146th Open Championship: Odds, betting tips, TV coverage details, Royal Birkdale course guide & player profiles

The Open returns to Royal Birkdale
The Open returns to Royal Birkdale

The 146th Open Championship takes place this week at Royal Birkdale, where Padraig Harrington retained the Claret Jug with a winning score of three over par in 2008.

Henrik Stenson is the defending champion after his victory at Royal Troon last year, and this year's renewal looks wide open.

Our guide to the action has all the info you'll need, including Ben Coley's betting tips, a course guide, latest quotes from the players and profiles of every one of them, as well as details of where to watch the action unfold.

The Open Championship guide: Contents


1) Royal Birkdale course guide
2) Betting tips
3) Sky Bet's odds
4) Player profiles
5) Tee times
6) What they said
7) The Open by numbers
8) TV coverage
9) Our live coverage
10) Latest news and features

The Open Championship: Royal Birkdale Course Guide


Holes ranked from 1 (most difficult) to 18 (least difficult) based on how the course played in 2008.

1st, 448 yards, par 4: Out of bounds down the right contributes to a demanding start on this dogleg left, where the flag can be hidden by a sandhill short right of the green. Three bunkers protect the front of the putting surface.

2008 average: 4.515 (rank 2)

2nd, 422 yards, par 4: The drive was toughened in 2008 with the addition of 45 yards of new mounding down the left and a change to the bunkers on the right. Made even harder by being played into the prevailing wind.

2008 average: 4.368 (rank 6)

3rd, 451 yards, par 4: A new tee was added for the 2008 Open, adding 44 yards to the hole, while a bunker was added to the right of the green. Driving to the left side of the fairway leaves the best view of the green.

2008 average: 4.147 (rank T14)

4th, 199 yards, par 3: The first par three is played from an elevated tee to a testing green which falls away on both sides and is protected by four bunkers.

2008 average: 3.250 (rank 9)

5th, 346 yards, par 4: The shortest par four on the course could even be reachable in favourable conditions, although a water hazard and out of bounds guard the inside of the dogleg right. Seven bunkers surround a green with a distinct tier across it.

2008 average: 4.147 (rank T14)

6th, 499 yards, par 4: One of the toughest par fours in championship golf, which is a par five for the members. A new back tee means it is more than 280 yards to carry the bunker on the right-hand corner of the dogleg, while the second shot is played to a green set at a slight angle.

2008 average: 4.765 (rank 1)

7th, 177 yards, par 3: A championship tee was built for the 1998 Open, but the hole remains relatively short by modern standards. However, the green is encircled by seven bunkers, one of which resembles a doughnut thanks to a grass mound in the middle.

2008 average: 3.237 (rank 11)

8th, 458 yards, par 4: Two new bunkers were added ahead of the 2008 Open, one at 267 yards from the tee on the left of the fairway and another at 307 yards on the right. A ditch also runs down the right of the hole, while the 40-yard long green slopes from back to front.

2008 average: 4.134 (rank 16)

9th, 416 yards, par 4: The final hole of the front nine requires a blind tee shot played to a narrow fairway which was moved to the left ahead of the 2008 Open to create a slight dogleg right. The raised green has two bunkers at the front and trouble beckons over the back as well.

2008 average: 4.179 (rank 13)

10th, 402 yards, par 4: A sharp dogleg left which requires an accurate drive that avoids three bunkers in the landing area for shorter tee shots and two more for the bigger hitters. Only one bunker guards the right of a green which is set into the side of a dune.

2008 average: 4.419 (rank 4)

11th, 436 yards, par 4: A new intermediate tee could allow tournament officials to take pity on the players on a tough hole which plays into the prevailing wind. The green has a pronounced ridge running down the centre and three-putts could be common.

2008 average: 4.437 (rank 3)

12th, 183 yards, par 3: Rated by Tom Watson as the best short hole in golf. Framed by dunes, cavernous bunkers gather anything short and with the wind normally coming from the sea to the right, finding the green can be an achievement in itself.

2008 average: 3.272 (rank 8)

13th, 499 yards, par 4: The same length as the sixth, but usually played downwind. However, eight fairway bunkers and a ditch down the left have to be avoided, while three more bunkers guard the large green.

2008 average: 4.323 (rank 7)

14th, 200 yards, par 3: One of the five greenside bunkers is not really in play, but the remainder mean an accurate tee shot is needed on a hole perhaps best remembered for Hale Irwin's air shot when he went to tap in during the 1983 Open. He lost by one.

2008 average: 3.249 (rank 10)

15th, 542 yards, par 5: The first of just two par fives on the par-70 layout, but usually played into the wind and 13 bunkers line the relatively narrow fairway. Thick rough and bushes will punish a wayward approach to the green.

2008 average: 5.089 (rank 17)

16th, 438 yards, par 4: Like the 11th, an intermediate tee has been added in case the hole plays into the wind. A plaque to the right of the fairway honours the late Arnold Palmer's recovery shot from a bush in 1961.

2008 average: 4.395 (rank 5)

17th, 567 yards, par 5: The drive has to be threaded between high dunes and avoid the two bunkers down the right-hand side of the fairway, while the undulating green has been softened. An eagle in the final round in 2008 sealed Harrington's victory.

2008 average: 4.747 (rank 18)

18th, 473 yards, par 4: A tough finishing hole where Justin Rose famously holed out for birdie to finish fourth in 1998 with his last shot as an amateur. Out of bounds lurks to the right of a split fairway.

2008 average: 4.234 (rank 12)

The Open Championship: Betting tips


Outright:

"On a course widely considered among the fairest on the roster, which has produced a world-class roll-of-honour, largely players who had already won majors, the prospects of a top-class winner appear stronger than usual."

