Sports Betting: Combining long odds for Open returns

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The Independent Online
When a golfer's most recent competitive back nine was completed in 43 strokes and prompted the comment that it "has destroyed my swing", it might seem a little surprising to find him at 14-1 second favourite for the British Open.

So pervasive, though, is the belief that it is only a matter of time before Colin Montgomerie wins a major championship that punters will back him for each and every one, for fear of missing out when he finally comes good. Perhaps it is now time for punters to revise this belief, and decide instead that Monty has had enough chances and near-misses to imply that something more than mere misfortune is at work.

Consider, too, that the Scotsman seems to reserve his best for major tournaments on the other side of the Atlantic and the 14-1 is easily resisted. So, too, are the odds about Montgomerie's nearest neighbours in the betting. Nick Faldo (12-1) has all but disappeared from view in recent weeks, Greg Norman (14-1) could not be backed with confidence were he five strokes up with three to play, and Ernie Els (16-1) is simply not in his best form at present.

Even if this quartet is judged poor value, of course, dozens of alternatives remain, but at minimum odds of 25-1 it does not hurt to back two or three of them. It could pay to remember that no American professional has won the Open at Lytham, and certainly there is no shortage of potential winners from the European tour.

One obvious rick is offered by Coral, who quote Robert Allenby, at present third in the Order of Merit, at 40-1 (Hills go only 20-1), while Frank Nobilo, who figured prominently on the US Open leaderboard a few weeks ago, is another very steady player who is overpriced at 50-1 with Ladbrokes.

A final, much more speculative, suggestion is Michael Campbell (100-1 with Ladbrokes), who was the Open leader after three rounds 12 months ago. He has been troubled by injuries since, but is potentially one of the finest players of his generation. At those sort of odds, we can afford to speculate.

BRITISH OPEN (Royal Lytham & St Annes, starts Thursday) Best prices: 12-1 Faldo (Coral, Ladbrokes); 14-1 Montgomerie (Coral, Ladbrokes), Norman (Coral, Ladbrokes); 16-1 Els (Corals, Tote); 25-1 Couples (Coral, Tote), Pavin (Hills), Langer (Coral, Ladbrokes, Tote), Woosnam (Coral); 28-1 Mickelson (Coral); 33- 1 Love (Hills), Elkington (Coral, Tote); 40-1 Lehman (Hills), O'Meara (Coral, Hills), Allenby (Coral); 50-1 Nobilo (Ladbrokes), Singh (Hills), Daly (Hills, Ladbrokes), Faxon (Hills, Ladbrokes), Frost (Coral, Hills), Torrance (Coral, Tote), Watson (Coral), Brooks (Coral, Hills, Ladbrokes, Tote); 66-1 bar.