In just a couple days, Justin Rose jumped four players in the eye of the oddsmakers to become the co-favorite to win the 2014 British Open. A second straight win will do that, and Rose's victory late Sunday at the Scottish Open vaulted him up the oddsmakers' board and into a tie with Rory McIlroy at 14/1. A few days ago, McIlroy was the sole favorite at 10/1 but Rose's record and two consecutive victories were too hard to ignore. The Englishman will certainly have his fair share of support at Hoylake this week, and it's a perfect chance to back-up that 2013 U.S. Open with another major.
Rose may be the hottest golfer in the world, but that doesn't necessarily make him a great bet this week. Ironically, Britian's best golfer has a pretty horrible record at his national championship. His best result came during the 1998 breakthrough, when he finished T4 as an amateur and whipped up the natives into a hyping frenzy that the next great English golfer had arrived. The story has been documented over and over, but things didn't go smoothly for Rose when he turned pro just days after that dazzling result. He completely fell off the map, his talent unrealized until the last four or five years when he became a force on both sides of the Atlantic.
But even this newer, world-class incarnation of Rose has not been able to make a run at the Open Championship. His career results to date are mix of underwhelming and n/a, his best finish a T12 back in 2007. Here are his results in the 16 years since his first wildly successful Open appearance:
For someone so talented, and with so many career achievements, that's a startlingly bad record. Rose should be at home on the links of the Open rota, but for whatever reason, this tournament has never suited him.
On top of that history, Rose also comes to a venue this week with which he's totally unfamiliar. When he met with us after his Quicken Loans National win at Congressional a couple weeks ago, he was quick to point out that he had never played Royal Liverpool and "didn't know the course at all." It was a bit surprising to hear such a prominent English player say that about a course that has such prominence and history in the rota. When the Open was held here in 2006, he was still off wandering in search of his game and not good enough to qualify for and play in major championships. His scouting report from the last time the Open was held here and he was watching on TV:
Rory likes Tiger's chances at Hoylake
Tiger Woods has a snowball’s chance in you know where of finally winning his 15th major title, according to Curtis Strange. Rory McIlroy could not disagree more, warning others not to write off Woods’ chances of lifting his fourth claret jug.
I just remember it being burnt out, really warm, people eating ice cream and Tiger winning. That's about my memory. I guess I've got some work to do.
Rose undoubtedly got some reps in at the course last week before heading up to Aberdeen and winning the Scottish Open, but a little more familiarity and comfort on the course would be reassuring for those taking the betting favorite.
So despite those back-to-back wins, Rose has some red flags as the co-favorite. McIlroy is not without his issues. He's also a UK native who doesn't prefer the links golf of an Open Championship. He's got a high-ball hitting game that can get blown away in the links wind, and is better suited to the parkland courses of America. But that game held up at Kiawah's Ocean Course three years ago during that runaway PGA Championship win.
After those two co-favorites, it's a list of all the familiar big names who have a history of contending at the Open. Tiger Woods, who is almost always the favorite in every event he enters, is 18/1 behind four others. It's odd to not see Tiger in that top spot, but there was no way the oddsmakers could put him there with just two shaky competitive rounds since his late march microdiscectomy back surgery. That he's not on top gives you an indication of just how wide open this typically unpredictable major could be. Here are the updated odds with just 24 hours to go until the start of the 143rd Open (via Bovada):
|Miguel Angel Jimenez||80/1|
|Graham De Laet||100/1|
|Rafa Cabrera Bello||150/1|
|Brendon De Jonge||200/1|
|J B Holmes||200/1|
|Yong Eun Yang||250/1|
|Billy Hurley III||500/1|
|Dawie Van Der Walt||750/1|