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The Open Championship 2013

July 14th, 2013

The 142nd Open Championship takes place at Muirfield in East Lothian this week and is the sport's third major championship of the year. There's no bigger week for golf betting and the bookmakers are offering plenty of incentives to get involved. Coverage is live on BBC2, starting on Thursday morning at 9am.

Ernie Els is the defending champion having won at Royal Lytham in 2012 and he is also the most recent winner of the 15 editions to be staged at this venue, beating Stuart Appleby, Steve Elkington and Thomas Levet in a play-off to land the 2002 title. That record will ensure the big South African has plenty of support this week.

Els, who won the BMW International Open last month to show his game is still in great shape, is a best price of 28/1 with Paddy Power and William Hill who are both paying out on seven places - most firms are offering six this week - while BetVictor are offering a whopping eight places. If Els wins he will become the third back-to-back winner in the last nine years, following on from Padraig Harrington and Tiger Woods.

Woods, naturally, is the market leader. The three-time Open winner will be a popular selection and the best odds you can get are 9/1 with Paddy Power. Coral are as short as 7/1, but Tiger has now gone five years without adding to his haul of major titles and there has to be better value available elsewhere in the field. If you do want to back world number one then a better bet would be the 11/8 offered by Paddy Power on him finishing in the Top 10 (odds-on with every other bookmaker).

Graeme McDowell is certainly one to watch. He may have missed five cuts in his last eight tournaments, but he has gone on to win the other three and only Woods, with four victories, can boast a better conversion rate on either the PGA or European Tours this season. McDowell, who tied for fifth last year, is a 25/1 chance pretty much across the board, so if you're going to back him do so with BetVictor and benefit from that eighth place.

The year's two previous major winners are second and third in the betting, with US Open champion Justin Rose a 20/1 shot and Masters winner Adam Scott available at 22/1 - both with Paddy Power.

Next up is Phil Mickelson, who spent last week honing his links course skills at Castle Stuart, where he won the Scottish Open. Mickelson has never won this competition - his four major titles have come at The Masters (three) and the USPGA - but he was runner-up to Darren Clarke in 2011. In the last 10 years he has been a contender only twice and the Sunday morning price of 25/1 looked about right in that context. However, the best you'll get now is 22/1 with Paddy Power following his win in Inverness.

After going well until Sunday evening at the Scottish Open, Henrik Stenson is another man whose price could shorten ahead of Thursday's first round. He can still be backed at 40/1 with Bet365 and Paddy Power and he's a strong selection as his form returns.

Luke Donald has been in the top five at The Open in two of the last four years and looks a good bet at 28/1 with Paddy Power and William Hill with that seventh place, while Rory McIlroy is best price 28/1 with Stan James - unappealing given the season he has had.

There are some interesting selections at bigger prices, with Thomas Bjorn available at 66/1 with BetVictor after a recent good run of form. The Dane has had a couple of top five finishes in the last 10 years and tied for eighth the last time The Open visited Muirfield.

Mikko Ilonen has played his way into The Open for the first time, with a victory at the Nordea Masters and two runners-up places this season, and he showed he can cope with the demands of links golf with a good week at Castle Stuart. The Finn can be backed at 125/1 with Paddy Power and William Hill and is a good each-way outsider.

Finally, South Africa’s Thomas Aiken has finished in the top 10 at The Open in two of the last four years and the winner of the Avantha Masters in March is worth strong consideration at 250/1 with Bet365 (6 places).

Henrik Stenson Tournament Winner 40/1 Paddy Power & Bet365
Ernie Els Tournament Winner 28/1 Paddy Power & William Hill
Graeme McDowell Tournament Winner 25/1 BetVictor
Thomas Bjorn Tournament Winner 66/1 BetVictor
Mikko Ilonen Tournament Winner 125/1 Paddy Power & William Hill
Thomas Aiken Tournament Winner 250/1 Bet365

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