Betting and trading on The Open Golf Championship

The Open Golf Championship

Golf isn’t the first thing you think of when Betfair trading. But, curiously, golf was one of my first markets on Betfair. This was somewhat accidental as back then I was arbing (or sort of matched betting) between bookmakers and Betfair. So my Betfair trading Golf heritage goes all the way back to June 2000.

My focus is really only the Golf majors nowadays. These are the markets with big liquidity and narrow spreads, which makes for a good combination when trading.

The Open Golf Championship is different from other majors in that it is played on a rotation schedule across a number of courses in the UK. It is also played on a links golf course which is traditionally near the sea, are near or on dunes, have an uneven surface and sandy soil.

This is in stark contrast to a lot of ‘modern’ courses or your local golf club which are often set in parkland or woods and carefully manicured. The rotation schedule ensures different links courses such as the famous St Andrews course, considered the ‘home’ of golf, get to see the worlds best get the chance to lift the claret jug.

I have to admit The Open is one of my least favourite tournaments as I have traditionally underperformed here in comparison to other Majors. That’s generally because I have to juggle my time on the Golf with other things that are happening. When the tournament is on the other side of the pond I can trade it in isolation.

Playing links Golf

Links golf is very different from traditional golf in that it’s a bit harder to play consistently, especially if the weather is poor.

Open championships will see the course set up for greater difficulty and poor weather can make things even harder. Links courses are best played by hitting the ball low and accurately. Being able to belt the ball a long distance isn’t so important. It’s a real test of your playing abilities, especially if you end up in the rough.

Players who have a long drive will not benefit from it at The Open as your ability to stay on the fairway and scramble comes to the fore at The Open. Course management and experience will win you a lot of strokes gained at The Open and therefore the average age of the winner at The Open is much older than other majors.

Seven of the last ten winners were over 32 years old!

Finding a winner!

There are some general pointers you can get to find a winner at The Open Golf. Since 2006 there has only been one favourite go on to successfully navigate all four days at The Open and lift aloft the claret jug. The average price of the winner is over 100 and that includes a few ‘shorter priced’ winners like Spieth and McIlroy in the last six years.

Golf is a game of confidence as much as anything, so players who are playing well tend to carry that form forward. But that said, US-based players, tend to suffer from the long trip to Scotland. US Golfers are also not used to playing links golf as well. But players who arrive early and play in local tournaments tend to perform better.

Nearly all winners had played the week before and finished well. Because of the nature of a links course, the vast majority of winners have finished inside the top ten in a previous Open championship. Couple this with plenty of experience, regardless of age, on links courses and you are likely to find a winner.

Cover a range of selections

With 150+ selections in the field, I tend to not focus on who will win, as that’s an incredibly hard thing to do. It’s pretty obvious that it’s quite easy to find a winning lay. That will work, but it also carries a lot of potential liability at the prices you need to lay at.

A winner is hard to pick, so backing just one is a tough ask. Of course, on a betting exchange, you have many options available to you other than backing a winner.

I tend to pick through players that I think will be in contention or big movers at some point in the tournament and back a selection of them. If you use the dutching tool in your Bet Angel trading software, this means you can do this to a fixed liability.

Out of that group you will very often find somebody who performs well and shortens up significantly which will most likely generate a profit if you are trading. If you catch a cluster of decent selections at large prices, when the price shortens, you can trade out of a profit or leave a bit on them for the title. You don’t need all of your selections to shorten in price to profit. You only need one good move to cover your losses on your selections that don’t progress during the tournament.

A difficult course set up will also provide opportunities, as could the weather. The leader after round one has historically only won the title 10% of the time. The leader in round two and three, 26% and 46% of the time.

As we get towards the business end of the tournament, turn your focus to the front of the field. Dutching the front of field within a certain number of shots of the leader has generally been a value bet. We looked back all the way to 1957 and nobody has won the Open after being more than six shots from lead after end of the third round. Even if you narrow that to three shots from the lead you still find a winner 83% of the time.

Good luck!

A combination of experience, confidence and tricky conditions can set up the perfect opportunity to catch a bigger price at The Open. But with benign weather conditions forecast this week, it’s likely some of those factors may be nullified this week.

But as always, good luck whatever you do this week!

1 Comment
  1. Mansur 6 years ago

    I need to win

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