AT&T PEBBLE BEACH PRO AM: OUR BEST BETS

GOLF


The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am is one of the most iconic events in golf. In existence since 1937 the 73rd renewal will be staged over four days, starting on Thursday (February 9).

We take an in-depth look at this year’s event, providing you with a few tips along the way.

As always, be sure to share your views and opinions with us over on the @MyClubBetting Twitter page.

U.S. Open - Round Two

Played over three courses and four days, with the top 60 going forward to Sunday’s final round, the format for the event formally known as the Bing Crosby National Pro-Amateur makes this an interesting minefield for punters.

The seaside links has hosted the US Open five times and the PGA Championship once and only five non-Americans have won it, so you can guess we will play the percentages.


OUR SHORTLIST

It is something of an anomaly that a long driver such as Phil Mickelson has won this event five times, given that it plays as one of the shortest courses in the PGA Tour rota. The fairways are wide and it doesn’t pose much of a driving test. The gusty conditions and postage-stamp sized greens provide the course’s defence.

A magical short game is Mickleson’s hallmark, a big reason why he is invariably at home here. His trademark shot is a full swing of a sand wedge which shoots up in the air and then parachutes down onto the green, coming to a standstill virtually straight away.

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‘Lefty’ does everything right-handed except play golf and as his Open Championship success in 2016 shows, he still has his A-game. His performance at Troon proved he is one of the best exponents of links golf around and while has not won here since 2012, he was bang in contention last year only to whiff on the final round with a modest 72 and fail by a stroke to shock winner Vaughn Taylor.

Putting is going to be crucial. The three courses this week are Pebble Beach Golf Links (played twice), Spyglass Hill (hardest of the three), and Monterey Peninsula (easiest of the three). The link among the three is the Poa Annua greens, which is in Mickelson’s favour as he grew up playing on them. He has to be on the shortlist.

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Dustin Johnson won this in 2009 in the wet and wild conditions reduced the event to three round and he came back to win it next year over four.

He is well-versed with Poa Annua greens and tops the averages on them since 2013.

The key to a good weekend will be Spyglass. It is the toughest of the three and Johnson relishes playing it. He is the top-rated player on Californian course over the last four years and there are plenty of reasons for backing the 8/1 favourite.

Jimmy Walker Pebble Beach.jpg

Jimmy Walker is another former winner, who took this three years ago, beating Dustin Johnson. He has the imagination to craft something out of nothing and with this course rewarding proper shot-making, with the wind usually fighting, he invariably has the controlled game to do well in links events. Walker says that Pebble Beach “fits my eye” and he has always read these greens well, so he is cemented on our list this week and is probably over-priced at 28/1.

JB Holmes Pebble Beach.jpg

J.B. Holmes had a T2 here in 2010 and shot a first round 66 last year on his way to a T11 finish. He shot a 64 in the first round in 2015 (finishing T10), so he is another horse for the course. He comes here in fair form, too, with a solid T24 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and he finished well with a final round 68 after a modest start in the Farmers Insurance Open. He is another who has the hot iron and the nose for the Poa Annua surface.

OUR SELECTIONS:

DUSTIN JOHNSON @ 8/1

PHIL MICKELSON @ 18/1

JIMMY WALKER @ 28/1

J.B. HOLMES @ 33/1


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2016 RYDER CUP: OUR BEST BETS

The 41st edition of the Ryder Cup gets underway on Friday, with Hazeltine Golf Club hosting the world famous event.

The European team will be defending the illustrious trophy after their convincing win at Gleneagles two years ago.

Revenge will certainly be on the minds of Team USA and their captain, Davis Love III, who will be leading his country in this event for the second time. Love was in charge of the Americans during their famous collapse at Medinah in 2012, and will undoubtedly be looking to get the better of his close friend and opposing captain, Darren Clarke at Hazeltine this week.

Below, the MyClubBetting and Bet4Causes golf expert, Calum Chinchen, provides you with some key last minute insight, along with a few valuable tips along the way!

OVERALL WINNER

It is fair to say that the Ryder Cup hasn’t exactly been kind to Team USA over the last few years.

The European team have won eight of the last ten meetings between the two teams, with the Americans last tasting victory eight years ago at Valhalla.

