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One of the most entertaining ways to get into golf betting is by playing in an Open Championship pool. For major tournaments, even the most casual fans are looking to get in on the action. This week, the players tee it up at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, the first time the course has hosted the British Open since 2014.
Because it’s impossible to cover the rules for every specific Open Championship pool, I’ll make picks for the most common version. Generally, pools breaks golfers into tiers and you pick one player from each tier. In the past, the tiers were almost exclusively based on World Golf Rankings.
However, thanks to LIV Golf and elevated PGA Tour events throwing a wrench into things, I’ve noticed many British Open pools are going to betting-odds-based tiers.
So, for the purposes of these Open Championship pool selections, I will use DraftKings odds (as of Tuesday), breaking golfers into groups of 10 for the Top 50 (ish) and then give one “long-shot” pick.
British Open Championship Pool Picks
Tier 1: Rory McIlroy, Scottie Scheffler, Jon Rahm, Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka, Viktor Hovland, Tyrell Hatton, Patrick Cantlay, Rickie Fowler, Xander Schauffele
Top Pick: Scottie Scheffler
I’m backing Scheffler this week as far as the “Big 3” goes. This is the one thing I don’t like about pools that group the top 10 players together. Everyone is going to pick Scheffler, McIlroy or Rahm. Perhaps a few might grab Cam Smith. Probably some Koepka. But it generally takes the other five players off the board completely.
In this situation, I like Scheffler most. He’s the best golfer on the planet and he’s remarkably consistent. Even if he doesn’t win, he’s not going to kill you with a disaster finish. He’s posted seven-consecutive Top 5 finishes. It’s actually nuts that he hasn’t won since the PLAYERS in March.
The last time he finished outside the Top 12 in a golf tournament was OCTOBER. That’s 19-straight top-12 finishes. Ludicrous.
Pivot Pick: Rickie Fowler
It’s hard to avoid the Big Three at the top, but if you want to really play contrarian, give Rickie Fowler a long look. Fowler is playing incredible golf this season and finally got that win a few weeks ago. He’s still hunting his first major victory, so there’s still some pressure on him.
Still, I think he got some of the nerves out with a late fade at the US Open. Fowler had success in the 2014 Open Championship, the last time it was held at Royal Liverpool, finishing tied for second. He finished Top 10 in the 2019 British Open, too.
Because of Scheffler’s insane consistency, Fowler is flying a little bit under-the-radar. Fowler has 12 Top 20 finishes in his past 15 tournaments. He faded last week at the Scottish Open, but entered Sunday in striking distance of another high finish. He can absolutely win this golf tournament.
Player to Fade: Rory McIlroy
Fade is a strong word. I’m not necessarily betting against Rory McIlroy, but I just like Scheffler better. And in this tier, you have to choose between the two. I also like Jon Rahm slightly better than McIlroy, too. And, quite honestly, I’d rather pivot to Fowler than go with McIlroy since Rory is going to be insanely popular among Open Championship pool players.
Can McIlroy win this golf tournament? Of course he can. And he might. I’d just rather ride with someone else.
Tier 2: Tommy Fleetwood, Jordan Spieth, Shane Lowry, Dustin Johnson, Collin Morikawa, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Justin Rose, Tony Finau, Sam Burns, Tom Kim
Top Pick: Dustin Johnson
I faded Johnson at the US Open and he posted a T10 finish. I’m not going to make the mistake again. Johnson is historically very good at Open Championships, having finished Top 10 in each of the past two years. Even while he was struggling to contend at the other majors, he continued to post great rounds across the pond.
And, he finished T12 in the 2014 British Open at Royal Liverpool. Plus, he’s playing really well on the LIV Golf tour right now. He won LIV Golf Tulsa in May, and has three Top 5 finishes in the past four tournaments. That includes a fifth-place finish last week.
His game is in a good place and he’s at a tournament and course that he generally plays well. Additionally, he’s fighting for a spot on the US Ryder Cup team.
Sign me up.
Pivot Pick: Shane Lowry
I love Shane Lowry here, too. I just like DJ a smidge better. But if you want to go away from DJ, Lowry is a great choice. He’s a former British Open champion, earning the crown in 2019. He hasn’t finished worse than 21st in any of the past three Open Championships. And, he finished Top 10 at Royal Liverpool in 2014.
