10 dark horse candidates to win 2019 British Open

By Michael Dixon
Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

Golf’s major season will wrap up this weekend at the 2019 Open Championship. The British Open features plenty of big name favorites. But at The Open, plenty of dark horses have a real chance.

Winning majors can be a real challenge. Fortunately, we know that three of these longshots can overcome that challenge. For most golfers in the field, Royal Portrush is something of a mystery. One golfer has a solid history there. He also happens to be playing quite well. And while they’ve flown somewhat under the radar, two dark horses head to Royal Portrush as among the hottest golfers in the world.

We know who the favorites are, but the British Open almost always has a dark horse or two in contention. These are the most likely to come from that group.

Brandt Snedeker

Since missing the cut at the Masters, Snedeker has made every cut. He finished T5 at The Players Championship and T16 at the PGA. So, we know that Snedeker can still hang with the big boys in the deepest fields. Additionally, Snedeker finished T5 in the Rocket Mortgage Classic. While Snedeker has never won a major, he’s competed in plenty. That, along with the form that we’ve seen throughout 2019 (especially in recent weeks), makes us feel good about Snedeker being a factor at the 2019 Open.

Rafa Cabrera-Bello

Cabrera-Bello has four top-10 finishes this year including each of his last three tournaments. The latter two of those were the Irish Open and the Scottish Open. So, if you’re looking for someone on a hot streak who knows how to play that style of golf, Cabrera Bello is hard to ignore. Additionally, Cabrera-Bello finished T2 at the 2012 Irish Open, which was held at Royal Portrush. Of course, that was seven years ago. Still, this course is something of a mystery to most players in the field. Having a good history there is a definite leg up.

Shane Lowry

Lowry has found a good deal of success in 2019. He has a win, a T2, a T3, and a T8 at the PGA Championship. He clearly knows how to contend. The other end of that equation is that Lowry also has five missed cuts. So, if you back him, you’re backing a guy who’s been inconsistent. As far as longshots go, it’s awfully hard to feel anything but good about a player who’s enjoyed so much success this year, though. When Lowry is on, he can compete anywhere. That includes Royal Portrush.

Lucas Glover

Glover’s 2019 track record is a little risky. He has as many missed cuts (five) as top-10s. Still, five top-10 finishes in one year for a longshot is pretty good. This is especially true since two of those came in his last two starts. So, he’s coming in strong. Finally, when betting on a longshot, it’s nice to know that he can close the deal on golf’s biggest stages. To that end, only two other men on this list to have previously won a major. That definitely works to his advantage.

Bernd Wiesberger

At the conclusion of the British Masters in May, Wiesberger was ranked No. 378 in the world. As we head into Royal Portrush, he’s ranked No. 40. What’s caused that leap is that Wiesberger has won two of his last six events. In that same stretch, he’s finished lower than T16 only once and lower than eighth only twice. If we were to list the hottest golfers in the world entering The Open, it would not take long at all to get to Wiesberger. He’s definitely moving in the right direction.

Jazz Janewattananond

The British Open will be the Janewattananond’s 19th tournament in 2019. In his previous 18 starts, Janewattananond has two wins, two top-threes, and five top-10s. So, more than half of the times he’s teed it up this year, Janewattananond has finished in the top 10. Since the PGA, where he finished T14, he has a win, two T3s, a T5, and nothing worse than a T26. There’s every reason to believe that Janewattananond will break out on a big stage soon. It could well happen at Royal Portrush.

Billy Horschel

If the rest of his 2019 season is any indicator, we can say pretty reliably that Horschel will be around over the weekend. He’s missed only one cut in 2019. While Horschel hasn’t won this year, he’s been a solid factor in a significant number of tournaments. He has two top-10 finishes and six other top-25s. So, Horschel’s 2019 track record tells us that he’s a good bet to not only make the cut, but be high on the leaderboard. As far as picking long shots go, it’s hard to ask for much more than that.

Eddie Pepperell

Pepperell enjoyed the best major finish of his career a year ago at Carnoustie, finishing T6. While we knew who he was before, finishing so well on the big stage really went a long way towards putting him on the map. In the year since, he’s had a win and six other top-10s. That included a T3 at The Players Championship. Pepperell isn’t exactly an all-or-nothing guy, either, having missed only two cuts since last year’s Open. Other than maybe the top-10 players in the world, that’s a rock solid run for just about anyone out there.

Keegan Bradley

Bradley’s been a little hit-or-miss since returning to the winner’s circle at the BMW Championship last year. He does have four missed cuts in that stretch, though Bradley also has eight top-20s. This includes a T2 at the Travelers Championship in June. So, the hits have outnumbered the misses. On top of that, like Glover, Bradley knows how to close the deal in a close major championship. That’s a heck of an advantage to have if he’s in the mix during the back nine on Sunday.

Graeme McDowell

If there’s a home course advantage to be had, McDowell, should have it at the first Open Championship held in his native Northern Ireland in 68 years. This isn’t just about geography, though. Like Glover and Bradley, we know that McDowell can win a major because he’s done it before. More recently, McDowell has a win, two top-10s, two top-20s, and a top-30 in 2019. He may not be one of the world’s best golfers, as he once was. Still, there’s plenty of reason to think that he can get around this course as well as just about anyone else.