To some, three European victories in a row would suggest there is no evidence to show that anything will change at Hazeltine, however, others would argue that Team USA are well overdue a victory in this event.

The American team is stacked with quality. In fact, seven of the world’s top 20 golfers will be representing the United States this week – eight if you include Bubba Watson, who is a vice-captain.

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Talking of vice-captains, Tiger Woods will be in the Team USA ranks this week. The 14 time major champion may not have the greatest Ryder Cup record, but nobody can deny that his presence as a senior figure will be a positive factor this week.

Experience is vital in a Ryder Cup atmosphere, and the American team certainly has an edge over their opponents in that department. Brooks Koepka and Ryan Moore are the only rookies representing Team USA this week, while the Europeans will be fielding a staggering six debutants.

Unfortunately, everything points to a home win at Hazeltine with Davis Love III finally easing his Medinah heartache after four years of hurt.

BEST BET: USA TO WIN @ 4/7

TOP AMERICAN

At first glance, Jordan Spieth’s 2016 season may seem somewhat unsuccessful, particularly in comparison to his fine 2015 campaign.

However, despite the lack of a major title, the Dallas native actually enjoyed a fine year, winning twice and recording eight top ten finishes.

This will be Spieth’s second Ryder Cup appearance after making his debut in Scotland two years ago.

During that week, Spieth performed admirably, particularly for a debutant – scoring 2.5 points from a possible 4 at Gleneagles.

The youngster is one of the few players teeing up at Hazeltine this week who will be equally comfortable when playing in a fourball or foursomes format. With that in mind, it would be no surprise if Love III decided to pick Spieth for all five of his team’s matches, thus, giving the man from Texas every chance of topping the Team USA individual standings on Sunday night.

BEST BET: JORDAN SPIETH @ 9/2

TOP EUROPEAN

Who could forget Justin Rose’s comeback against Phil Mickelson in the singles at Medinah four years ago?

That match is seen as one the most famous in Ryder Cup history, and was the catalyst for what turned out to be the ‘Miracle at Medinah’.

CORRECTION Britain Ryder Cup Golf

The Olympic gold medallist will be competing in his fourth Ryder Cup this week, making him one of the most experienced players on the European Team.

Many expect this year’s event to resemble the 2008 edition at Valhalla, which was the last time Team USA tasted Ryder Cup success. Unbelievable noise from the patriotic galleries, over boisterousness from player and some fine golf all played their part in a resounding win for the home side.

While others were distracted or intimidated, Rose seemed to become even more motivated by the hostile atmosphere – winning three of his team’s 11.5 points during his debut event.

It was more of the same at Medinah four years later, where the Englishman again managed to gain three vital points.

Rose has based himself in the United States for a number of years now, collecting an impressive seven PGA Tour wins, including the 2013 US Open – an event in which much of the home gallery were rooting in favour of Phil Mickelson, rather than the Englishman.

It is clear to us that Rose is more than comfortable when playing across the pond, and hostile atmospheres clearly have little to no effect on him.

That coupled with the inevitability of him playing in all five sessions, leads us to believe that he will have another solid Ryder Cup on American soil.

BEST BET: JUSTIN ROSE @ 11/2

TOP DEBUTANT

As mentioned, the European team contains four more debutants than Team USA.

It would surprise nobody if Brooks Koepka and Ryan Moore were starved of game time, so in our eyes, the top debutant will more than likely be wearing European colours.

Matt Fitzpatrick is one of the most consistent players around, and has enjoyed a wonderful 2016 season after two European Tour wins.

The Sheffield native also has great experience of playing on American soil, albeit as an amateur.

Fitzpatrick won the world famous US Amateur Championship in 2013, before recording three points from four games at the Walker Cup in New York just a month later.

European Captain, Darren Clarke will know all about Fitzpatrick, as the two are part of the same management company.

Fitzpatrick will almost certainly be overlooked in both sets of the fourball matches, in favour of a more aggressive player who is longer from the tee box.

However, when it comes to the foursomes, his patience, temperament and phenomenal short game make him an almost certainty for both sessions.

After that comes the singles, and as we all know – anything can happen.

BEST BET: MATT FITZPATRICK @ 13/2

As always, be sure to share your views and opinions with us over on the @MyClubBetting Twitter page.

