2023 British Open Preview: Everything To Know About Royal Liverpool Golf Club

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Written By John Haslbauer | Last Updated
british open odds

The British Open is coming to Hoylake at Royal Liverpool Golf Club for this season’s fourth and final Major championship. Find bigger golf odds at the best sports betting sites to increase your potential payouts. Scottie Scheffler and Rory McIlroy opened as co-favorites on 2023 sportsbook odds tables for The Open Championship.

Calling all folks and blokes! A convergence of the best golfers in the world across the PGA TOUR, DP World Tour, and LIV Tour brings us to the fourth and final Major championship of 2023. Royal Liverpool Golf Club, colloquially known as just “Hoylake,” is set to host the 151st running of the Open Championship. Despite the events long and rich history, this will be just our third trip to Royal Liverpool since 1967. We’ll get the week kicked off with our usual course preview and look at the British Open odds.

I love everything about The Open. Links golf is golf in its purest form. It rewards thoughtful, strategic, and creative play with true hazards to penalize a reckless bomb-and-gouge approach. In the case of Hoylake, we’ll see strategically placed pot bunkers, lush fescue, gorse bushes, and internal out-of-bounds neighboring the fairways which will make players think twice before pulling driver on each hole. An exceptionally flat design mere meters from the coastline, any semblance of wind this week will be felt with nothing else on the property to interfere.

The removal of pure distance advantage at The Open Championship gives this event a more accessible feel to the field at large compared to the other three majors on the schedule.

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The 151st Open Championship

From a golf betting perspective, The Open presents a challenge as one of the most difficult events of the year to use data predictively. The reasons for that include the randomness of weather and its significant effect on certain waves versus others, the absence of any historical ShotLink/Strokes Gained data to model off of, and the fact that links golf is an entirely different animal. Case in point, we have plenty of players in the field whose last 12 rounds have been played across TPC Deere Run, Detroit Golf Club, and TPC River Highlands. That’s not exactly translatable to what lies in store ahead at Royal Liverpool, so my betting decisions for this week will be more anecdotally based, using stat modeling directionally to guide those decisions.

With big shoes to follow after seeing Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy hoist the Claret Jug in the last two British Opens contested at Royal Liverpool, I expect this recently modernized property to continue to reward the top, in-form players from tee-to-green yet again. I’m looking to isolate the most consistent total drivers who excel in Par-4: 450+, Prox: 200+, and short game on and around large and slow greens. With Hoylake susceptible to high winds and inclement weather, it will be crucial to monitor the weather forecast throughout the week, as is always the case at any British Open.

Without further ado, let’s run through the key facts and info about Royal Liverpool Golf Club ahead of the 2023 British Open. Scroll to the bottom for complete outright odds and to compare prices across the best sportsbooks in your state. Click on any PGA TOUR odds bet now.

BRITISH OPEN FIELD AT A GLANCE

The field contains 156 players for the 151st Open Championship. Four spots remain up for grabs between top qualifying finishers at the previous week’s Scottish Open and Barbasol Championship. A majority of the field qualified by way of a top-50 Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) or by a top-30 ranking from the 2022 DP World Tour season.

Nineteen spots were up for grabs in Final Qualifying, which brought added drama for top LIV players who were otherwise blocked out by their diminishing OWGR rank. Alex Fitzpatrick, Branden Grace, Thomas Detry, Antoine Rozner, Charl Schwartzel, and Laurie Canter highlight the list of notables to earn their way into the field of 156 via Final Qualifying. Matthew Jordan, a member at Royal Liverpool, will be a fan favorite on the grounds as well.

Additional qualifying criteria include recent major champions and top placements in the national open championships across international tours, with the next available OWGR-ranked players rounding out the field. This shapes up as the most top-heavy major this year as every OWGR top-60 player will be teeing it up (except for Will Zalatoris, who is recovering from injury).

Cam Davis, Adam Hadwin, Matt Kuchar, Mito Pereira, and Keith Mitchell are the first alternates on call, should there be any withdrawals.

DP World Tour, LIV Players In Action

Another major means the return of LIV players. Most notably, defending Open Champion, Cam Smith. It will be very interesting to see how he fares on a tight and demanding setup off the tee this time around after winning on generous fairways last year. Smith enters in peak form with a win and eight consecutive top-12 finishes. In addition to Smith, 15 LIV players tee it up this week, with Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, and Bryson DeChambeau also opening among the favorites. From the DP World Tour, Min Woo Lee, Ryan Fox, Adrian Meronk, Yannick Paul, Victor Perez and Lucas Herbert highlight the top names to watch.

