After Zach Johnson collected the Claret Jug in 2015 after going off at a three-figure price, we take a look at five 2016 Open outsiders worth backing
5 2017 Open Outsiders Worth Backing
Ahead of the 2017 Open Championship, the key narratives being disseminated by the media surround the likes of Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Jordan Spieth and Padraig Harrington.
In fact, there are so many hot topics – from Justin Rose’s return to Birkdale 20 years after that hole out to Jon Rahm’s Open debut – that many of the under-the-radar players are getting less press coverage than usual.
Related: Open Championship Golf Betting Tips
So join me as we take a deep dive into the Birkdale field and uncover some 2017 Open Championship outsiders worth backing…
Stewart Cink is one of the most unpopular Major Champions of all time, but we shouldn’t let that mask the fact that his record in the tournament is very solid. He defeated Tom Watson in a play-off in 2009 to land the Claret Jug – one of seven top-30 finishes in the event, three of which have come in his last five starts. He’s enjoying a good season on the PGA Tour, having already registered 13 top-30 finishes, and his stats across the board are encouraging.
Soren Kjeldsen has been very impressive in recent years given the fact he’s one of the very shortest hitters in world golf. He enjoyed a successful stint in America at the start of the year and he comes into The Open off the back of a top ten at the Scottish Open. Kjeldsen’s most recent European Tour victory came on a links course – Royal County Down – at the 2015 Irish Open and he’s currently the best putter on the European Tour.
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Anirban Lahiri is a quality player who, in my mind, is one of the most underrated professional golfers operating today – probably a product of the fact he plays a lot in Asia. But regardless, he’s a prolific tournament winner, having picked up 18 pro titles by the age of 30. His Open Championship record isn’t excellent by any stretch, but he’s made three of four cuts in the event and he arrives at Birkdale in good form. He recently took a break from the game and spent time meditating, notching a second-place finish in the Memorial upon his return. He’s a spiritual man who has a clear sense of self and is calm under pressure.
I’ve watched Adam Hadwin on multiple occasions this season and I’ve been very impressed with both his ball striking and his on-course demeanour. In Sky Sports’ Open Zone earlier this week, he was discussing how he loves the strategy and versatility that Open courses demand, and I was impressed with some of the imagination and shot making he displayed. Hadwin won his maiden PGA Tour title earlier this season, so he’s in a relaxed state of mind, and his putting statistics are also very good. Plus, first-time winners aren’t as uncommon in The Open as they are at, say, The Masters.
Last year, Matthew Southgate finished second in the Irish Open to secure his European Tour card for the 2017 season. Some two months later, he came 12th in The Open at Royal Troon – his only made cut in a Major to date – just a year after being diagnosed with testicular cancer. Two weeks ago, he recorded his second consecutive second-place finish in Ireland with a fine performance at Portstewart to yet again retain his playing privileges. The symmetry is almost uncanny.