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HELP YOUR GOLF CLUB BY SETTING UP A PERSONALISED MCB SITE

We talk to our Golf Ambassador, Chubby Chandler, about the benefits of a MyClubBetting service.

UK golf club membership fees have increased dramatically over the last five years, prompting thousands of players to vacate their memberships in favour of playing on a more ad-hoc basis.

In fact, 2015 saw a staggering 2.4% decline in registered golfers in England, with Scotland also seeing a 0.8% drop.

The gradual dip in membership numbers over the past few years has caused a number of golf clubs in the UK to enter financial instability, and in some more severe cases, closure.

Let’s not forget, the well-known Rutherford Castle Golf Club in Scotland was forced to shut permanently in 2015 after declining membership numbers.

So that leaves us with one crucial question. How do golf clubs raise funds, and ultimately, stay afloat?

MyClubBetting are an organisation that focus on giving back to grassroots sports teams and clubs by providing them with free betting sites.

The Surrey based company are one of the largest providers of grassroots funding in the UK and unlike traditional bookmakers, their sites provide clubs with various rewards.

Clubs receive 20% of all net revenues created on their personalised site, and are also rewarded with free kit and equipment when certain sign-up targets are reached.

The services provided by MyClubBetting come completely free of charge and are personalised with a team’s crest and colours.

ISM Managing Director and former European Tour player, Chubby Chandler, joined MyClubBetting as their Golf Ambassador in May.

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A lack of funding for golf at grassroots level concerns the Englishman and he is hoping that his appointment can inspire others to get involved and spread the word.

“The guys at MyClubBetting provide golf clubs with a simple way of increasing revenue,” Chandler said passionately.

“Members can have the odd punt on their club’s personalised site – which MyClubBetting provide for free – earning revenue and equipment for the club in the process.”

To help the sites have an impact on clubs in the UK, Chandler has discussed the concept with the British PGA.

“I’ve had positive conversations with them on how this can work through the professional shops in the UK and I hope to see golf clubs benefitting in the near future,” he added.

Chandler is also keen to highlight the importance of digital promotion, and is extremely impressed with what MyClubBetting offers its clients.

“Along with their personalised sites, MyClubBetting also provide clubs with social media content and digital promotional materials – all completely free of charge.”

The sportsbook services provided by MyClubBetting are comparable with any of the country’s biggest bookmakers, with a wealth of markets and in-play betting options available to users of their sites.

It is also worth noting that users are not restricted to betting on one specific sport.

“Whether it is golf, racing, football or any other available sport, the club benefits every single time someone uses their site,” states Chandler.

There is no doubting that Chandler’s appointment as Golf Ambassador has had a positive effect in spreading the word, with Howley Hall and St Mellons among the clubs joining MyClubBetting since May.

As the interview concludes, Chandler makes a powerful statement on the future of UK golf clubs:

“If participation and membership numbers continue to decrease in the UK, then we run a real of risk of letting the next Justin Rose or Danny Willett slip through the net – something we simply can’t let happen.”

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CHUBBY CHANDLER PREVIEWS THE USPGA CHAMPIONSHIP

The MyClubBetting Golf Ambassador analyses the fourth and final major championship of 2016.

Before I begin discussing this week’s event, I would like to pass on my sincerest congratulations to Henrik Stenson after his recent Open Championship victory at Troon.

On the Monday before the tournament, his close friend Mike Gerbich sadly passed away after losing his battle with cancer. I thought it was a real touch of class when Henrik dedicated his victory to Mike during his winner’s speech on the eighteenth green.

STENSON

In all honesty, I can’t ever remember seeing a more impressive round of golf during a major championship and to see the Swede do it in the final group on the final day was nothing short of remarkable.

Henrik is a lovely guy, and I was made up to see him lifting the Claret Jug at Troon.

Now onto this week’s USPGA Championship at Baltusrol, which takes place just a fortnight after the Open Championship.

A lot has been made about the timing of the tournament, but in all honesty, the players have known about the Olympic competition for a fairly long period so I don’t feel as though anyone can make any excuses ahead of this event.

There is no doubting that the guys who were contractually obliged to play in Canada last week may be slightly more fatigued than the rest of the field but, personally, I don’t see it being too much of an issue.

The Lower Course at Baltusrol is the type of track that has become synonymous with recent USPGA Championships.

