The Open Betting

The Open, which is the commonly used name for The Open Championship or “The British Open,” ranks as the oldest of professional golf’s major championships. Played in England on the weekend of the third Friday each July, it is also unique as the only one of golf’s four biggest tournaments that is held outside the United States.

The governing body responsible for The Open’s administration has long been the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews. The Open was first held in October of 1860 at the 12-hole Prestwick Golf Club in Ayrshire, Scotland, where only professionals were allowed to compete. Eight Scottish golfers played three rounds in a single day, with Willie Park Senior emerging as the winner.

Although Park received no cash prize, he took possession of the Challenge Belt provided by the Earl of Eglinton. Made of morocco leather, it was embellished with a silver buckle and emblems and would remain the winner’s prize until 1870. It was eventually purchased by the members of Prestwick Golf Club, where it is kept as a proud symbol of The Open’s heritage.

From 1861 onward, amateurs were allowed to enter the competition, and soon a prize pool was established. In 1864, Tom Morris Senior won the belt and £6 for his victory. In 1870, Morris’s son, Tom Junior, won it for the third consecutive time and retired it. A winner’s medal was introduced as the top prize until a proper silver Golf Champion Trophy could be created. Made by Mackay Cunningham & Company of Edinburgh, “The Claret Jug” was first presented to the 1873 winner Tom Kidd, although Tom Morris Junior’s name was engraved on it as the 1872 medal winner. There was no tournament in 1871.

The Open was always held in Scotland until 1894, when the challenging new St. George’s Golf Club in Sandwich, England was selected as the venue. Since then, thirteen different courses have been used for The Open, including one in Ireland, with St. George’s 27 tournaments heading the list ahead of Prestwick’s 24.

Nowadays, The Open takes place over a rotation of nine courses in Scotland and England and it features a prize fund of some £4.8 million. The winner’s share is £850,000, but the opportunity to which every professional golfer aspires is to raise in victory The Claret Jug—the most cherished and coveted trophy in golf. Medals are still awarded, too, not just for the Open Champion, but also for the leading amateur in the tournament.

Like the other three majors (The Masters, the U.S. Open, and the PGA Championship), The Open features four rounds of 18 holes played on a Thursday through Sunday. However, it is unique in the way ties are handled at the end of regulation play, featuring a four-hole playoff. Sudden death holes are played only if two or more players remain tied after the four additional holes.

International Final Qualifying events were introduced for The Open in 2004. Today, they are conducted on five continents in order to allow more players from around the world to participate. In 2011, more than 2,500 golfers were expected to compete for a place at St. George’s, the site for the most recent edition. The field is limited to a total of 156 players, of which only the leading 70, and those tied for 70th place after two rounds (the cut), may move on to play for the final 36 holes.

Ante post wagering on the next outright winner of The Open begins almost immediately after the current year’s winner is known, but it kicks into high gear immediately following announcement of the results for the U.S. Open in June. Betting is also possible on who will fail to make the cut along with player “match betting,” whereby two players are paired up in a hypothetical 72-hole contest. Groups of players can be bet on, too, with odds offered on which will fare better.

A wager known as “ball betting” is also available. During the first and second day (pre-cut), “three ball betting” has three golfers grouped together for a round with bets on which member of the threesome will have the lowest score of the day. On the last two days of the tournament (post-cut), “two ball betting” pairs up golfers to see who will record the best round. In-running or “live” betting on other markets, including near-pin shots, putts made or missed, and longest drive, is also offered.

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