The Open Championship is nearly upon us and you'll no doubt be considering having a bet, so here's my timely betting guide to the week ahead.
1. The first price you see is not necessarily the best
With bookmakers falling over themselves for your custom this week, it pays to shop around. Take Rory McIlroy, for example. He's 16/1 in places, yet can be backed at 25/1 with Ladbrokes, (use code MAXIMUMBONUS on sign-up), who incidentally are top or joint top price on the first seven in the market and their 10/1 quote on Tiger Woods is standout. It's become modern bookmaking practice to to oppose market leaders in the days leading up to a major, so further lengthening by all firms is likely.
2. Don't put all your eggs in one basket
There are no prizes for nailing the winner in one and with 150-odd runners it would be madness not to spread your money around and back several golfers. I've backed 10 golfers in a tournament before and made a profit, so there is no limit really. Just keep a record (if only a mental one) and don't go chasing your losses on Sunday if all your previous arrows have missed the target.
3. Keep an eye on the weather
The abysmal start to our summer shows no signs of relenting and the forecast for Thursday suggests the late starters will enjoy the best of the conditions with rain expected to set in mid-morning until early afternoon. However, the Open lasts four days and weather conditions will change from hour to hour, so keep an eye on the in-play prices and step in if you think there's value. I backed Darren Clarke 12 months ago shortly after he'd finished his second round on Friday and then revelled in watching his price drop as those still out on the course were subjected to the worst of the elements.
4. Don't let the commentators put you off
There's no Sky coverage this week, sadly, and that means we'll have to put up with the likes of Peter Alliss. We will lose count of the number of times he thanks the "thousands of volunteers who have made this week possible" (the spread firms are quoting 14-16) or "Old Tom Morris" (22-25), and we shouldn't pay too much heed either should he say he doesn't know much about the guy who has just hit the front. It will probably be one of those unknown Americans like Zach Johnson or Keegan Bradley! Wayne Grady, on the other hand...
5. The worst thing that can happen is the worst thing that can happen
As a seasoned golf punter, I'm conditioned to expect the worst when the player I have backed at a decent price starts out on the back nine on Sunday with a three shot lead. Due to the intense pressure, no lead is big enough in golf, especially this week, so prepare for the worst and seriously consider hitting the Betfair 'lay' button should you be lucky enough to be in the position to trade out to ensure a profit.
6. Take advantage of the generous place terms (and be wary of the not so generous ones)
All the bookmakers, with the notable exception of Coral, have chalked up enhanced place terms of a quarter the odds, the first six places, but Paddy Power are still out on their win with their 'a quarter the first seven places' terms. If they are top or joint top price (or even close to top), giving them your each-way custom is a no-brainer. As the week progresses, the place terms will tend to get ever more measly (a fifth the first three could be the best on offer Sunday), and a win only bet may be the way to go. Stop Press - Stan James have just joined Paddys in offering seven places! (use code MAXIMUMBONUS with Stan James on signup)
7. Don't ignore the speciality markets
Sure, many of these are bookmaker-friendly with sky-high margins (rank bad value), but there is value to be had and Blue Square's even money quote that there will be a hole in one this week is well worth considering. The four par-3s at Royal Lytham are not overly long and there has been ace at each of the last three Open championships here.
8. Back Rickie Fowler
As I said earlier, I will be spreading the net far and wide this week but one golfer I'd recommend you all have an interest in is Rickie Fowler. The American recently made his US Tour breakthrough when beating Rory McIlroy in a playoff at Quail Hollow, and has shown a distinct liking for links golf by finishing 14th at St Andrews on his Open debut and fifth at St George's 12 months ago. Even better, he's a tasty 40/1 with Paddy Power!
There are so many players in with a chance of winning at Royal Lytham & St Annes that it can be tricky to find the best value for your bets. Thankfully, we've collated all of the best promotions and money back specials on The Open Championship to help you to make your decision.
Paddy Power are known for being generous and the Irish bookmaker are offering to pay 1/4 odds on the top seven finishers at The Open Championship. They are also giving all new customers a £50 free bet on the tournament.
Stan James have taken Paddy's lead and are also paying out each-way bets on the first seven places at The Open Championship. They will give new customers a £10 free bet on the tournament and have some of the best prices on the biggest names.
Irish firm Boylesports have a patriotic refund offer on The Open Championship and will refund all losing bets on the tournament if an Irish player is crowned champion. The firm are also giving all new customers who register an account using bonus code MAXIMUMBONUS a £40 free bet on The Open when they wager £20 on any other market.
Bet365 are offering 1/4 odds on the first six finishers at The Open Championship and the firm are also giving all new customers who open an account using bonus code MAXIMUMBONUS a £200 free bet to use at Royal Lytham & St Annes.
Ladbrokes are offering to pay 1/4 odds on the first six finishers at The Open Championship and are also top price on a number of main contenders, including Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald. The firm are also offering all customers a £50 free bet on the 2012 Open when they open a new account using bonus code MAXIMUMBONUS.
SportingBet are not only offering all new customers a £50 risk free bet on The Open Championship. If you open a new account using bonus code MAXIMUMBONUS on the year's third major and if your bet loses then the firm will give you your money back, up to a maximum of £50.
Bet Victor are refunding all losing bets on The Open Championship if any of their 'Lost Boys' - Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia - win the title at Lytham & St Annes. The quartet may never have won a major title but all four are playing well this season and are in with a great chance.
Blue Square are paying out all each-way bets to six places at The Open Championship and are also offering all new customers a £25 free bet on the tournament when they open a new account.
Coral are refunding all losing bets on The Open Championship if a British player wins the title at Royal Lytham & St Annes. Coral are also giving all new customers a £50 free bet on The Open.
Sky Bet are giving all new customers a completely free £10 bet to use on The Open Championship. There is no deposit required and customers simply need to open an account with the firm to be credited with £10 to wager on this week's tournament.