CAN Europe defy the odds yet again this week in Wisconsin? Will the Dad’s Army assembled by Padraig Harrington have too much experience for Steve Stricker’s Boys Brigade?
Yes, it’s the Ryder Cup again, and the USA has picked a team containing six rookies, with an average age of 29, six years younger than Harrington’s team.
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The difference in world rankings is even more startling. The USA field eight of the top ten in the world rankings, and their average rating is 9th.
World No 1 Jon Rahm is the only European in the top ten, and the average ranking is almost 31. So it’s going to be a walkover, right?
No, but you have to fancy the home team to improve on a record that shows just two wins from the last seven shoot-outs, although they are not worth backing at odds of two to one on.
Europe will find a way to be competitive, and it should be closer than most people think. So the exact score markets are worth looking at, along with one or two others.
Here are a couple of bets worth considering…..
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Exact score: USA to win 15-13 at 9-1; USA to win 15 ½ – 12 ½ at 10-1. Assuming it will be pretty close, splitting the stake between these two scorecasts still yields a potential return of almost 5-1.
Top USA scorer: Justin Thomas is a worthy 11-2 favourite in this market, after finishing as America’s top scorer in Paris, and showing his match play grit with an impressive singles victory over Rory McIlroy.
But he is almost certain to be paired with Jordan Spieth again – they were a really dynamic duo in 2018 – and if the chemistry works a second time, you are basically betting on which of them performs better in the singles.
At 7-1 the revitalised Spieth is an attractive proposition. He has yet to win a Ryder Cup singles match in three attempts, but that run has to end soon.
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Top European scorer: Jon Rahm is a clear leader in this market, but you wonder what the hell he was doing playing in California last week, instead of resting up for one of the most gruelling weeks of the year.
The fact that Rahm pulled out of the Pro-Am with a stomach bug, and then missed the cut, hardly inspires confidence in the Spanish star.
Viktor Hovland could well play all five matches despite being a rookie, and at 7-1 he makes far more appeal than the man he may one day replace at the top of the world rankings.
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Top rookie: Hovland has sound claims in this category too, and lumping all the rookies together – rather than just going for leading USA or European newcomer – pushes up the odds.
But the European points are likely to be spread around, and 2 ½-3 may be good enough for top spot. It will probably take a bit more to lead this market, and I like the fiesty Daniel Berger at 7-1.
The Americans think he has the same in your face bravado as Patrick Reed, who was denied a wild card for this one. If Berger really does have Reed’s win-or-die attitude, that is good enough for me.
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