While it is far from easy, the Lower Course will provide the players with regular birdie chances and the opportunity to go low – unlike many of the modern US Open layouts.

In terms of guys from within my ISM stable, I see Danny Willett and Ben An (Byeong-Hun An) being the best suited to Baltusrol’s layout.

Danny made the cut at Troon by draining a really tricky fifteen-foot putt on the eighteenth green and that felt like a turning point to me. He played some really solid stuff during the weekend that followed and, if he can take that into this championship, then I see no reason why he can’t go well.

Ben also had a fairly decent Open Championship and he will fancy his chances this week after some fine recent showings on American soil. The South Korean has managed to record five top-25 finishes on the PGA Tour in 2016, missing just three cuts along the way.

BEN AN

Ben is one of longest hitters in the field this week, and I really feel as though his distance from the tee could be a massive advantage at Baltusrol.

The USPGA is known to produce first time major winners, and so many people have been asking me who I fancy as an outsider this week.

Justin Thomas has had a wonderful season, and should there be a first time major winner this week – it wouldn’t surprise me if it was him.

I have attended every single major championship since 1996 so naturally I was at Baltusrol the last time it hosted the USPGA Championship, back in 2005.

I remember being so impressed with Phil Mickelson during that week. He won the tournament by a single stroke after bad weather caused a Monday finish.

Phil’s tapping of Jack Nicklaus’s plaque before playing his approach to the 18th hole is one that sticks in the memory, almost as much as the wonderful flop shot that followed!

Chubby Chandler works with MyClubBetting to assist Golf Clubs in the UK. To get a free betting service that earns cash and other rewards for your club, simply visit myclubbetting.com

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2016 USPGA CHAMPIONSHIP: OUR BETTING GUIDE

By Calum Chinchen

This year’s final major championship gets underway on Thursday, with Baltusrol Golf Club hosting the 98th edition of the USPGA Championship.

To accommodate the 2016 Summer Olympics, this year’s tournament has been moved forward by a fortnight, meaning it takes place just two weeks after the Open Championship.

Come Thursday, the world’s best will test themselves on the Lower Course at Baltusrol, which measures close to 7400 yards.

Interestingly, members of Baltusrol play the Lower Course as a par 72, however when a major championship is played at the venue, the course is reduced to a rather tricky par 70.

Phil Mickelson (22/1) won the last USPGA Championship to be held at Baltusrol. The man affectionately known as ‘lefty’ claimed the famous Wanamaker Trophy in 2005, winning by a single shot in a tournament that required a Monday finish due to poor weather conditions.

MICKELSON

Despite having a rather quiet 2016 season, Mickelson (above) really turned on the style in the Open Championship at Royal Troon just two weeks ago.

The American enjoyed a scintillating weekend battle with Henrik Stenson. Despite eventually losing out to the Swede, Mickelson’s play was so impressive that he finished a staggering 11 shots ahead of third place.

There is no doubting that Lefty’s performance at Troon will do wonders for his confidence, and if Mickelson can draw on his positive memories from 2005, then we see him being in contention at Baltusrol.

As mentioned, Henrik Stenson (14/1) claimed his first major at the Open Championship two weeks ago.

The Swede was nothing short of phenomenal at Royal Troon, finishing three shots clear of second place and a remarkable 14 ahead of third.

Much of this was down to his pin-point precision from the teeing ground. While Stenson (below) usually favours his trusty fairway wood from the tee, that wasn’t strictly the case at Troon. The world number five switched between a low stinging driver, his usual fairway wood shot and a piercing long iron from the tee at The Open – using all three shots to great effect.

STENSON

While length is always crucial at USPGA Championships, finding the fairway is undoubtedly an advantage. Stenson has the ability combine distance and length from the tee using a number of different clubs and ball flights, which may just be useful this week.

The major championship burden is no longer weighing Stenson down, and we see him benefitting from that this week. A top ten at Baltusrol is looking like a formality for the Swede, and in all honesty, we wouldn’t be shocked to see him win back-to-back majors.

Dustin Johnson (8/1) is the market leader coming into this event.

The man from South Carolina is in fine form, finishing inside the top 10 in all of his last six events.

Johnson has certainly matured as a golfer in 2016, showing a far greater level of course management than in previous years.

