Sports Betting: Power play gives Woods the edge

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The Independent Online
The omens are not good for a British victory in the Open as an exceptional field prepares to tee off at Royal Troon later this week. The last Open at Troon produced an American winner, Mark Calcavecchia, the last two Open winners have also come from across the Atlantic, and the most recent, Tom Lehman, demonstrated that he has peaked at the right moment with his comfortable success at Loch Lomond on Saturday.

Lehman, though, is still not the favourite. That privilege falls to Tiger Woods, another player at the top of his form. The only surprise about the Tiger's price is that while Hills and Ladbrokes have him clear of the field on 5-1 and 6-1 respectively, Coral have him at 8-1, just two points shorter than Colin Montgomerie. Woods' ability to cope with a Scottish gale may still be a cause for some doubt, but immense power off the tee gives him such an advantage that Coral's offer demands to be taken.

Certainly, 8-1 about Woods makes far more appeal than quotes of 10-1 and 12-1 about Colin Montgomerie and Greg Norman, who have been tested and found wanting in the majors too many times in recent years. There is no shortage of serious contenders at far longer odds. Any of the 25 or so players at 50-1 or less in the betting would be a perfectly credible winner, but by the same token it would be possible to back a dozen of them and still find yourself with nobody left to cheer for when the leaders go out for the final round.

The best approach, perhaps, is to look for one player with consistent form and another who has hit a lifetime high in the last few weeks, a strategy which leads to Lee Westwood (50-1 with Coral) and Retief Goosen (66-1, Hills and Coral). Westwood's name has seemed to be ever-present on the leader boards this year, while Goosen, a tournament winner less than a month ago, set a course record in the final round at Loch Lomond.

BRITISH OPEN (Royal Troon, starts Thursday): Best prices: 8-1 Woods (C), 10-1 Montgomerie (C, L), 11-1 Els (C), 12-1 Norman (C,H,L), 16-1 Lehman (C), Faldo (H,L), 20-1 Price (H), 40-1 Woosnam (L), Olazabal (L), Mickelson (H,L), Elkington (H), Langer (C,H,L), Love III (C,H), Furyk (C,H,L), 50- 1 Faxon (C,L), Nobilo (C), Westwood (C), O'Meara (C,L), Leonard (C), Parnevik (H,L), Janzen (C,H), Singh (H,L), Couples (L), 66-1 Clarke (H), Duval (H), Frost (C,H), Cook (H), Maggert (C,H), Roberts (H), Stankowski (C,H), Goosen (C,H), Hoch (C,H,L), Jones (C,H), Stewart (H,L), 80-1 bar.

C Coral, L Ladbroke, H Hills