Plus, his game is in excellent shape. He has three-straight Top 20 finishes and has reached the Top 20 in all three majors this year. Plus, he’s made 14 of 16 cuts this season. Close your eyes when he’s standing over his putter, but every other aspect of his game is damn-near elite.
Player to Fade: Matthew Fitzpatrick
I think Fitzpatrick is going to be very popular in Open Championship pools as a native countryman and recent major winner. But he missed the cut last week at the Scottish Open. He missed the cut at the PGA Championship, but did post a Top 10 at the Masters and a Top 20 at the US Open.
I’m not saying Fitzpatrick won’t compete, but he’s a risky play. And with his popularity likely to be high, let your poolmates that on that risk.
Tier 3: Max Homa, Cam Young, Bryson DeChambeau, Wyndham Clark, Robert MacIntyre, Min Woo Lee, Corey Conners, Talor Gooch, Patrick Reed, Justin Thomas
Top Pick: Wyndham Clark
I don’t understand how Clark is even in this tier. He deserves to be much higher. Clearly, Vegas thinks the US Open was a bit fluky, or that he can’t possibly win two majors in one year. However, the statistics say otherwise.
He played extremely well last week at the Scottish Open, just couldn’t make any putts. And for a player with his short game, that’s more of an anomaly than a concern. Among players who made the cut last week, Clark finished 8th in strokes gained: tee to green. He’s a bomber off the tee, has great irons and is an excellent short game player.
For all of those skills to be around 60-1 in the betting odds is crazy talk. He’s a two-time winner this season who’s getting very little respect. Good. Let other people overlook him.
Pivot Pick: Patrick Reed
Yes, I normally try to avoid risk here and Reed is a risky play. However, most golf fans hate him. That makes him generally less popular in pools because people don’t want to have to root for him. But he’s quietly played very well in the past two LIV Golf events, finishing Top 5 in both. He finished one shot behind winner Cameron Smith last week. And Smith is two tiers above him.
Yes, he hasn’t played particularly well at British Opens and did miss the cut at Royal Liverpool in 2014. And he’s desperate to make a case for the US Ryder Cup team. He needs a big finish here to even garner consideration, so call this one a gut feeling.
Player to Fade: Cam Young
Fans are going to remember him with a chance to win last year’s Open Championship and think he’s due for a repeat performance. He finished second last year in his British Open debut. And that was the fourth Top-3 finish in a stretch where he had five Top 5s in eight tournaments.
The point is that his game was in a much better place last season. He finished in a tie for seventh at this year’s Masters. Since then, his only decent finish was at the John Deere Classic in a severely watered-down field. He’s been cut or finished outside the Top 50 in six of his last eight tournaments. And, although he finished T32 at the US Open, he made the cut right on the number.
One more dropped shot there and we’d be talking about a guy with missed cuts in each of his past two major starts and seven out of eight tournaments outside the Top 50. Young is an easy avoid for me this year.
Tier 4: Hideki Matsuyama, Adam Scott, Ryan Fox, Sungjae Im, Russell Henley, Keegan Bradley, Brian Harman, Denny McCarthy, Jason Day
Top Pick: Hideki Matsuyama
This is a tricky tier. For me, it boils down to this: Hideki Matsuyama is too good at golf to be this far down the board. And, he’s playing reasonably well, too. He’s coming off of a missed cut at the Rocket Mortgage, so that’s not ideal. But prior to that, he had nine straight starts inside the Top 35 — including all three majors.
OutKick’s Geoff Clark is betting Matsuyama to win the whole thing, and I don’t hate that look. Regardless, when you get this far down the sheet, you need guys who are at least going to make the cut. Matsuyama hasn’t missed a major cut since 2019, a stretch of 13 consecutive tournaments.
Pivot Pick: Russell Henley
Henley sandwiched a fourth-place finish at The Masters and a T14 finish at the US Open between a missed cut at the PGA Championship. And, he finished T19 at the PLAYERS, the unofficial fifth major. And that missed PGA Championship cut is really the only blemish on his resume in the past four months.
Henley has eight Top 20 finishes in his past 10 tournaments. That includes three consecutive at elevated events last month: The Memorial, US Open and Travelers. Plus, he won in November. He tends to play well on tougher courses and hard setups. That’s exactly what the players are facing this week. He’s showed he can compete with the best players in the world, and figures to be under-selected in Open Championship pools around some of the other names on this list.