If form is anything to go by, the man from South Carolina will undoubtedly be in contention at Baltusrol this week.

Jason Day (9/1) is the defending USPGA Champion after his win at Whistling Straights twelve months ago.

USA GOLF PGA CHAMPIONSHIP

In truth, the Australian has gone from strength-to-strength since that victory. Day (above) has won three PGA Tour tournaments in 2016, rising to world number one in the process.

However, despite performing solidly in the three majors since his win at Whistling Straights, Day has failed to truly contend, finishing outside the top five on each occasion.

Much of this has been down to Day’s recent lack of consistency when scrambling from within ten yards. Surprisingly, from his 51 attempts, Day has only managed to successfully get up and down from inside 10 yards on just 40 occasions – ranking way down in 187th on the 2016 PGA Tour standings in that category.

Despite the rest of his game being near perfect, Rory McIlroy (9/1) is really struggling on the greens.

The two-time USPGA Champion managed a top five finish at Troon, despite ranking outside the top 50 in the putts per round category for the tournament.

Naturally, this is causing the Northern Irishman a great deal of frustration. His lack of trust with the putter is creating an obvious eagerness to get the ball close during approach play, which in turn, is leading to an increased amount of mistakes.

If he can somehow find his touch on the greens then there is no reason why McIlroy can’t lift the Wanamaker Trophy for a third time, however, in our minds, there is no way he can contend if he carries his current form on the greens to Baltusrol.

Sergio Garcia (28/1) is arguably the best active touring professional never to win a major.

Despite never winning one, Garcia (below) has a phenomenal record at major championships, notching-up a staggering 22 top ten finishes during his career, with 12 top five finishes coming within that period.

US Open Golf

Even the Spaniard would struggle to deny that problems with the flat stick have held him back during his career. To say that the Spaniard is a bad putter would be harsh, he just seems to struggle over important putts at crucial vital times during tournaments.

This was particularly evident in the 2007 Open Championship and 2008 PGA Championships – which were arguably his best chances of major championship glory.

Tee to green, Garcia is one of, if not the best player in the world at present. If he can find crucial putts at crucial times this week, then there is absolutely no reason why he can’t be in contention come Sunday.

JB Holmes (66/1) is one of the few players in the field who has the length to overpower Baltusrol this week.

JB Holmes at WGC-Cadillac Championship

Holmes (above) is among the longest players on the PGA Tour, averaging a staggering 312.7 yards from the tee in 2016.

However, as he showed at the Open Championship recently, the American is no one trick pony. On route to a third place finish at Troon, Holmes showed fantastic versatility when playing approach shots and also showed great scrambling skills whenever he missed the greens.

While Holmes doesn’t have the greatest record at major championships, he is in good form. The man from Kentucky is our outsider this week.

OUR SELECTIONS

HENRIK STENSON @ 14/1

PHIL MICKELSON @ 22/1

SERGIO GARCIA @ 28/1

JB HOLMES @ 66/1

As always, be sure to share your views and opinions with us over on the @MyClubBetting Twitter page.

Remember, MyClubBetting and Bet4Causes are paying SIX PLACES on this week’s USPGA Championship!

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Get your club, however large or small, its own tailor-made betting service – FREE – and start benefiting now! See myclubbetting.com for details.

If you are not affiliated to a club, you can bet via Bet4Causes, where 20% of net revenue goes to sporting charities, who include GreatwoodWorld Horse Welfare and StreetGames.

You must be 18+ in order to bet. Please gamble responsibly: www.gambleaware.co.uk

“AMERICAN PLAYERS HAVE A WONDERFUL RECORD AT TROON”

MyClubBetting’s Golf Ambassador, Chubby Chandler, analyses Royal Troon ahead of this week’s Open Championship.

Open Championship week is one I look forward to all year and Royal Troon is among my favourite courses within the rotation.

Whenever I think of Troon, my mind always drifts back to the Open Championship of 1973.

That year I was actually one of the reserve players, waiting in the wings should anyone withdraw. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t get the chance to tee it up that week. However, rather than heading home, I chose to stay around and follow my golfing hero for the entire four days.

That man was Tom Weiskopf. I was there for every single shot he hit at Troon that week and was delighted to see him lifting the Claret Jug on Sunday evening, after witnessing a golfing masterclass over the four days.

