Warren worth a wager

  • By: Ben Coley
  • Last Updated: July 17 2014, 12:29 BST

Ben Coley picks out his best bets for day one at the Open with Marc Warren a strong three-ball fancy.

Marc Warren: Looks a banker on day one
Marc Warren: Looks a banker on day one

There are two ways I like to play three-balls, generally speaking. One is to find a particularly weak match in which my fancy may only need to shoot 75 to win; the other is to find favourities who are opposable.

We'll start with the first method which leads me to Marc Warren, who looks banker material against Peter Uihlein and John Singleton (1032 BST).

Warren will have to put last week's disappointment behind him, but the best place to do that is surely golf's oldest major and I expect he'll be fully prepared for what lies ahead.

In truth, he didn't do a great deal wrong at Royal Aberdeen and solo third represents a good week's work, and confirmation that his game is in fine shape ahead of his second start in the Open.

Last year he missed the cut at Muirfield but an opening round of 72 was perfectly solid and I have to believe that anything in that region will suffice here.

The reason for that is the strength of the opposition.

A year ago, Uihlein would've been favourite for this but his form this season is nothing short of appalling. The American has failed to make the weekend in each of his last 10 starts and while his main struggles have come in round two, he's clearly lacking in confidence and if he breaks par I'll be very surprised.

Singleton's story is approaching fairytale stuff but that's for other pages. For our purposes, we're talking about an amateur golfer who admits that the players he's competing with this week do things "1,000 times better" than him.

A factory worker by day who has no pretensions as to a career in golf, his place in the field is part of what makes the Open charming but to us he helps to add a little more juice to the Warren price.

Odds-on in a three-ball won't do for some, but for me Warren should be close to 1/2 so there's plenty of value left for the heavy-hitters.

However, for those wishing to stake smaller I suggest adding Pablo Larrazabal to beat Scott Stallings and Bryden MacPherson (1210).

The Spaniard is enjoying a superb year which started with victory over Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson in Abu Dhabi.

More recently, he finished 11th in Scotland and eighth in Germany and the putting woes which frustrated him in 2013 appear to have gone.

In terms of his Open record, he's made the cut in three of just four starts so it's solid without being spectacular, but the feeling is he's only now beginning to come of age as a professional golfer and this might be a good opportunity for him to bag a top-20 finish or thereabouts.

Stallings is similar to Larrazabal in some respects, in that he's a reliable player in contention but is prone to severe dips in form. I'd certainly put him in the 'hard to predict' category but last year's missed cut at Muirfield, which came via rounds of 76 and 78, suggests he's very much up against it here.

MacPherson made the field with a fourth-placed finish in the Australian Open last December but on all known form, including a missed cut on his debut in this event, he's going to find things difficult

Canada's David Hearn only got into the field on Tuesday and he's one odds-on favourite I'd look to oppose.

He gets the honour of playing with former Open champions Sir Nick Faldo and Todd Hamilton (1010), and it's the latter who interests me at 11/4.

Hamilton's victory in this event goes down as one of those things which happen in golf that's impossible to explain.

However, while he's done little in the decade since he lifted the Claret Jug, there are one or two signs that he could be capable of shooting something under-par, which would make 11/4 look very decent indeed.

For starters, he did so last year at Muirfield with an opening 69, while back in 2006 he started 72-71 here before fading on the weekend.

Just last week he opened up with an exceptional round of 64 in the John Deere Classic, seven shots better than Hearn, and unlike the Canadian he did so knowing next stop was the Open.

Hearn is without question the most able of these three but he's nowhere near the top of the game and this will be his first experience of the Open. With a less-than-perfect preparation for this test, it's worth taking him on to small stakes.

  • Posted at 1435 BST on 16/07/2014.