Click here for Ben Coley's six against the field, at prices ranging from 16/1 to 1500/1 

Specials:

"Making the cut here would likely leave Ernie Els in prime position for a place and at three-times the odds of Padraig Harrington, he’s awarded narrow preference."

Click here for Ben Coley's full preview and tips

Round One:

"I can't resist the Captain Obvious selection - it was, after all, a policy which paid off with a 100/1 winner in this market at the Masters."

Click here to read Ben Coley's full first-round preview

Sky Bet's Open Championship odds 


American trio Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth are value at 14/1 ahead of the start of the tournament with Spain's Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia next in the betting at 16s.

There's also an 8/1 Price Boost for either Johnson or Rory McIlroy to lift the Claret Jug.

Click here for all Sky Bet's latest odds

The Open Championship: Player profiles


Which player has clubs named after chemical elements? 

Who is far too nice for their own good? 

Which amateur is considering turning his back on the game for a career in business?

Who sounds like he should be a cheeky barman in a Guy Ritchie film?

Find the answers to these questions and more in Ben Coley's comprehensive guide to every golfer teeing it up this week

The Open Championship: Tee times


Former champion Mark O'Meara will hit the first shot of the 146th Open Championship.

O'Meara, who won the second major of his career when the Open was staged at Birkdale in 1998, will tee off at 6:35am alongside fellow American Ryan Moore and England's Chris Wood.

Selected R1 groups:

0635 Mark O'Meara (USA), Chris Wood, Ryan Moore (USA) 

0947 Henrik Stenson (Swe), Si Woo Kim (Kor), Jordan Spieth (USA) 

0958 Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa), Justin Rose (Eng), Justin Thomas (USA)

1009 Brooks Koepka (USA), Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn), Tommy Fleetwood (Eng)

1304 Zach Johnson (USA), Jason Day (Aus), Sergio Garcia (Esp) 

1326 Rickie Fowler (USA), Adam Scott (Aus), Paul Casey (Eng)

1448 Rory McIlroy (NI), Dustin Johnson (USA), Charl Schwartzel (Rsa)

1459 Jon Rahm (Esp), Patrick Reed (USA), Lee Westwood (Eng)

1510 Phil Mickelson (USA), Francesco Molinari (Ita), Marc Leishman (Aus) 

Click here for full round one tee times

The Open Championship: What they said


"The US Open course was a bomber's style course where they had a big advantage, but this course brings a lot more players into it. The Open Championship always does with the weather and the way the golf course plays. You have to think your way around it." 

Get more from Lee Westwood and a host of other big names in our round-up of the key quotes ahead of Thursday's big kick-off.

The Open Championship: By numbers


1 - world number one Dustin Johnson has three top-10 finishes at the Open but has yet to win the tournament.

2 - Peter Thomson twice won the Open at this year's venue, Royal Birkdale. The Australian won the event five times in all.

3 - the last time Birkdale hosted the Open, in 2008, was the only time this century that nobody has finished under par - Padraig Harrington's winning score was three over.

4 - the most consecutive Open wins, by Young Tom Morris from 1868 to 1872 - the championship was not held in 1871.

5 - Thomson and Tom Watson each won their fifth Open at Royal Birkdale.

6 - only Harry Vardon has more Open titles than that duo, with a record half-dozen wins between 1896 and 1914.

7 - the last seven major championships have seen first-time major winners, from Jason Day's success at the 2015 US PGA Championship to Brooks Koepka's recent US Open win.

8 - there were eight players in the first ever Open, in 1860. This year there will be 156.

9 - the lowest round in relation to par at an Open Championship is nine under, by Paul Broadhurst in 1990 and Rory McIlroy in 2010.

10 - this will be the 10th Open contested at Royal Birkdale.

11 - Koepka's current world ranking as he prepares for his first major championship since his maiden win in such an event.

12 - early Open Championships were played over a 12-hole course, with three rounds.

13 - the record winning margin at the Open, by Old Tom Morris in 1862 over the 36-hole format.

14 - the number of courses to have hosted the Open.

15 - if a play-off is required in this year's tournament, it will be played over four holes starting at the 15th.

16 - the 16th is marked by a plaque commemorating Arnold Palmer's 1961 victory, which was aided by a famous iron shot into that green in the final round.

17 - the longest hole at Royal Birkdale, at 567 yards.

18 - it is 18 years since one of the most memorable Open finishes in modern times, when Jean van de Velde's meltdown allowed Paul Lawrie to claim victory at Carnoustie.

The Open Championship: TV coverage


Sky Sports' new channel Sky Sports Golf will be broadcasting live Open coverage across the weekend, from 6.30am on Thursday and Friday, and 8am on Saturday and Sunday.

Sky Sports Golf is channel 405 on the Sky EPG.

BBC Two will show a two-hour highlights show at 8pm on all four days.

The Open Championship: Our live coverage


Ben Coley will be live-blogging all four days of action from Royal Birkdale, kicking off at 7am on Thursday and Friday and at noon on both weekend days.

The Open Championship: Latest news and features


Faldo gets hands on Claret Jug
Sir Nick Faldo pretended to steal the Claret Jug as he marked his 60th birthday with a special practice round  

Harrington targets 'fairytale' win
Padraig Harrington is refusing to rule out another "fairytale" Open Championship victory at Royal Birkdale. 

The Inevitability of Rory McIlroy
Our countdown to the Open Championship begins with Ben Coley's take on Rory McIlroy's search for a fifth major championship.

Click here for more golf news

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