It’s the third week of July and that means it is Open Championship time. This year, golf’s oldest major will return to Royal Birkdale for the 146th playing of the event.
The tournament’s age isn’t its only identifying feature. The Open means battling ever-changing weather conditions, navigating brutal gorse and deep pot bunkers, and watching the drama unfold in the wee hours of the morning (assuming you’re in the States). That and more combine to make this tournament one of the most fun and unique events of the year.
Henrik Stenson (25/1) enters the week as the defending champion and will look to become the first back-to-back winner since Pádraig Harrington won at Carnoustie and Royal Birkdale in 2007 and 2008. Below are five other players that look like good picks this week.
Dustin Johnson (11/1): Johnson has the best odds of anyone in the field this week, and for good reason. He comes into Southport ranked No. 1 in the world and had four straight top-three finishes earlier in the year.
The favorite enters the tournament with plenty of rest, opting out of all competition since missing the cut at the U.S. Open last month. His best showing at The Open was a tie for second in 2011, but he has two additional top-ten finishes since then and has only missed the cut at this tournament once in eight starts.
Johnson’s talent allows him to contend in every start he makes and this week should be no different.
Jon Rahm (12/1): The last seven major champions have all been first-time winners. Rahm is the best bet to become the eighth.
He enters the third major of the year fresh off a top ten in the Open de France and a win in the Irish Open, two events that have led to Open Championship success in the past. It seems like just a matter of time before the Spainard collects his first major and it could very well come this week in England.
Hideki Matsuyama (20/1): There’s some definite value here at 20/1 odds for Matsuyama. In a tournament that places an extreme importance on keeping the ball straight and hitting greens in regulation, Matsuyama’s top-five ball-striking ranking should keep him in contention.
He finished tied for second at the U.S. Open and seems prime for a breakthrough at Royal Birkdale. Matsuyama will get his week started on Thursday at 10:09 a.m. local time.
Louis Oosthuizen (40/1): Oosthuizen has made every cut so far this year and already has one Open Championship title under his belt. He seems to step his game up a notch at this time every season and might be worth the gamble at 40/1.
He will be playing alongside Justin Rose and Justin Thomas for the first two rounds of the week, a deep and entertaining threesome that should bring out the best in each other.
Charl Schwartzel (80/1): Looking for a darkhorse? Schwartzel may be your guy.
The South African is a great wind player and finished tied for seventh at The Open three years ago. He’s also been playing some good golf as of late, placing third at Augusta in the first major of the year before a second place finish at the St. Jude Classic.