Player to Fade: Sungjae Im
Sungjae Im is known as a player who plays a TON of golf. He participates in almost every event on the PGA Tour. And, it might finally be catching up with him. He started the season by making 16 of 17 cuts. Since then, though, he’s missed four of the past seven cuts.
And three of those missed cuts are important: PGA Championship, US Open, Scottish Open. Two missed major cuts and a miss last week in Scotland. Not ideal. He hasn’t finished inside the Top 20 of any event since May. There are much better options in this tier for the British Open.
Tier 5: Si Woo Kim, Louis Oosthuizen, Byeong Hun An, Nicolai Hojgaard, Sahith Theegala, Joaquin Niemann, Gary Woodland, Padraig Harrington, Chris Kirk, Adrian Meronk, Branden Grace, Sepp Straka
Note: I expanded this tier to get all of the golfers priced below 200-1.
Top Pick: Louis Oosthuizen
There was a time when Louis Oosthuizen did not miss major cuts. In fact, he made 16-in-a-row from 2017-2021. That stretch included five Top 5 finishes, including a T3 at the 2021 Open Championship. But he has either withdrawn or been cut from four of his past five major starts. The only one he didn’t, the 2022 PGA Championship, he finished tied for 60th place.
So why on Earth am I backing him here? Well, I believe regression is coming. People assume regression is negative, but there’s a thing called positive regression. Oosthuizen clearly went through something during and after COVID and his move to LIV Golf didn’t help.
But there have been glimmers of hope over the past couple months. He’s coming off a fourth-place finish at LIV Golf London. He also finished 7th in LIV Golf DC two tournaments prior. His game is coming around. He finished T3 at the British Open in 2021, the last major in which he played well. He’s a former Open Champion (2010) and three-time Top 3 finisher. I think he’s in play this week.
Pivot Pick: Sepp Straka
Straka missed the cut last year in his British Open debut thanks to a horrendous first-round 81 before bouncing back with an even-par 72. That’s going to make Open Championship pool players very wary of him. But he’s another player whose game was in a much different place then. That missed cut represented one of six-straight MC for the Austrian-born golfer.
This year, though, he’s coming off a win at the John Deere Classic. Prior to that, he made five out of six cuts. He did miss the US Open cut, but finished 7th at the PGA Championship and made the cut at the Masters. Again, we need cutmakers at this part of the Open Championship pool. I think Straka gets across the line and may push for a Top 20 or Top 30 finish.
Player to Fade: Si Woo Kim
Kim has the shortest odds of anyone in this group, which is going to make him more popular than others. He’s a classic boom-or-bust player. That makes him a draw this far down the board. He finished fourth at The Memorial, a terrific finish at an elevated event. Kim made the cut at The Masters and the US Open but missed at the PGA Championship.
He also missed the cut at the Travelers, the last event he played. Kim finished T15 last year at the British Open. So why am I so low on him? This might seem crazy, but I hate the group he’s in for rounds one and two. He’s playing alongside Cameron Young and Bryson DeChambeau, two guys who absolutely bomb the ball off-the-tee. I think it’s going to mess with Kim’s mental game to constantly be 20-50 yards behind his playing companions.
Kim is a fairway-finder who doesn’t hit it far. But he might try to juice a few tee shots after watching Young and DeChambeau crank them out there. Again, sounds crazy. But that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.
“Longshots” Tier: Everyone Else
Top Pick: Thomas Detry
At this level, we’re looking for someone to make the cut. I think Detry is the best option. He finished T34 last year at St. Andrews and I think he can repeat that at Royal Liverpool. He shot an opening-round 64 at the Scottish Open last week, showing he can play — and play well — in these conditions.
Detry finished T40 at the PGA Championship, the only other major in which he’s competed this year, meaning he’s made the cut in his last two majors starts. He was also T10 last year at the Scottish Open and as a German-born player seems to like these European courses and is comfortable playing in the United Kingdom.
Pivot Pick: Anyone Else
Every player in this tier is 200-1 or worse and there are tons players to choose from. Just pick your guy in your British Open Championship pool and go with it. But, you know, temper your expectations.
Follow Dan Zaksheske on X – formerly known as Twitter: @RealDanZak