This week sees the start of the third golfing major of the year as 156 of the best players in the world will convene at Royal Birkdale Golf Course in Southport, Merseyside to contest the 146th running of The Open Championship. In this special preview article, we will review the tournament’s history, the course and the field before bringing you information of a fantastic offer from SkyBet which offers you the best ever Each Way betting opportunity on The Open championship.

Before we take a look at that offer in more detail, here’s a little information about the British Open, the course for 2017, and who are likely to be the players in contention come Sunday afternoon in this the oldest of all four of golf’s Majors.

The British Open – A recent history

The current champion of the British Open is Henrik Stenson, who held off a fantastic challenge from the U.S legend Phil Mickelson on the final day last year to claim his first Major victory at Royal Troon. In any other year, Mickelson’s fantastic last round would likely have been enough to claim a second Open Championship in four years, Mickelson having won previously at Muirfield in 2013.

The Open has always been played on links courses and Royal Birkdale is a fine example of this. There are a number of venues on the roster including nearby links at Royal Lytham and St Annes to the north, while just south on the Wirral peninsula is Royal Liverpool, where Rory McIlroy won back in 2014. Other courses on the roster include Carnoustie, Royal Troon, St Andrews, Royal St Georges, Turnberry, Muirfield and now Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland has been added to that list and will host the 148th Open Championship in 2019, 68 years since it lasted hosted the event back in 1951.

Outlined below are recent winners of the tournament since the year 2000.

The Previous Winners of the British Open since the year 2000

  • 2000 – St Andrews – Tiger Woods (US)  -19
  • 2001 – Royal Lytham and St Annes – David Duval (US) -10
  • 2002 – Muirfield – Ernie Els (SA) -6
  • 2003 – Royal St Georges – Ben Curtis (US) -1
  • 2004 – Royal Troon – Todd Hamilton (US) -10
  • 2005 – St Andrews – Tiger Woods (US) -14
  • 2006 – Royal Liverpool – Tiger Woods (US) -18
  • 2007 – Carnoustie – Padraig Harrington (Ire) -7
  • 2008 – Royal Birkdale – Padraig Harrington (Ire) +3
  • 2009 – Turnberry – Stewart Cink (US) -2
  • 2010 – St Andrews – Louis Oosthuizen (SA) -16
  • 2011 – Royal St Georges – Darren Clarke (NI) -5
  • 2012 – Royal Lytham and St Annes – Ernie Els (SA) -7
  • 2013 – Muirfield – Phil Mickelson (US) -3
  • 2014 – Royal Liverpool – Rory McIlroy (NI) -17
  • 2015 – St Andrews – Zach Johnson (US) -15
  • 2016 – Royal Troon – Henrik Stenson (Swe) -20

As you can see, the last time the event was held at Royal Birkdale was back in 2008, when Padraig Harrington won with a score of 3-over par. That gives you an idea of the stern test facing golfers when they tee it up at this beautiful links course.

What Challenge do the golfers face at Royal Birkdale?

Of the ten courses on The Open Championship roster, there are few that have the potential to be as devilishly difficult as Royal Birkdale. Traditionally, this is a course where accuracy is more important than distance from the tee as with its tricky rough, pot-hole bunkers and a swirling breeze blowing in from the Irish Sea, it is very easy to get into trouble if you are errant with any shot.

However, unlike other courses, Royal Birkdale benefits from natural defences and does not need to be ‘tricked up’ to make life difficult for players. Instead, what you have is what many golf purists love – a fair but difficult test of links golf where great shots are rewarded but errant shots punished.

As such, this is a course that players tend to enjoy playing far more so than coursed that are tricked up to make things difficult for them. Royal Birkdale presents a fair, but difficult test of links golf and it will be the player that can master the conditions as much as the course itself that will prevail on Sunday.

Who stands a chance of winning the 2017 Open Championship?

One interesting fact is of the nine previous winners of The Open at Royal Birkdale four have been Australian, five from the United States and just one from elsewhere (Irishman Padraig Harrington). This does seem to suggest that players from the United States and Australia tend to come out on top when the Open is held at the course.

That is good news for a crop of talented American and Australian golfers in with a chance at Royal Birkdale. Dustin Johnson (12/1), Jordan Spieth (14/1), Rickie Fowler (14/1) are amongst a trio of American golfers who SkyBet rate as having the best chance of victory and it is difficult to argue with that. Aussie duo, Adam Scott (28/1) and Jason Day (30/1) are also worthy of note.

Others to consider include the current US Open Champion Brooks Koepka who is a 33/1 shot while Phil Mickelson will be desperate to do well in the Open once again having missed the US Open in June and he is a 40/1 shot with SkyBet.

The European challenge will likely be led by the in form Spaniard Jon Rahm (16/1), Sergio Garcia (16/1), Justin Rose (18/1) and local golfer Tommy Fleetwood (22/1). Rory McIlroy is 18/1, but is sorely out of form and has missed his last three cuts in a row. It would take a monumental turn around in form for the Irishman to get his game back before Thursday but with McIlroy you just never know. A better option may be Paul Casey (33/1) who is in much better form than the Irishman and looks set to win a big event sooner rather than later.

Outside of that group you can’t discount current champion Henrik Stenson (25/1) the consistent Japanese ace Hideki Matsuyama (18/1) while the tenacious Ian Poulter (50/1) is back in better form and will enjoy great support from the Southport crowd.

SkyBet’s Each Way Open Championship 10 Places Paid Out Offer

However a better option may be to bet on the Each Way market, especially now that SkyBet are offering an industry leading 1/5 payout on Each Way bets on the top 10 places and ties at this weeks Open Championship.

This is a fantastic offer and means that you could pick up some fantastic value betting by looking at an outside bet that could finish inside the top ten if they play well and there are some outstanding options to go for here.

Lee Westwood (60/1) is famed for his accuracy from tee to green and that may well play to his advantage at Royal Birkdale,  Padraig Harrington (55/1) was the last winner here and he too is back in form and at the perfect time on a course where he has been crowned Open Champion previously.

Zach Johnson (80/1) isn’t the longest hitter but he is accurate and has a fine Open pedigree being Champion at St Andrews two years ago, while ‘Beef’ Andrew Johnston (125/1) will have huge support from the galleries as he attempts to win his first ever Major title. That may be beyond him here but a top ten finish certainly is not.