Rory McIlroy was the last player to hoist the Claret Jug at Hoylake in 2014. He returns to chase his first Major championship since then. Cam Smith, Collin Morikawa, Shane Lowry, Francesco Molinari, Jordan Spieth, Henrik Stenson, Zach Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Darren Clarke, Stewart Cink, Louis Oosthuizen, Padraig Harrington, and John Daly join Rory as the former champions in the field. Tiger Woods continues to rehab an injury and will not be here to rekindle the magic from his 2006 win at Hoylake.

INTRODUCTION ROYAL LIVERPOOL Golf Club

Established three years before the first Open Championship in 1869, Royal Liverpool Golf Club holds plenty of history in the game of golf. It is set to host The Open Championship for the 13th time, but only the third time since 1967. Over its tenure in the rota, some of the greatest golfers in the history of the sport have been crowned here. The list of renowned champions includes Walter Hagen (1924), Bobby Jones (1930), Tiger Woods (2006), and Rory McIlroy (2014).

Built by Robert Chambers and George Morris, Royal Portrush Golf Club is not the most groundbreaking or distinct architectural achievement, instead relying on its flat and un-intruded exposure to the River Dee. When winds are calm and soft, the best players in the world are fully capable of going low here. However, it does not take much of a gust for players to feel the impact of the wind on this open terrain.

Unique to Royal Liverpool is the close proximity of its hazards to the fairways, daring players to take on more high risk, high reward tee shots. Internal out-of-bounds is in play on six holes at Hoylake. Those may bait players into taking more conservative tee shots at the expense of longer approaches into the greens.

Tiger famously kept the driver in his bag throughout the tournament in his 2006 win; Rory McIlroy followed a similarly conservative strategy in his 2014 victory after leading the field in driving accuracy. The course has since been lengthened to presumably encourage less layups off the tee in 2023.

Changes Since 2014

In 2014, Royal Liverpool played as a 7,312 yard par-72. Nine years later, the course has been lengthened by about 70 yards. They also converted what was once an easy par-5 10th hole to a long, challenging par-4 to kick off the back nine. The two par-5s remaining on the back nine were each lengthened beyond 600 yards as well. Without a helping wind, players will now need to earn their birdies on a much more intimidating closing stretch than past years.

The brand new 136-yard par-3 17th hole will also be introduced, replacing the 15th hole of a similar distance. This short hole features a diabolical infinity green pressed against the coastline and can require anything from a gap wedge to 5-iron depending on the wind.

Breaking Down Royal Liverpool

A 7,383 yard par-71, Royal Liverpool isn’t long for the sake of being long like a traditional major venue. But, it offers an advantage to players who consistently hit their driver accurately. The wind plays a significant impact throughout the week, however, so prevailing and westerly winds produce major swings in the course’s true yardage. Accuracy is more important than distance on this track, but there are enough long par-4s and long par-5s to make players think twice before keeping the driver in the bag.

This par-71 features three par-5s, four par-3s, and 11 par-4s. Scoring opportunities primarily come from the short par-4 4th and par-5 5th, both reachable for eagle opportunities. Players need to capitalize scoring on these two holes, as there are not many other gimme birdies on this course.

With seven par-4s measuring over 450 yards and three par-3s over 190 yards, long iron play will be crucial, as we’ve come to expect at most major venues.

Given its exposure to high winds off the coasts, the fescue-based greens run slow, as is typical on links-style courses. The oversized greens create flexibility to move pin locations around each day, with tight runoffs surrounding the greens to give players options with shots around the green.

For Royal Liverpool course specs, hole-by-hole breakdown with yardages, and past British Open winners with their pre-tournament odds, visit our British Open Odds page.

Editor’s Note

EVENT HISTORY AND COURSE COMPS

It’s been nine years since we last saw Royal Liverpool host the British Open, and another eight years before that. Surprisingly, quite a few past contenders return to the field this week. Rory highlights as a former champion and 2023 betting favorite. Adam Scott is the only player in this field to have finished top-10 in both 2006 and 2014 at Royal Liverpool. Sergio Garcia achieved the same feat, but did not qualify for the 2023 Open.

Charl Schwartzel, Phil Mickelson, and Henrik Stenson all made it through the cut in each of the last two British Opens at Royal Liverpoool. In 2014, Rickie Fowler finished runner up by just two strokes, while Shane Lowry, Dustin Johnson, Francesco Molinari, Keegan Bradley, and Chris Kirk each finished inside the top 20.

