It was a frustrating day for players, fans, organisers and everyone who wanted to watch The Open on Saturday as strong winds meant there was a near 11hr delay to day three of the tournament and as a result the event will now conclude on Monday for just the second time in its history.
Just the conclusion of the second round was possible on a day where the weather simply refused to cooperate and at the end of it Dustin Johnson held a one shot lead to take into the second half of the tournament.
He managed to birdie the final hole to post 10 under for his first two rounds but now the acid test comes after his meltdown at Chambers Bay the last time he teed it up. Even so he goes into Sunday as the 2/1 favourite to get the job done.
Johnson leads by one from the Englishman Danny Willett who has a wonderful record around the Old Course. Willett never hit a ball in anger on Saturday and that could well prove to be a big advantage compared to players who would have had alarms set at the crack of dawn for a 7am start before not finishing much before 8pm on Saturday night. Willett is 14/1 to go on and win his first major.
Paul Lawrie is a shot further back on eight under par with a real stellar group three of the lead which includes Adam Scott and Louis Oosthuizen. Jason Day and Zach Johnson are also part of that group so it is a very strong chasing pack who will go after Dustin Johnson in the final two rounds. A number of other big names aren’t too far back either.
Those who made the cut go out in pairs in the third round with the first group off at 8.15am BST and I actually like that group from a betting point of view. David Duval rolled back the years to make birdie at the 18th on Saturday to make the cut on the number but this isn’t a man used to playing the weekend and you’ve got to think time will catch up with him eventually.
Duval takes on the Australian Scott Arnold who made four birdies in a row on the back nine to make the cut. Not only does he take better form from Saturday into this round with him but he has been much more competitive than Duval over time and that should stand him in good stead too. I just don’t believe Duval is going to offer too much over the weekend. Making the cut was like his tournament win so I’ll take the steadier Arnold here.
There are a few more bets I like on the card and the next of those comes in the 11.00am group which involves Ryan Palmer and Patrick Reed. These two are both on the same score but the good lord only knows how. You only have to look at their GIR stats this week to see a huge discrepancy. Palmer is ranked as low as 120th in that statistic while Reed is inside the top 10.
Palmer finished with a flourish in his second round but he isn’t really used to the tougher conditions he might get here whereas Reed finished fairly well in the windy conditions on Saturday and has a great short game should he not hit so many greens. I think Reed will be better suited to these conditions and with Palmer having to rely too much on his short game which will catch him out eventually in these conditions I’m with the Ryder Cupper here.
I’m taking on a former champion in my next bet and that champion is Stewart Cink. It feels weird to take him on given that I’ve sided with him for the opening two days but he’s drawn against David Howell who I’ve already given as an outright selection and who I think has plenty left in him over the weekend.
Cink has done well to be at this stage of the tournament but I think Howell is a better player in these conditions at the minute and I would imagine with his course experience from the Dunhill Links he will be quite comfortable here. Cink was holding on a little on Saturday and Howell can whizz past him on Sunday.
My final pick is a slightly riskier one but it is at a nice price and that is on Paul Lawrie. Only Padraig Harrington and Hideki Matsuyama had fewer putts over the entire opening two rounds than Lawrie and that catches the eye because that is a part of his game which he has been struggling with for quite some time. If he has his best tee to green game with him he should go well.
Lawrie takes on Marc Warren in an all Scottish match on Sunday. Warren has gone well over the opening two days but we’ve seen him start big tournaments well in the past before he has faded over the weekend and he hasn’t played the really tricky conditions yet so his score could be a little false. He’s been waiting around for a while letting any nerves he has build up so I’m prepared to take Lawrie in that pairing.
Back S.Arnold to beat D.Duval for a 4/10 stake at 1.83 with BetVictor
Back P.Reed to beat R.Palmer for a 4/10 stake at 1.91 with Skybet
Back D.Howell to beat S.Cink for a 5/10 stake at 2.00 with Betfred
Back P.Lawrie to beat M.Warren for a 3/10 stake at 2.50 with Coral