Ryder Cup 2016 – 12:30pm at Hazeltine, live on Sky Sports 4
Last weeks golf
A winner! Alex Levy struck gold for this column with a dramatic European Open play off victory against Ross Fisher, after our Frenchman let slip a three shot advantage with just three holes to play. A scrambled clutch putt bogey on the 72nd hole from Levy meant the two went back to the 18th tee for the play off, and our man got the job done on the second eliminator hole, courtesy of a long range birdie putt. Tipped at 41.0 on this column and backed at 50.0 myself, it was a pleasing week that now gives every chance of securing a profit for the year.
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Ryder Cup history & field
The Ryder Cup dates back to 1927 and was originally a contest between USA and Great Britain. This was changed to its current format in 1979 to include the best of Europe taking on USA. Since then the Europeans have won ten Ryder Cups, the US have managed seven wins with one edition ending in a tie.
The Europeans are currently on a roll, having been crowned Ryder Cup winners of the last three editions, including the memorable Miracle at Medinah victory in 2012. During this 39th staging of the Ryder Cup, Europe found themselves 10-4 down, only to win 10.5 points of the remaining 14 on offer to complete the most remarkable of Ryder Cup results. Last time out Paul McGinley led Europe to a comfortable 16.5 / 11.5 win against the Americans, meaning the European side had won eight of the last ten stagings of the Ryder Cup.
This year Europe are led by the charismatic Irishman Darren Clarke, whilst the home side are skippered by Davis Love III.
Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Jimmy Walker, Brooks Koepka, Brandt Snedeker, Zach Johnson, JB Holmes, Matt Kuchar, Rickie Fowler, Ryan Moore.
Rory McIlroy, Danny Willett, Henrik Stenson, Chris Wood, Sergio Garcia, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Justin Rose, Andy Sullivan, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Lee Westwood, Thomas Pieters, Martin Kaymer
Days one and two see a total of 16 points on offer, with four foursomes and four fourball matches played on each of the opening two days. The third and final day sees all 12 players from each team play singles matches against an opponent from the opposing team. With a total of 28 points on offer, the winner is the team that gets to the magic figure of 14.5 points first.
Hazeltine National measures at a lengthy 7,628 yards and has a par of 72. There are four par 3’s and four par 5’s with the remaining ten holes being par 4’s – the longest being the 518 yard 12th hole, the shortest being the 5th hole, which measures just 352 yards. The par 5’s are all long, with three of four being over 606 yards, meaning only the very longest of hitters or foursomes partners will be able to get close to reaching in two shots. The 13th par 3 is also stupidly long, coming in a tad under 250 yards.
It is seen as a pretty tough test, with narrow fairways and smaller than average greens. The layout is hilly and undulating fairways will make approach shots challenging.
Both sides contain plenty of power off the tee, but my feeling is those with solid long iron games will go well here.
Hazeltine has hosted the US Open and USPGA major championships in the past.
As Fall approaches in the States, we can expect chilly mornings and pleasant afternoons, with temperatures peaking around the 23c mark on Friday afternoon. The three days will see very little in the way of wind and sub 5% chances of showers. Perfect conditions, you’d have to say.
Recent Ryder Cup results
2014 – Gleneagles – Europe 16.5 v 11.5 USA – Winner EUROPE
2012 – Medinah – USA 13.5 v 14.5 Europe – Winner EUROPE
2010 – Celtic Manor – Europe 14.5 v 13.5 USA – Winner EUROPE
2008 – Valhalla – USA 16.5 v 11.5 Europe – Winner USA
2006 – K Club – Europe 18.5 v 9.5 USA – Winner EUROPE
2004 – Oakland Hills – USA 9.5 v 18.5 Europe – Winner EUROPE
2002 – Belfry – Europe 15.5 v 12.5 USA – Winner EUROPE
USA are favourites despite their poor recent record in the Ryder Cup. They can be backed around the 1.62 mark and although I believe they should start as slim favourites, they are untouchable at this price. Europe look the better bet at 3.0 to me, this despite the number of rookies in their squad. Hardened Ryder Cup performers such as McIlroy, Rose, Garcia, Westwood, Stenson and Kaymer have nothing but happy memories of the Ryder Cup and will all prove tough cookies for the home side to crack.
Personally I am going to leave this market alone and look at how we are situated after day one, with a view to backing the American side prior to the singles matches, where I see the hosts being stronger than the visitors.
Correct score market
The last ten Ryder Cups have seen a .5 in the scoreline, so it makes sense to look at scores containing an odd number of halved matches. I think this will be a reasonably close affair with one side finishing with a flourish, so will be backing both the USA and Europe to win 15.5 to 12.5 at attractive odds.
Top point scorer market
Naturally we need any selection here to ideally play the maximum allowance of five matches to stand a realistic chance of winning. You can get away with a selection maybe playing four matches though, as Patrick Reed proved in 2014 by becoming USA top points grabber, despite missing one fourballs match.
Given the USA have left out their biggest hitter in Bubba Watson, I have a feeling that bomber Brooks Koepka could play a big part in Davis Love III’s plans. The course should suit and as a rookie, he can emulate Reed’s efforts two years ago and top score for USA.
As for Europe it is hard to see past Fed-Ex champion Rory McIlroy not being Europe’s top point scorer. Odds of 4.33 hardly appeal to let us take a punt on another rookie to top score for Europe, who I believe will play at least four matches for captain Clarke. Danny Willett has had a terrific year and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him continue his Italian Open form into this week and challenge Rory for top dog.
Prices correct at time of writing.