Since it last hosted an Open Championship in 1951, Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland has undergone a makeover, with completely new seventh and eighth holes and a championship village constructed on what used to be the 17th and 18th holes. Starting Thursday, the new-look course will host the 2019 British Open, also known as the Open Championship, and the year’s final major is shaping up to be one for the ages. Jordan Spieth hasn’t won a major since the Open Championship two years ago, but he was the 54-hole leader last year at Carnoustie and has made the cut all six times he’s played the Open. Spieth is 40-1 in the latest 2019 Open Championship odds, while defending champion Francesco Molinari is 25-1. The top three players in the world also happen to be the three favorites: Brooks Koepka (10-1), Dustin Johnson (10-1), and Rory McIlroy (8-1). Before you make your 2019 Open Championship picks and golf predictions, see what SportsLine PGA Tour handicapper Sal Johnson just locked in.

A media legend and consummate golf insider, Johnson is red-hot this year. He featured Woods in his best bets for the Masters, and Woods walked away with his fifth green jacket. Then, Johnson promoted Koepka in his PGA Championship best bets, and Koepka made a mockery of that major, building a seven-shot lead entering the weekend and cruising to victory.

Last month at the Travelers Championship, Johnson promoted 50-1 long shot Chez Reavie as a potential winner, citing Reavie’s momentum following his third place finish at the U.S. Open and noting how his game (second in fairway accuracy, eighth in proximity to hole) suited TPC River Highlands perfectly. The result: Reavie cruised to a four-stroke victory, finishing 17-under for his first PGA title in 11 years. 

And Johnson knows Royal Portrush like the back of his hand, having covered more than a dozen tournaments there over his storied career.

Now, Johnson — the first producer of “Inside the PGA Tour,” a longtime ABC Sports golf producer and the founder of the world’s biggest golf stats database — has issued his highly confident Open Championship picks 2019. He made those picks, which he’s sharing at SportsLine, based on his revealing breakdown of Royal Portrush.

“Seven or eight holes will be perfect for bombers, while the rest of the course will appeal to the shotmaker,” Johnson told SportsLine.

We can tell you Johnson wants no part of Woods even though he’s in the midst of a resurgent season after winning the Masters. In fact, Johnson says Woods doesn’t even crack the top 10 at Royal Portrush. “Tiger complained about the chill in the air at Pebble Beach and said his back wasn’t the best in ‘sweater weather,'” Johnson told SportsLine. “He also missed the cut at Bethpage Black in the cold. Add in possibly wet and windy conditions and it’s not going to be a winning week for Tiger.”

Johnson has a strong read on McIlroy, the winner of the 2014 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool. McIlroy is a Northern Ireland native and has had a sensational season with a staggering 11 top-10 finishes and victories at the Players Championship and RBC Canadian Open. He’s been the course record-holder at Royal Portrush since he was 16, but finished 34th last week at the Scottish Open and has struggled to seal the deal in majors since his 2014 PGA Championship.

Johnson also has locked in the fate of Brooks Koepka, who has four wins and two second-place finishes in his last nine major championship starts. Koepka’s prowess in majors has elevated him to No. 1 in the world and he hasn’t finished worse than second in a major this season. He also has more links experience than your typical American player after cutting his teeth as a professional in Europe. However, he struggled last year at Carnoustie, finishing 39th. He’s also finished 50th or worse in his last three starts on the PGA Tour.

Instead, Johnson is high on an astronomical long shot who thrives on links courses, has a top-five Open Championship finish to his credit, and boasts a strong track record at Royal Portrush. “I strongly feel that he not only will contend but can win,” Johnson said. Anyone who backs this underdog could hit it big.

Who wins the 2019 British Open? Where do Koepka and McIlroy finish? And which massive long shot stuns the golf world? Check out the latest 2019 British Open odds below, then visit SportsLine to see Sal Johnson’s full leaderboard and picks, all from the golf insider who nailed the Masters and PGA Championship this year.

Rory McIlroy 8-1
Dustin Johnson 10-1
Brooks Koepka 10-1
Jon Rahm 16-1
Tiger Woods 18-1
Justin Rose 20-1
Xander Schauffele 20-1
Francesco Molinari 20-1
Rickie Fowler 25-1
Patrick Cantlay 25-1
Tommy Fleetwood 25-1
Justin Thomas 30-1
Adam Scott 30-1
Louis Oosthuizen 30-1
Henrik Stenson 30-1
Matt Kuchar 30-1
Bryson DeChambeau 40-1
Hideki Matsuyama 40-1
Jason Day 40-1
Paul Casey 50-1
Graeme McDowell 50-1
Matt Wallace 50-1
Tony Finau 60-1
Gary Woodland 60-1
Marc Leishman 60-1
Shane Lowry 80-1
Matthew Fitzpatrick 80-1
Rafael Cabrera Bello 80-1
Sergio Garcia 80-1
Patrick Reed 80-1
Phil Mickelson 100-1
Ian Poulter 100-1
Eddie Pepperell 100-1
Tyrrell Hatton 100-1
Webb Simpson 100-1

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