British Open History

No two British Open courses are exactly the same, but every venue on the rota shares a British links design. Weather understandably had a different impact each year, but tournament history can still go a long way in predicting the types of players whose games suit this unique style of play.

Ten players avoided missing the cut over the last five British Open contests (min. three starts): Jordan Spieth, Tommy Fleetwood, Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, Robert MacIntyre, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, and Thorbjorn Olesen.

Fifteen players finished in the top 15 multiple times at the British Open in the last five years: Spieth, Fleetwood, McIlroy, Finau, Schauffele, Koepka, Lowry, Francesco Molinari, MacIntyre, Rahm, Noren, Dustin Johnson, Hovland, Cantlay, and Hatton.

Over the last five years, the top 10 players in British Open Event History are: Jordan Spieth, Tommy Fleetwood, Rory McIlroy, Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, Brooks Koepka, Shane Lowry, Francesco Molinari, Jon Rahm, and Rickie Fowler. No surprises on this list, but it’s interesting to note that all 10 are past Ryder Cup players with experience playing in a high pressure European atmosphere.

Course Comps

I usually spend a majority of my research time identifying the best course comps to project recent results within the past year onto the field. In Majors, I tend to de-prioritize the importance of Comp Course History, as the atmosphere of a standard TOUR event is not comparable to that of a Major. In the case of the British Open, it’s typically best to prioritize performance on other links courses, whether it be the Scottish Open, Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, or past British Open venues.

Comparing Hoylake To Other Links Venues

It’s an interesting position for Hoylake immediately following play at The Renaissance Club and the year immediately following The Old Course at St. Andrews. Those latest links examples fall on the extreme side in terms of forgiveness off the tee for bombers. Hoylake, on the other hand, falls further down the other end of the driving accuracy spectrum. You simply cannot spray the ball off the tee, given the amount of internal out of bounds and pinched fairways with surrounding tall fescue and gorse.

If weather conditions remain calm, then Royal St. George’s – host of the 2021 British Open – may serve as the best comp amongst recent Open venues. Royal Portrush, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, and Muirfield also serve as solid comps to reference from.

Stateside Comps

Leaving the proper links comps behind, the logical first stateside comparison from a profile and leaderboard overlap standpoint would have to be TPC Sawgrass. Tiger and Rory have each won at both, which isn’t saying much considering how many wins they have between them. But Adam Scott, Rickie Fowler, and Sergio Garcia also each have wins at THE PLAYERS to go along with their top-5 finishes at Hoylake.

Both courses share an emphasis on positioning off the tee and creativity around the greens. Hoylake replaces TPC Sawgrass’ many water hazards with ample internal OB areas to penalize wayward ball striking. Scottie Scheffler, Tyrrell Hatton, Tom Hoge, Viktor Hovland, and Hideki Matsuyama finished inside the top-5 at THE PLAYERS and each are in the field this week.

I’ve always felt that desert golf offers the best proxy for links conditions for stateside comps. Both share firm and fast conditions and quirky hazards for tee shots that run off the fairway. Finau, Rahm, and Fowler highlight a long list of players with overlapping success in desert and links conditions. With that in mind, TPC Scottsdale and TPC Summerlin are worth a reference for firm and fast courses that penalize misses off the tee.

Wrap that all together, and the top 10 players in comp course history are: Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler, Matt Fitzpatrick, Xander Schauffele, Rory McIlroy, Collin Morikawa, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Cameron Smith, and Patrick Reed.

KEY STATS TO CONSIDER WITH BRITISH OPEN ODDS

  • Bogey Avoidance / Double Bogey Avoidance
  • SG: OTT / SG: OTT (<7,200-yard Courses)
  • SG: APP / Prox: 200+
  • Par-4: 450+
  • Par-5: 600-650
  • SG: ARG / Scrambling Gained
  • SG: Putting (Total) / SG: P (Slow Greens) / 3-Putt Avoidance
  • SG: TOT (High Winds)
  • Major Championship History (L5 Years)
  • Course & Comp Course History

Given the different types of shots required at an Open Championship links course, it’s not a week to blindly follow the stat model. The shot-making on standard TOUR courses doesn’t necessary translate. History has shown, however, that players in top form entering the Open tend to leave with the Claret Jug. Few surprise winners emerge. Since 2012, every winner has fallen inside the OWGR top-40.

