The Open Championship kicks off this Thursday, the third of the four Major Championships of the PGA Tour. If you’re going to be placing a bet, it’s always smart to look for overlays, and forget about bets that don’t have great payouts, even if the golfer is hot. Pro golf is one of those sports where even a great golfer doesn’t have a sure chance of winning a Major. Not only are most of the best golfers in the world entered, there’s such a high amount of variance in a single tournament that even an outsider could surprise us and win.

Before you lock in any bets at Bovada, be sure to read over our value play analysis. Hopefully this will help you to conceive of a better betting strategy and improve your chances of winning money.

Top Ranked Golfers

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler are the two highest ranked golfers in the tournament, being registered at +1100 each at most books. Both Spieth and Fowler are great golfers, but this isn’t necessarily helpful information. Fowler has been a bit more consistent in the big tournaments this season than Spieth has been, so if you’re going to choose one of the top two, Fowler is likely the better choice. The downside of Fowler is that he is more consistently near the top than Spieth. Instead of winning once in a while, and then performing poorly for a few weeks like Spieth does, Fowler is much more consistently in the top ten without winning. For example, Fowler has played in 15 tourneys this season and has 8 top ten appearances and one win. Spieth has played in 15 tourneys, has 7 top tens, and 2 wins. Although Fowler’s a better likelihood to make the top ten, Spieth has a higher ceiling, giving him an edge. If either gets a better payout than the other, that one will be the better bet.

An even better play would be a win bet on Dustin Johnson. With a higher payout at +1300, Johnson has slightly better win stats this season than either Spieth or Fowler. He’s played in 12 tournaments, has 7 top tens, and 2 wins. Yes, Johnson has been cut from his last two tournaments, and one of them was the U.S. Open. That’s a huge reason not to choose Johnson. However, with a payout of +1300, this is a risk that might be worth taking. It’s not unusual for even the best golfer in the world to have a bad tourney, and that is likely all that the U.S. Open was. Ideally, we’d like to see a payout of +1500 if we’re going to bet here, but a small value bet could have a huge return.

Golfers to Avoid

Rory McIlroy is probably going to be one of the most heavily bet on golfers in the field. He is the former number one in the world, but he hasn’t shown signs that he’s returned to that level yet. He was cut in three of his last four tourneys, one of them being the U.S. Open. He has only competed in 9 Tour events this season, and has made 6 cuts, with 4 top tens. Unlike many of those with lower payouts, McIlroy has made less than 50 percent of his top tens. His payout of +1800 is nice, but not enough to warrant a bet until it’s up over +2500.

Another golfer to avoid is Jon Rahm. At +1600, he’s not a high payout, although he’s been very strong this season. The problem with Rahm is that he hasn’t been at the highest level of golf for long. This season has been a breakout one for him. He was cut from the U.S. Open, and placed an unconvincing T-27 at the Masters. Rahm is good, but this isn’t a great price for him.

Potential Surprises

Everyone dreams about that one big payout. If you’re looking for a longshot golfer with a higher chance of winning, this is your section. Brooks Koepka is at the top of his game right now, coming off a win at the U.S. Open. He’s priced at +3500. Phil Mickelson is also someone who can never be counted out. He hasn’t missed a cut yet this season, has 2 top tens, and placed T-22 at the Masters with almost zero preparation for it. A good day could be all that Mickelson needs for an upset, and at +3500, he’s a good underdog bet.