Some of the best golf handicappers in Las Vegas gathered Monday night at a bar off the Strip for a British Open betting draft.
I also took part. They must have needed the dues.
My first foray into this realm was for a U.S. Open draft in June. I liked my chances when my name was pulled out of a hat for the No. 1 pick, which I turned into Dustin Johnson. But he missed the cut at Erin Hills amid the thick fescue and so did my team of eight golfers (count top four scores).
I should have known I was in trouble when I took former PGA Championship winner Jimmy Walker with my final pick. Someone laughingly said that Walker had Lyme disease. I thought they were joking. They weren’t.
This time around, I had the ninth and final pick in a snake draft — during which someone else took Walker despite my warning.
I selected Sergio Garcia at No. 9 and Tommy Fleetwood at No. 10. I was pleased to learn Tuesday that — besides my team being disease-free — sharp golf handicapper Wes Reynolds also likes Garcia, who is 15-1 to win his second major of the year.
Reynolds (@WesReynolds1) almost swept the links board last weekend, cashing in on Bryson DeChambeau to win the John Deere Classic at 50-1 odds and Sung Hyun Park to win the U.S. Women’s Open at 15-1. He narrowly missed cashing a 290-1 ticket on Callum Shinkwin to win the Scottish Open when the Englishman missed a 4-foot par putt on the final hole that would have won the tournament.
“This is one of the tournaments I had circled for Garcia. I bet he’d win a major this year. I just didn’t think it would be the Masters,” Reynolds said. “He finally has the monkey off his back after winning at Augusta, and before the Masters, he had 22 top 10s at majors and 10 of them were at the (British) Open. He’s come close.
“He’s been playing pretty steady, he’s getting married (July 29), and he’s so good at this type of links golf.”
Jeff Sherman, Westgate sports book manager and resident golf oddsmaker, also likes Garcia’s chances to contend for the claret jug at Royal Birkdale in Southport, England.
“This course is more about game management than length. Someone like Sergio should do real well,” Sherman said. “He has a fantastic British Open history, and he really should be in the mix with his type of game and this type of course.”
Johnson and Jordan Spieth are the 12-1 co-favorites, while Rickie Fowler and Jon Rahm are alongside Garcia at 15-1.
Spieth has generated the most money and Fowler the most tickets at William Hill sports book.
“The only way you can bet this tournament is to take long shots. Anyone over 100-1 is live in this one,” William Hill sports book director Nick Bogdanovich said. “Everybody is in double digits, that tells you how wide open it is.”
Indeed. Past British Open winners include 500-1 long shots Ben Curtis (2003) and Todd Hamilton (2004), and 59-year-old Tom Watson and 53-year-old Greg Norman were in contention in the final round in 2008 and 2009.
“The Open is a very, very tricky golf tournament to handicap,” Bogdanovich said. “There’s so much luck involved with the weather. Anything’s possible.”
Bogdanovich considers every player in the field a sleeper, but singled out Kevin Kisner (100-1), Brian Harman (125-1) and Tony Finau (150-1).
Reynolds also likes Harman, along with Fowler, Alex Noren (40-1), Matt Kuchar (50-1), Marc Leishman (50-1), Branden Grace (50-1), Brandt Snedeker (60-1) and Soren Kjeldsen (150-1).
Fleetwood was the biggest mover at the Westgate, dropping from 40-1 to 20-1. He finished fourth at the U.S. Open, and Royal Birkdale is his home course as he’s from Southport.
“He should have an advantage over the other guys,” Sherman said.
Sherman also likes Englishman Ian Poulter (60-1), Rahm, Thomas Pieters (40-1) and Francesco Molinari (80-1).
Among the sea of matchups and prop bets are two that have trended under in recent majors, including the first two this year: winning score (275½) and lowest round (64½).
Padraig Harrington (60-1) won the British Open the last time it was played at Royal Birkdale in 2008. I picked him in the fourth round. I’m pretty sure he’s healthy.
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0354. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.