Around the Green
There will be some difficult lies on this course, and around the green play will be essential. Short-game creativity is key in links-style golf, and players will need to get out of some unusual positions.
Sand Saves: Gained
Royal St. George’s has some of the most terrifying bunkers of any course. The Himalaya bunker on hole 4 is the second largest in England at more than 40 feet. The fate of many golfers on this course will be decided by how they can manage the sand.
Strokes Gained: Tee to Green
Royal St. George’s is located Southeast of London and runs between the English Channel and the North Sea, which means that it’s only wise to assume windy conditions. Players will have to be on top of their distance and trajectory in arduous coastal wind conditions.