Harman, once a longshot, now favoured to win The Open

golf21 July 2023 23:40| © Reuters
article image
Brian Harman © Gallo Images

Brian Harman holds a five-shot lead entering the weekend at The 151st Open, but his lead on the odds boards is a bit narrower than that.

Tee Times | Win with Val de Vie | Watch on DStv

The lefty from Georgia was the +600 favourite to win The Open at BetMGM as of Friday evening, while second-place Tommy Fleetwood of England moved to +650 to win the major championship.

Harman opened as a +20000 longshot to win his first major at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, a number that improved slightly to +12500 before the first round commenced. Now he's sitting pretty at 10-under-par 132 after he eagled his final hole for a bogey-free 65 on Friday.

Despite his relative longshot status, the signs were there. At last year's Open at St Andrews, he rallied to a tie for sixth with a final-round 66. In Harman's last three starts before coming to Liverpool, he tied for second, ninth and 12th, respectively.

And Harman's accurate style of play is suited for links golf. He ranks second in driving accuracy this week (75 per cent), ending up in one of Royal Liverpool's 82 bunkers just one time.

BetMGM said 6.1 per cent of the total handle is now on Harman to win.

Fleetwood, who grew up just 30 miles from the course, was at +2200 to win before the start of the first round and +600 after he finished Thursday as one of three co-leaders at 5 under. After shooting even-par 71 in his second trip around the course, Fleetwood is still second on the board, with 6.3 per cent of the tickets and 8.1 per cent of the money placed on him.

Fleetwood could become the first Englishman since Tony Jacklin in 1969 to win The Open on English soil.

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and Scottie Scheffler, the second and first-ranked players in the world, come next on the odds board despite a tremendous deficit.

McIlroy, 1 under through two rounds, is at +700 to win. Scheffler – who nearly missed the cut before birdieing No 18 to make it on the number at 3 over – is just +800 to win even as he enters Saturday 13 shots behind Harman.

Scheffler has seven straight top-five finishes and hasn't finished a tournament lower than T12 since October. He's BetMGM's biggest liability this week, with 9.5 per cent of the tickets and 14.1 per cent of the handle betting on him to win.

Viktor Hovland of Norway and five-time major winner Brooks Koepka had some of the biggest line movement, with both now +1600 to win. Hovland (even through two rounds) started the week at +2800 and Koepka (3 over) began at +3300.