I always remember how well Tom managed his emotions that week. As we all know, the combination of changeable weather conditions and a one-tee start can play havoc with a player’s mental state, but taking one shot at a time is absolutely vital at an Open.

Americans seem to have a wonderful record at Troon, with golfers from the States winning all of the last six Open Championships held at the famous South Ayrshire course.

Speaking of players from the US, there is no doubting that Dustin Johnson (below) is the man to beat this year.

Dustin Johnson

Dustin showed brilliant mental strength at the US Open last month, overcoming a controversial rules breach en route to his maiden major championship. He then followed it with a fine display at the Bridgestone Invitational, claiming his third World Golf Championship in the process.

Despite his ‘long ball’ playing style, Dustin actually has a solid Open Championship record, finishing inside the top 50 in each of his last six outings, including two top tens during that period.

In fact, come Sunday, he was paired in the final group during the 2011 Open, eventually finishing in a tie for second behind my pal and colleague, Darren Clarke, on a day that I will never forget.

In terms of players within my management company (ISM), I feel Lee Westwood (below) will go well this week.

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Lee really enjoys playing at Troon, finishing in a tie for tenth back in 1997, before a wonderful final round of 67 in 2004 saw him finish in fourth place.

I tipped Lee to perform well at the US Open and despite a sub-standard weekend, he still managed to record a top 50 finish to go with his tie for second at the Masters.

Speaking to him, I get a real sense that Lee is starting to find the middle of the club again, achieving a far purer strike than in recent months.

In this year’s majors, Lee has shown that he can perform without being at his absolute best and, if everything comes together, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him lifting that Claret Jug on Sunday.

Danny Willett and Matt Fitzpatrick both have games suited for links golf, having played amateur golf on such layouts on a regular basis, while Louis Oosthuizen will be looking to avenge his play-off loss at St Andrews last year.

The Open will unquestionably have a different feel to it this year, with Sky taking over the televised coverage from BBC. That said, I have no doubt in my mind that this year’s tournament will be among the most exciting in Open Championship history.

Chubby Chandler works with MyClubBetting to assist Golf Clubs in the UK. To sign-up for a free betting service that earns rewards for your club, simply visit myclubbetting.com

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2016 OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP: OUR BETTING GUIDE

By Calum Chinchen

The 145th Open Championship gets underway on Thursday morning, with the world famous Royal Troon Golf Club hosting the event for the ninth time in its history.

Interestingly, each of the last six Open Championships held at the South Ayrshire track have been won by American players.

Troon is home to one of the most famous holes in golf. The eighth hole is a short par three, measuring just over 120 yards – affectionately known as the ‘postage stamp’ thanks to its tiny putting surface.

Tournament favourite, Jason Day (7/1) managed his best ever Open Championship finish at last year’s event, finishing in a tie for fourth and missing out on the eventual play-off by just a single shot.

PGA: Zurich Classic of New Orleans - First Round

It’s fair to say that the Open is the Australian’s least favourite major championship. Day (above) has only managed a single top 25 finish in his five Open Championship appearances.

However, the world number one is enjoying a remarkable 2016 season. The Queensland native has managed a staggering eight top 10 finishes so far – winning on three occasions.

Day has also performed well at the majors in 2016, tying for 10th at the Masters before recording another top 10 at the US Open by finishing in a tie for eighth.

There is no doubting the quality and form of Jason Day at the moment, but we just feel as though his accuracy from the tee may hinder him on Troon’s demanding layout. The Australian has a PGA Tour driving accuracy of just over 54% in 2016 – ranking 175th.

Dustin Johnson (8/1) is undoubtedly the most in-form player on the planet at the moment. The American is the new world number two and current FedEx Cup leader, after recording four straight top five finishes on the PGA tour.

During that period, Johnson (below) claimed his first major at the US Open and followed it with his third World Golf Championship title at the Bridgestone Invitational in his next start.

WGC - HSBC Champions: Day Four

While some may see Johnson’s distance focussed style being unsuitable for an Open Championship layout, it really is hard to argue with his record at the event.

The man from South Carolina has finished inside the top 50 in all of his last six appearances at the event, with four top 15 finishes coming during that period.

