The Open Golf 2023 – Round 1 Tips and Betting Preview

The opening round of The Open is always one of the highlights on the golfing calendar and it takes place on Thursday when the field get to see the Royal Liverpool course from a competitive setup for the first time.

Everyone who steps onto the first tee will have the same ambition on Thursday – get off to a solid start and make sure they take up a competitive position in the tournament. This is always a long day but great for golf watchers.

First Round Leader

As always, the first port of call when betting on the opening day of a major is the first round leader market. We need to remember that everyone starts off on the first tee at this tournament with the opening tee shot at 06.35 BST and the last player teeing off at 16.16 BST. The next thing to check is the forecast which is fairly consistent throughout the day actually with the wind a hair heavier in the afternoon but no massive difference so there isn’t really any bias to take advantage of. I suspect the course will dry out the longer the day goes on so I’ll pick three very early starters to post a number and see if the score holds up.

They are Matthew Jordan and Branden Grace who are both out in the first group onto the golf course and then Ryan Fox who is out in the third group. Jordan is on home soil here being a member at the club so he will be very familiar with the test in front of him which will hopefully be an advantage whereas Grace is used to pinging the lids with the tournaments he plays in now only 54 holes. He opened with a 61 in Tulsa a couple of months ago and something like that would be very handy. Of course until recently he held the lowest score in a round in a major so we know Grace has a low one in him. Fox has broken par in all three majors so far this year with 70 at The Masters and a pair of 68s since. He started with a 69 in Scotland last week and in the 2019 and 2021 versions of this event he started with 68s. He knows how to go low too so at big prices I’ll pay to see how all three fair on Thursday.

Thursday 3 Balls

The 156 player field goes out in three balls on Thursday with the quirk of this event being that everyone goes off the first tee. There are marquee groups midway through the morning and the afternoon for the crowds to follow on course or on TV. The morning standout groups are the Scottie Scheffler, Tommy Fleetwood and Adam Scott one which goes off at 09.47 BST as well as the Cameron Smith, Xander Schauffele and Wyndham Clark one at 09.58 BST. Heading into the afternoon and the attention will be on the Viktor Hovland, Tony Finau and Justin Thomas group at 14.48 BST as well as the Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Justin Rose three ball which tees off at 14.59 BST. There are plenty of other tasty groups on show across the day and they have all been priced up which gives us plenty to go at. There are three bets that I like.

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Louis Oosthuizen/Joost Luiten/Christo Lamprecht

Match tees off at 07.52 BST

The eighth group out onto the golf course on Thursday sees the former champion Louis Oosthuizen out alongside the DP World Tour regular Joost Luiten and the South African amateur player Christo Lamprecht for whom this will be a big day in his career.

It would have been a big day anyway but getting the chance to play alongside a South African great will just make it all the sweeter but he is an amateur and the two he is up against are too seasoned to let him in. Luiten had a good couple of weeks at the British Masters and the BMW International Open before it but in eight starts at The Open he has only shot par or better once so this looks to be all about Oosthuizen. He probably isn’t the force he once was but there have been signs of life from him on the LIV Tour recently. Oosthuizen is something of a links specialist having won this tournament before and at The Open he has opening rounds of 64, 65, 67, a pair of 70s and a 71 and you’ve got to think if he adds to that collection he has every chance here. Towards the end of last year the South African was T10 at the Dunhill Links which was his third top 10 in that event and so a return to form and links comfort makes him a favourite to get behind.

Adri Arnaus/Ewen Ferguson/Keita Nakajima

Match tees off at 14.26 BST

Heading towards the latter end of the tee times we have a group made up of two DP World Tour players and one from the Japan Tour as Adri Arnaus goes out alongside Ewen Ferguson and Keita Nakajima in the opening round.

Nakajima has been smashing up the Japan Tour this season with a win and a raft of top five finishes but how that form translates to this level remains to be seen. He did play three PGA Tour events at the beginning of 2023 and went T54 MC MC which doesn’t bode well. He also missed the cut in this a year ago so I’ll look at the other two in this opening round. Arnaus arrives here in no form whatsoever. Last week was the first time since South Africa in match that he has cracked the top 70 in a tournament. It was also the first time in six attempts that he has broken par in an event and his two first rounds at The Open have yielded rounds of 75 and 74. That all leads me to think that Ferguson, who arrives here with successive top 15 efforts and who won here as an amateur is the one to be on here. He is comfortable in these conditions and while this is his debut at The Open, he is twice a winner on the DP World Tour so it isn’t like he is a mug or anything. Unless the Japan Tour form stacks up better than I think, I fancy Ferguson to come out on top here.

Phil Mickelson/Nick Taylor/Adam Schenk

Match tees off at 15.21 BST

The fifth to last group out onto the golf course sees the former champion Phil Mickelson out alongside two improvers from the PGA Tour in the form of the Canadian Open winner Nick Taylor and Adam Schenk who arrives here with four top 10 finishes in his last six starts.

Schenk has opened up the last two weeks with rounds of 65 but like Taylor he is on debut in this tournament and there is a feeling that the long game is the key requirement here and his numbers in those disciplines don’t really stack up. Mickelson has played in 28 previous Opens and is a former champion in 2013 but opened with a 74 here the following year when defending the title. You have to go back to 2016 for the last time Mickelson broke par in the opening round of this event and there is nothing in his recent LIV Tour results which suggests his game is coming to the boil. While he finished second at Augusta, that was down to a pressure free 65 in the final round so he doesn’t look the one to be on. Taylor is much better from tee to green than the pair of them and he has a lot of form that I like this year. He won his home open in Canada which shows he can handle pressurised situations and around that he was T7 in Hawaii and T20 at Pebble Beach, a place he has previously won at. He was also in the top 20 in Scotland last week in what was just his second official links event although Pebble Beach has similar traits in terms of conditions. His record there combined with his form and long game make me think he’ll come out on top in this three ball.


Back R.Fox First Round Leader (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 67.00 with Betway (1/5 1-6)

Back M.Jordan First Round Leader (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 101.00 with Betway (1/5 1-6)

Back B.Grace First Round Leader (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 101.00 with Betway (1/5 1-6)

Back N.Taylor to beat P.Mickelson & A.Schenk for a 3/10 stake at 3.00 with Betway

Back L.Oosthuizen to beat J.Luiten & C.Lamprecht for a 3/10 stake at 2.15 with Boylesports

Back him here:

Back E.Ferguson to beat A.Arnaus & K.Nakajima for a 3/10 stake at 2.25 with Coral

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