7 Biggest Golf Betting Longshots To Win The Open Championship

Written By Eli Hershkovich | Last Updated
Open Championship Longshots

The Open Championship — otherwise known as The Open or the British Open — is the oldest golf tournament running. The now fourth and final major championship of the calendar year first teed off in 1860 at Prestwick Golf Club in Scotland. The Champion Golfer of the Year is awarded the Claret Jug. The winner keeps the trophy for one year then returns it with a replica provided to keep. It was not until 1872 when St. Andrew’s became a rotating host with Prestwick and Musselburgh (replaced by Muirfield in 1892). Through the decades, British Open longshots have popped up from time to time.

With that in mind, let’s examine the seven biggest Open Championship longshots to cash over the last two–plus decades. You can view live British Open odds here. Record keeping dates back to 1984 for the longshots below.

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7 Biggest British Open Longshots

Among all-time major champs, no one has won more than Jack “the Golden Bear” Nicklaus. Regarding The Open, Henry Vardon owns the record for the most victories, emerging victorious six times during his golf career. But if betting archives existed, Vardon likely wasn’t a big underdog at the event.

For the sake of consistency, let’s set the barometer at +4000 or longer for our British Open longshots. Over the last two decades, there are seven winners who fit this mold. Let’s start with the “shortest” odds from this group.

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T7. Justin Leonard (1997), Ernie Els (2012): 40-1

Despite being listed among the favorites other years, that wasn’t the case for Els in his distinguished career that began professionally in 1989. Going two groups ahead of eventual runner-up Adam Scott, “The Big Easy” birdied the 18th hole to emerge as the leader in the clubhouse (−7). Shortly after, Scott bogeyed each of his final four holes, dropping to second. Ahead just a single stroke, Els won the British Open for the last of his four major victories.

Further back in 1997, Leonard won at Royal Troon by three strokes over Darren Clarke and Jesper Parnevik, finishing 12-under.

Ernie Els holds the Claret Jug after winning The Open in 2012.

T5. Zach Johnson (2015), Shane Lowry (2019): 80-1

During a frantic five days at St. Andrews, Zach Johnson took on the role of David versus Goliath in Jordan Spieth’s attempt for a Grand Slam. Once considered the “Golden Child” of golf, Spieth whiffed on an an eight-foot putt on the 17th hole for a bogey before his final birdie attempt trickled left. Johnson made of the most of Spieth’s blunders en route to his second major victory, fending off Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman in a playoff. Don’t worry, Oosthuizen’s triumph comes later on in this Open Championship longshots flashback.

Thanks to a final-round score of 72, the Republic of Ireland’s Shane Lowry delivered a six-shot triumph over runner-up Tommy Fleetwood at Royal Portrush in his native land of Northern Ireland. It represents Lowry’s lone major championship to date after first debuting at the 2009 Irish Open as a 22-year-old amateur.

Zach Johnson poses with the Claret Jug at St. Andrew’s in 2015.

T3. Stewart Cink (2009), Brian Harman (2023): +12500

Did Tom Watson and Lee Westwood lose the 2009 edition of the Open Championship more the Cink deserved to win it? Maybe, but golf (betting) can certainly be as cruel as it is rewarding. Cink went onto birdie the 18th hole while Watson and Westwood failed to do so. Moreover, Clink was one of small number of golfers who break par in the final round at Turnberry.

Stewart Cink admires the Claret Jug with Open Championship legend Tom Watson in 2019.

Fast forward to Royal Liverpool in 2023, and Brian Harman was looking for only his third PGA TOUR win and first since 2017. After 36 holes of the 151st Open Championship, Harman had a commanding five-stroke lead over Tommy Fleetwood. Harman could be found as long as 175-1 early tournament week. He went on to win fairly comfortably, as the only player in the field to touch double digits under par. Harman finished at -13 to win by six strokes on a rainy Sunday in northwest England.

Brian Harman holds the Claret Jug in Hoylake, England. (AP)

2. Darren Clarke (2011): +15000

Clarke, the oldest British Open champion since 1967, shot an even-par 70 on the final day. It was good enough to stave off Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson while winning by three strokes at Royal St. George’s. Dating all the way back to 1894, this course featured the first-ever English fairways to host the Open Championship. Clark remains the only Northern Irishman to win The Open there.

Darren Clarke hoists the Claret Jug in front of the traditional Open yellow scoreboard in 2011.

1. Louis Oosthuizen (2010): +20000

The biggest of British Open longshots! The South African tallied an opening-round score of 65 and never looked back. Oosthuzien, whose most notable previous victory came at the Andalucia Open that same year, finished 16-under-par. He landed strokes ahead of Lee Westwood and eight in front of Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, and Paul Casey. The win shifted Oosthuizen from 54th to 15th in the world rankings, earning him a crisp $1.31 million. His backers hauled in a hefty profit to boot.

british open longshots
Louis Oosthuizen poses on the famous Swilken Bridge on the Olde Course at St. Andrew’s in 2010.

Honorable Mention: John Daly (1995)

John Daly was not listed among the options and included in a 10-1 field bet. In modern times, surely he would have made this list though with the outright odds on individuals ending at 60-1 back then. Italian Costantino Rocca miraculously jarred a 65-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to force a playoff. The four-hole playoff at St. Andrew’s included holes 1, 2, 17 (famous road hole) and 18. Daly shot 1-under par in the playoff and won by four strokes.

Daly is among several others that would have been longshots if they were not included in Field bets to win The Open:

  • Paul Lawrie (1999)
  • Ben Curtis (2003)
  • Todd Hamilton (2004)
british open longshots
John Daly with the Claret Jug receives a kiss from his wife Paulette at St. Andrews in 1995.

How To Find The Best Golf Longshots Every Week

Each week, TheLines.com golf betting writer John Haslbauer posts which sleepers and longshots he thinks will perform the best after assembling his model with the stats that matter most for a given course — whether they’re among Open Championship odds or any other event the PGA TOUR schedule.

Photos courtesy of: Associated Press
Odds source: Sports Odds History