Everything points to Dustin Johnson contending this week, and we find it very hard to disagree.

This week sees Rory McIlroy (9/1) playing an Open Championship for the first time since his win in 2014. As we all remember, McIlroy injured his ankle playing football weeks before last year’s event at St Andrews and failed to recover in time to defend his title.

McIlroy’s 2016 season has been solid rather than superb. He won the Irish Open back in May and has managed an impressive five top ten finishes in his 12 PGA Tour starts.

The Northern Irishman is one of the best drivers of the golf ball on the planet, combining distance and accuracy to great effect, with his approach play and scrambling also being super efficient in 2016.

However, it is fair to say that he has struggled on the greens of late, which could be real hindrance at Troon. So far this season, he ranks outside the top 150 in total putting, three putt avoidance and approach putt performance.

In our eyes, McIlroy’s performance on the green will have to take a considerable turn for the better if he is going to be in with a shout at Troon.

Rickie Fowler (25/1) is among those in the ‘best player still without a major’ category.

Despite missing the cut in each of the year’s two majors, Fowler has had a solid year – recording ten top 25 finishes in his 17 PGA Tour events and winning the Abu Dhabi Championship back in January.

FOWLER

Fowler (above) is one of America’s finest poor weather players – which may just come in handy at Troon. The California native won last year’s Scottish Open at Gullane Golf Club and has also performed admirably in past trips to Royal County Down and Gleneagles during respective Walker and Ryder Cup appearances.

Fowler has two career top five finishes at the Open, and it would surprise nobody if he added to that tally at Troon this week.

Louis Oosthuizen (40/1) seems to enjoy links golf, in particular, the Open Championship. The South African has managed a top 35 finish in four of his last six appearances, with a win and a play-off loss coming within that period.

Both of the above mentioned finishes came at St Andrews, a course that requires a similar level of imagination and creativity as Royal Troon.

Oosthuizen (below) made his Open Championship debut at the South Ayrshire track 12 years ago. The man from Mossel Bay missed the cut that year, but in our minds, nothing should be taken from that, after all, Open Championships provides an enormous test to any golfer, let alone a tournament rookie.

The Open Golf Championship

Combining length and accuracy from the tee is going to be vital at Troon this week, and if Oosthuizen can carry his 2016 PGA Tour driving performance (ranked 22nd in total driving) then there is absolutely no reason why he can’t lift the Claret Jug for the second time in his career.

As mentioned, Oosthuizen lost in a play-off to Zach Johnson (50/1) in last year’s event at St Andrews.

While Johnson has failed to win since claiming his second major title at the famous Scottish links in 2015, he has performed reasonably well, recording five top ten finishes in 2016, including an eighth place finish at the US Open last month.

Johnson undoubtedly struggles for length from the tee box – but he more than makes up for it with the flat stick. The Iowa native is one of the best putters in the world, ranking within the top 35 of the overall putting average and putts per round stats on the PGA Tour in 2016.

It is fair to say that Lee Westwood (40/1) enjoys playing at Troon. Westwood (below) recorded his first ever top ten at a major championship at Troon in 2007, while a stunning final round gave him a fourth place finish in 2004.

The Masters - Preview Day 2

Westwood has performed well in 2016 – particularly at the majors. Westwood finished in a tie for second, before recording a top 35 finish at the US Open in June.

While the Englishman’s recent Open Championship record is rather inconsistent, it is worth noting his three top five finishes in the last seven years.

There is no reason why the Englishman can’t go well at Troon once again, and we wouldn’t be shocked if he placed this week.

Todd Hamilton (1000/1) shocked the entire golfing world during the last Open Championship at Troon.

Hamilton lifted the Claret Jug in 2004, beating Ernie Els by a single shot over a four hole play-off.

The man from Illinois made the utility/rescue club famous that week, relying on it from a variety of different scenarios – including, to some peoples amazement, shots around the green.

Things haven’t exactly gone to plan for the American since his shock win back in 2004. Hamilton is yet to win a tour event since the last Open at Troon and hasn’t managed to record a top 30 finish at any major since the famous win.

OUR SELECTIONS

DUSTIN JOHNSON @ 8/1

RICKIE FOWLER @ 25/1

LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN @ 40/1

LEE WESTWOOD @ 40/1

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