I’ll take a stance on the importance of total driving this week, as I believe a softer course with adjustments to lengthen certain holes will allow for separation from the elite drivers who can keep the ball in play. The top-10 in SG: OTT leading into this week are: Scottie Scheffler, Patrick Cantlay, Viktor Hovland, Bryson DeChambeau, Rory McIlroy, Joaquin Niemann, Gary Woodland, Corey Conners, Tyrrell Hatton, and Cameron Young.

To account for select holes where players will be forced to take less than driver, the top-10 in SG: OTT on Short, Positional courses includes DeChambeau, Rahm, Conners, McIlroy, Scheffler, Cantlay, Sungjae Im, Brian Harman, Brooks Koepka, and Collin Morikawa.

Windy links courses can deprioritize the importance of SG: APP with well-struck shots going unrewarded on tight runoffs. Looking instead at a combination of elite approach and around-the-green play, there are just 10 players who rank top-30 in both: Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Russell Henley, Justin Rose, Tony Finau, Wyndham Clark, and Jordan Spieth.

Drawing From Major-like Conditions

This week, with concerted efforts made to withstand modern technology by lengthening certain holes, Royal Liverpool Golf Club should play more like a modern major venue than many of the British Open courses that preceded it.

Common with the Masters, PGA Championship, and U.S. Open, a high concentration of 40% of the holes at Royal Liverpool fall in the Par-4: 450+ range. The wind and firmness of the course impacts the true distance of the course. But all things being equal, the skillsets of long par-4 scoring and proximity with long irons continue to be crucial at the year’s fourth major. The top 10 players in terms of Par-4: 450+ Scoring are: Ryan Fox, Patrick Cantlay, Scottie Scheffler, Wyndham Clark, Rory McIlroy, Bryson DeChambeau, Xander Schauffele, Justin Rose, Lee Hodges, and Tyrrell Hatton. The top-10 in Prox: 200+ are Jon Rahm, Tom Hoge, Viktor Hovland, Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Tom Kim, Tony Finau, Thorbjorn Olesen, and Scott Stallings.

Custom Stats

Weighted putting is a crucial stat this week. Links golf tends to produce much larger and slower greens than we would typically see on the PGA TOUR. Looking at a combination of SG: P (L36), 3-Putt Avoidance, and SG: P (Slow Greens), the top-10 putters equipped to handle this course are: Tyrrell Hatton, Jason Day, Cam Smith, Sam Burns, Jon Rahm, Patrick Reed, Matt Fitzpatrick, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, and Denny McCarthy.

Taking a simple view of those who rank above-average in SG: OTT, SG: APP, Prox: 200+, SG: ARG, and Weighted Putting, just 10 players remain: Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood, Matt Fitzpatrick, Rickie Fowler, Denny McCarthy, Brooks Koepka, Joaquin Niemann, Keegan Bradley, and Max Homa.

The perfect profile of player for this week should be above average in both the Driving Distance, Driving Accuracy, SG: OTT (Short Positional Courses), Major History, Comp Links History, Par-4: 450+, Par-5: 600-650, Prox: 200+, and SG: ARG. That’s a very specific criteria, but six players check each box: Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, Hideki Matsuyama, Si Woo Kim, and Russell Henley. Scheffler, McIlroy, and Koepka are the only players to also rank above average in weighted putting.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: BROOKS KOEPKA

I am not a Brooks guy by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I’m probably the human personification of the Squidward meme, peering through my proverbial window for each of his first five career major victories while the rest of the golf betting community celebrates. This time around, all roads lead me back to Brooks. He checks every conceivable box I can think of for the prototypical type of player to attack Hoylake.

Course Fit

The more I research Royal Liverpool, the more I notice a lack of importance in shot-shaping off the tee. The course does not ask players to move the ball in either direction and, in fact, a piercing straight ball will be ideal to mitigate the wind’s effect on the ball. Brooks has capitalized on his long and straight ball striking on linear venues like Bethpage Black and Oak Hill, and that’s a skillset that should continue to translate well at Hoylake. With a long and arduous closing stretch, Brooks undoubtedly has the demeanor to withstand these nervy tee shots with out-of-bounds looming closely.

Those skillsets translate well at The Open, as Brooks finished top-10 in four of his last six Open appearances. It’ll be a fun and deadly drinking game to see how many times the broadcast crew remind us he “cut his teeth on the European Challenge Tour” before earning PGA TOUR membership. Those European ties continue to run deep for Brooks, as he’ll have long time caddie Ricky Elliot on the bag to offer up his extensive links knowledge.

