If you’ve never heard of Aldrich Potgieter, you’re not alone. The 17-year-old South African just became the second-youngest winner of the prestigious Amateur Championship, putting him among 156 golfers who will tee off at St. Andrews in this week’s Open Championship (nee British Open) in Scotland.
On Monday, The New York Times published an interview with another South African, Gary Player, who talked about how present-day golfers are so long off the tee that it wouldn’t surprise him to see the likes of Bryson DeChambeau drive the green on multiple par fours at the relatively short Old Course.
“All I pray is that during the Open they have wind and a little bit of rain,” said the PGA legend. “Otherwise, they’re going to annihilate the golf course.”
Player also took the opportunity to question the past performance of consensus favorite Rory McIlroy, who’s 10/1 at the SuperBook to win the tournament.
“Rory McIlroy is the most talented golfer in the world today,” said the 86-year-old Player, winner of nine majors. “Whether you use the talent and do it effectively, that’s up to him. To the standard of his ability, he has not delivered. Now, he’s won four majors, but with his ability, he should have won six by now. He should be doing way better.”
Handle outpacing U.S. Open
Such tepid sentiment might be why Open bettors are spreading more money around than usual on a slew of players — including 5000/1 longshots like Potgieter, who saw his odds drop to 3000/1 after someone bet more than $100 on the baby-faced teen to win at the SuperBook.
“Under the conditions they play, where these European golfers are used to playing in this style of golf, I think it tends to bring more people into play and you tend to see more support for 300/1 [or] 1500/1 longshots,” said Jeff Sherman, the SuperBook’s primary golf analyst. “The last couple days I got [Phil] Mickelson support only because I went 500/1 on him. Adri Arnaus, he went from 300/1 to 150/1. We’ve gotten some sharp support on him, both in Nevada and non-Nevada jurisdictions. J.T. Poston, who recently won the John Deere, he went from 200/1 to 125/1.
“We’ve written more handle on this than our pace was for the U.S. Open and the PGA. Usually it’s descending order, where it goes Masters, then U.S. Open, then British Open, then PGA.”
That might have something to do with Tiger Woods’ decision to bypass the U.S. Open so he could ring in the Old Course’s 150th birthday in person.
“He’s definitely our biggest liability,” said WynnBET golf analyst Andy Morrissey, who had Woods priced at 50/1 to win the (British) Open on Tuesday. “I think him taking off the last one, he’ll be as well rested as he’s been for a major all year.”
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+4000 ➡️ +6000
He currently has 14% of all bets and 13% of the money pic.twitter.com/YOVOKm8kil
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Tiger’s health still a concern
Morrissey pointed out that Woods has won at St. Andrews before. But given his injury issues, Morrissey estimated that his true odds to win were probably closer to 100/1 — which is precisely where the SuperBook had him priced on Tuesday.
“You see what he did in the first two majors, and my take is with him not playing regularly like these other Tour golfers who are grinding week in and week out and are much younger than him, for him to finish on top would be a monumental task,” said Sherman. “If he makes the cut, it’s tough on him to last through four days under his health conditions. Could he finish Top 20? Sure, but I wouldn’t expect four days near the top of the leaderboard.”
Morrissey said Caesars had taken “a few large bets on Xander [Schauffele],” who’s won his last two PGA Tour starts — including last weekend’s Scottish Open. Morrissey also agreed with Player’s assessment, saying, “Most of the players should be able to drive some of these par fours with ease.”
#The150thOpen top 5⃣ futures bets by percentage of handle at https://t.co/gtFBhqQFdO
1. Scottie Scheffler +1800 (8.6%)
2. Rory McIlroy +1000 (8.2%)
3. Tiger Woods +8000 (6.3%)
4. Justin Thomas +2200 (5.7%)
5. Will Zalatoris +2500 (5.5%) https://t.co/yqNBYKJPU0
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That being said, while St. Andrews’ fairways are wide, anyone who misses them will find themselves in heaps of trouble in some notoriously deep rough and bunkers. And the course’s enormous greens have been known to lead to an inordinate amount of three putts.
Then there’s the weather. If it gets wet and windy, some longshots might find themselves in the mix come Sunday.
“It’s definitely a week where you can put together a strong portfolio of guys — 30 or 40 all the way up to the 200/1 range,” said Sherman.
To that end, Sherman grabbed Dustin Johnson at 49/1 before his price dropped to 30/1, reasoning, “He had a positive result in his last LIV event. He’s always had the talent and his odds have always been much shorter — 20/1 or less. The one thing I’ve read is there’s a pretty strong correlation between Augusta and this course.”
Among this second tier of contenders, Morrissey likes another 30/1 shot, Tommy Fleetwood, in this spot — as well as a pair of LIV tour members.
“I like Tommy Fleetwood at 30/1. It’s directly his game — chipping, putting around the green,” said Morrissey. “Louis Oosthuizen has won here. He’s at 40/1. Bryson, at 50/1, I really like him even though he hasn’t been playing as well this year.”
DOJ investigation hangs over tourney
Speaking of the LIV tour, the nascent circuit’s rivalry with the PGA and its allies continues to grow more bitter. Former Open champion Greg Norman was barred by the R&A, which puts on the Open, from competing at St. Andrews, while Woods made his most pointed remarks about the Norman-organized tour to date,
“Greg has done some things that I don’t think is in the best interest of our game, and we’re coming back to probably the most historic and traditional place in our sport,” Wood said. “I believe it’s the right thing” to exclude him from the tournament.
The U.S. Department of Justice, meanwhile, is investigating the PGA’s treatment of LIV players, with an eye on whether its actions could be considered anticompetitive violations.
“I think it’s gonna be concentrated on the golfers who have lifetime memberships, like Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, and whether that can be fully enforced,” said Sherman. “Look what happened on the DP Tour — they put a stay in place to prevent an exclusion [of LIV golfers] temporarily. I think that’s the angle that’s ultimately going to get looked at.”
Photo: Rob Schumacher/USA TODAY