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Bettors banking on Rory McIlroy to win British Open

Updated July 16, 2019 - 6:53 pm

Rory McIlroy was born and raised in Northern Ireland, where as a 16-year-old he shot a course-record 61 at Royal Portrush, site of the 2019 British Open.

Not surprisingly, McIlroy is the 8-1 favorite to win the year’s final major — which tees off Thursday (10:30 p.m. PDT Wednesday) — and the four-time major champion is the runaway leader in tickets and money at Las Vegas sportsbooks.

“It’s not even close,” William Hill sportsbook director Nick Bogdanovich said. “They like the home country boy.”

An MGM Resorts bettor placed a $20,000 wager on Brooks Koepka at 6-1 odds Monday, but McIlroy is the ticket leader.

No Tiger tracks

“It’s the first time in a long time that that category is led by someone other than Tiger Woods,” The Mirage sportsbook manager Scott Shelton said.

Mcllroy also has a sizable edge in tickets at the Westgate over Koepka, who has won four of the past nine majors. Dustin Johnson is the money leader there after two notable bets on him: $6,000 at 12-1 and $3,500 at 14-1.

Xander Schauffele is third in tickets at the Westgate, followed by Justin Rose and Tommy Fleetwood. McIlroy is second in money, followed by Koepka, Woods and Louis Oosthuizen.

The largest wager on Woods at the Westgate is $600 at 20-1 odds.

“Probably because he hasn’t been playing much,” Westgate sportsboook manager Jeff Sherman said. “People like to see some type of form going into the tournament, but he’s only played 10 rounds since the Masters.”

Rahm in top form

Sherman and handicapper Wes Reynolds (@wesreynolds1) like Jon Rahm, who is at 16-1 after opening at 25-1. The Spaniard is in top form after firing a final-round 62 on July 7 to win the Irish Open. He’s also coming off his best finish in a major, placing third at the U.S. Open.

“He’s peaking at the right time,” said Reynolds, co-host of “Long Shots” on VSiN.

“Most open major”

The British Open has seen its share of long-shot winners, including 500-1 shots Ben Curtis in 2003 and Todd Hamilton in 2004.

With unpredictable weather on an unfamiliar course, Bogdanovich said no winner would surprise him.

“If you told me Haotong Li (150-1) or Matt Wallace (50-1) won, I wouldn’t bat an eye,” he said. “Shane Lowry (80-1) or Matthew Fitzpatrick (80-1). Anyone can win this tournament. Like the whole field.”

Reynolds said he played several golfers at better prices a few weeks ago, including Matt Kuchar (30-1), Justin Thomas (25-1), Henrik Stenson (25-1), Adam Scott (25-1) and Schauffele (20-1).

“Schauffele is a major form play. Four top sixes in last six majors,” Reynolds said. “Stenson and Scott are great ball-striking veterans that can play in the windy and rainy conditions.

“Kuchar is quietly having one of his best seasons. Eight of the last 11 Open winners were 35 or older, and Kuchar, Stenson and Scott all fit there.”

For longer shots, Reynolds recommends plays on Rafael Cabrera-Bello (60-1) and Patrick Reed (80-1).

“It’s the most open major,” Sherman said. “Especially if you’re looking down the board at the Europeans who are used to playing links courses.”

Royal Portrush is the home course of Graeme McDowell, but at 60-1 Sherman said the odds have been adjusted to account for that betting angle.

“It should be at least double those odds based on his form,” he said.

Sherman also played several golfers early at better odds, including Patrick Cantlay (25-1), Wallace (50-1) and Bernd Wiesberger (80-1), who won the Scottish Open on Sunday.

“I played a few based on how they’ve been playing recently,” Sherman said. “Patrick Cantlay is a guy I’m going to continue to support at all these big tournaments. Anything higher than 30-1 on him is good.

“Matt Wallace has done well this year. He’s from England and has been a constant on major leaderboards. Wiesberger just won the Scottish Open and can take some momentum out of that.”

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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