From a health standpoint, Brooks has shown no sign of lingering issues at this juncture of the season, especially with the reduced workload brought by his new LIV schedule. But if there were still any lingering injury concerns, Hoylake is the perfect track to tolerate them on, as it may well be the most flat course he’s seen all season.

Motivation

Not many golfers have proven capable of rebounding from the mental and physical exhaustion that comes with taking down a major championship. Many will write Books off simply to say he’s already gotten his win this year in an emotional victory at Oak Hill. However, he already proved up to the task of rebounding from that mental high, winning both the PGA Championship and U.S. Open in 2018. It goes without saying that Brooks only cares about four events per year, so I expect Hoylake to hold his full attention.

We should also not lose sight of the groundswell that will surround Rory this week as he returns to defend his 2014 victory. He also carries a Scottish Open victory into this weekend.

Versatility In Different Scoring Conditions

The beauty of the British Open is how differently a given course plays depending on if the elements intervene. With a player like Brooks, he’s shown he can compete regardless if the winds pick up or not.

The nastier conditions get, the more that should play into Brooks’ hands. He’s proven time and time again to separate himself on harder venues. Case in point, he shined at a firm, windy, and difficult links course at the 2018 U.S. Open when he won at Shinnecock Hills at 1-over par. His success is not limited to pure grind events, though – he also won at Erin Hills the year prior at 16-under par under much calmer conditions.

Ahead of the 2022 British Open, I knew Cam Smith was an ideal fit for St. Andrews and ultimately resisted pulling the trigger because I’d missed the boat on better futures odds earlier in the year. I feel a very similar atmosphere around Brooks heading into Hoylake, so I won’t make the same mistake twice. He’ll be a fixture on my betting card at 20-1 odds or better.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR WITH 2023 BRITISH OPEN ODDS

I’ve cleared my calendar this weekend and prepared to pull a few all-nighters to soak in the fourth and final major of the year. Royal Liverpool is not the most provocative or historically memorable course on The Open rota, but everything I’ve read up on about their latest adjustments to toughen up the course has me excited to see how this traditional landscape holds up against the best players in the world. Going out with a bang, these are my five bold predictions a week out from tee off at the 151st Open Championship.

Bold Predictions

  • Cam Smith struggles to keep the ball in play off the tee and finishes outside the top-30 in his title defense
  • Max Homa draws inspiration from Wyndham Clark to break the major slump and post his first career major top-10
  • Russell Henley leads the field in driving accuracy, quietly picking up his third top-20 major finish of 2023
  • The elements finally intervene at the British Open for the first time since 2019, with a winning score of just -10
  • At -10, Brooks Koepka picks up his second major of 2023, a green jacket short of the career grand slam

With all the course-fit profiles in mind, I’m leaning early towards the below player pool. Naturally, I’m looking their way in 2023 British Open odds, as well. I’ve broken the list down by projected pricing/odds tier for DraftKings.  

2023 British Open Odds Model Breakdown

In my model, I’m emphasizing SG: OTT, SG: ARG, Weighted Putting (L36, 3-Putt Avoidance, Slow Greens), Par-4: 450+, and Major History (L5 Years) followed by a balanced mix of Prox: 200+, SG: APP, Bogey or Worse Avoidance, Scrambling Gained, Par-5: 600-650, Good Drives Gained, and SG: OTT (<7,200 Yard Courses), and SG: TOT (Comp Links Courses).

British Open Odds: Model Favorites

Unsurprisingly, it’s world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler who comes out on top of the model. Ranking No. 1 in SG: OTT, SG: ARG, SG: APP, Bogey Avoidance, and Major History, it’s tough to argue against Scheffler’s chances to pick up his second career Major championship. The odds agree but, with random weather conditions looming, I’m less likely to back Scheffler this week as I was for the U.S. Open.

After Scheffler, the rest of my model’s top 10 rounds out with: Jon Rahm, Patrick Cantlay, Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele, Tommy Fleetwood, Hideki Matsuyama, Matt Fitzpatrick, Rickie Fowler, and Russell Henley.

Demonstrating remarkable restraint, I kept patient without a single future places on the 2023 British Open. I’m hoping to have a clear understanding of any weather split advantages in such a weather-impacted event. When the weather outlook is more clear, I’ll look to build my betting card around Brooks Koepka, Collin Morikawa, and Hideki Matsuyama. Check back in later this week for more updates. Best of luck navigating 2023 British Open odds!

UPDATE: All of my Open Championship bets

COMPARE 2023 BRITISH OPEN ODDS

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