Preview and best bets for third round of golf’s Open Championship

Golf betting tips: The Open Championship round three

0.5pt e.w. Robert MacIntyre to shoot the lowest third-round score at 50/1 (Sky Bet 1/4 1,2,3,4,5)

1pt e.w. Justin Thomas to shoot the lowest third-round score at 25/1 (BoyleSports 1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6)

1pt Talor Gooch to beat Bryson DeChambeau at 2/1 (BoyleSports)

1pt double MacIntyre and Thomas to win their two-balls at 1.98/1 (Sky Bet)

1pt double Casey and Scheffler to win their two-balls at 2.96/1 (Sky Bet)

Sky Bet odds | Paddy Power | Betfair Sportsbook

The top of the Open Championship leaderboard is so familiar that the surnames might as well read Keaton, Kint, Fenster, Hockney and McManus. If Royal St George’s and its concrete volatility helps to explain the shock results of 2003 and 2011, then the rain and the willingness of the greens team to apply more water has all but guaranteed that the name of the last man standing will have been right there in front of us from the start this time. Still the question remains: who is Keyser Soze?

At the moment, Louis Oosthuizen just about heads the wanted list, owing to a second-round 64 which saw him threaten the lowest 36-hole score in the history of the Open. In the end, a bogey at the 16th, his first of the tournament, cut his lead over Collin Morikawa to just two, which puts them about level in terms of performance — Morikawa is the only player from the wrong side of the draw in the top six, having overcome a two-stroke disadvantage to get there.

With Jordan Spieth third, Dustin Johnson fourth, Jon Rahm having charged to 12th alongside Brooks Koepka and even defending champion Shane Lowry now somewhat on the premises, Oosthuizen would be forgiven for wondering when he’ll get a break. Eleven years ago, when he won the Open from the front, veteran Mark Calcavecchia was his nearest pursuer at halfway, and amateur Jin Jeong was inside the top five. This time he’ll have to see off several of the best players in the world, most of them with majors already won.

After losing the US Open to a pair of Rahm birdie putts which almost defied belief, a month after he’d lost the PGA Championship to a 51-year-old Lazarus who has since played more like Robert Garrigus; with six runner-up finishes in majors already behind him, and having retained his class through all of it, Oosthuizen deserves a bit of luck. To my mind that’s all it would’ve taken to make him a multiple major champion, and it is neither fair nor accurate to imply that he’s thrown six chances away. For the most part he just hasn’t won.

Benign conditions for the weekend probably help the 5/2 favourite, whose best performances in the Open have come when scoring has been low. His gorgeous swing and its even tempo can be knocked off course by wind, and it could also be to his benefit that those in the chasing pack may feel the need to push if they don’t start well. Royal St George’s has played easier than ever before, but it has enough about it to punish the reckless.

As was the case at the PGA, and in the US Open, my view on Oosthuizen is that he won’t go far. Cynics might nod while suggesting we should be asking for prices on him finishing second. I think he can go one place better this time, although he could do without watching Morikawa hit it pin high all day while Spieth charges alongside a friend and former college teammate in the group ahead. There’s no room for manoeuvre, and therefore no real appeal in 5/2.

Sky Bet’s ‘without the top three’ market has Johnson as favourite and I’d be tempted to take him on with Scottie Scheffler, but for a price which looks on the skinny side. There are 36 players within four of this ‘lead’ and just three places on offer, which makes 13/2 look short. Meanwhile the 50/1 about Dylan Frittelli in the outright market is generous on the basis of his performance so far this week, and I like the fact he plays with Spieth, but he arrived here with precisely no worthwhile form in 2020.

It’s all set up for a fascinating weekend’s entertainment, but if there’s a bet in the outright market I can’t see it. Best to wait, to see if Oosthuizen can cruise clear or else to see who exactly will lay down the strongest challenge. Chances are it’s Spieth, who might’ve been a couple lower on Friday, or Morikawa. The usual six-hundred words when a dozen would’ve done.

What is the best bet on Saturday?

If you are of the view that Oosthuizen will be beaten, back a US winner at a shade of odds-on. For that you get Spieth, Morikawa, Johnson, Koepka and Scheffler, and even at the best market prices currently available there’s a smidgeon of value in 4/5. Should you believe that Oosthuizen’s chance is overestimated, that value soon balloons.

That said I’m more inclined to fire a couple of small bullets in the lowest third-round score market, where there’s enough in the weather forecast’s hint of late gusts to take on the contenders. Rahm might be done in time and is the right favourite, but in a 77-player field I would much rather chance ROBERT MACINTYRE at 50s.

The Scot deserves enormous credit for making birdie at the last to take his sequence of cuts made in majors to a perfect seven-from-seven, and I expect he’ll take a lot from that. With the Ryder Cup approaching, he also knows it’s important to capitalise on this free roll at bagging some precious points, especially having seen Shane Lowry, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Justin Rose all outperform him so far.

“I’m hitting it beautifully. Some of the best shots I’ve hit in a long time,” he said on Friday, confirming too that he has plenty of family and friends around for the weekend. From an early tee-time alongside the affable Brendan Steele, he looks a prime candidate to make a move before putting his feet up just as the leaders start heading to the driving range.

JUSTIN THOMAS is the other I like and while 25/1 might seem a short enough price in a competitive heat, he played nicely on Friday and is among those who was caught in the worst of the weather during a frustrating first round.

Thomas has a couple of third-round 64s and one 62 to his name this season, and one of the most electric players in the world looks as likely as just about anyone. If those winds which are forecast to arrive around 7pm do materialise then even Rahm might face a tricky finish and Thomas, who remains alongside Adam Scott, might’ve posted a low one by then.

Those two rate a solid two-ball double (1020 BST and 1205 BST) while later on, PAUL CASEY can outperform Justin Harding (1505 BST) and SCHEFFLER rates a value play against Johnson (1535 BST).

Casey is fairly self-explanatory as by far the superior player. Harding isn’t dismissed lightly but he is capable of a shocker, and more to the point calm conditions should give his partner the edge, as it’s Casey who boasts the better long-game. If anything, he’s struggled in this event because of the wind, but as he said himself earlier this week, the course is set up to reward ball-strikers.

After a frustrating 68 to begin, in which he plainly putted badly, Casey improved on the greens to remain within sight of the leader and there are echoes of 2010, when he trailed Oosthuizen but emerged as the biggest threat with an excellent third round under low-scoring conditions.

It’ll be a surprise if he’s not a bit too good for Harding, while Scheffler has simply been playing better than Johnson for a while now and that makes him look overpriced at touching 6/4. He has some high-profile experience which will help, matching Johnson’s closing 68 in the final round of last year’s PGA Championship, and is building a seriously impressive major record.

Scheffler has finished ahead of Johnson in five of their last six appearances and though Johnson’s experience, class, status and the rest means he has to be favourite, for my money it should be by the finest of margins.

Finally, a small play on TALOR GOOCH to beat Bryson DeChambeau (0930 BST) looks to offer value at 2/1.

Gooch seems to be hitting it well and DeChambeau, who has faced more criticism and had to be hunted down by the US media for comment on Friday evening, has had a bit of a nightmare weekend. He’s good at blocking it all out in fairness, but he’s also likely to throw everything at it on Saturday morning and if it goes wrong, it may not take much of a score for Gooch to land this bet.

A very capable operator in his own right, Gooch has never played with the 2020 US Open winner before but is an unflappable sort who should probably be closer to the 6/4 mark here.

Posted at 2215 BST on 16/07/21

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