The Ryder Cup is here, one year later than expected, but that has not reduced the excitement as the best players from Europe and USA go head-to-head at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.
The links style course on the coast of Lake Michigan has hosted three PGA Championships but this is the first time for golf’s most famous event. The event was postponed due to the pandemic to ensure fans are at the course, and based on the practice rounds, we should expect a fantastic crowd. It may not be the prettiest course — links courses rarely are — but the Pete Dye course is one that gives everything you could want in a match like this. There are plenty of chances to take some risks but there are big penalties if you get it wrong. It is full of dunes and with over 1,000 bunkers, it is not a course to play from anywhere but the fairway.
— Ryder Cup Europe (@RyderCupEurope) September 22, 2021
Europe have had an impeccable record of late. They have won seven of the nine contests this century and really have been dominant over their US opponents. Europe’s average age is over five years higher, and vastly more experienced. Five of the Europeans will be making their fifth or more appearance while just Dustin Johnson can boast that level of experience. They have 38 combined appearances compared to 12 for the USA. Just three rookies — one of which is a major champion — and double that for the Americans. But what may be the most important stat is that Steve Stricker has assembled the strongest team the Ryder Cup has ever seen. With an average rank of 8.9, 34.6 for Europe, this is the first time an average team ranking has been in single digits and it perhaps shows just how strong this team is, despite the world number one playing on the opposing side. It is hard to back against USA here, particularly on home soil, but it comes down to a battle of the better team against the experienced team.
There are so many different markets available for this event, but the key markets are of course the winner, but also top points scorers. Working out who is going to be top scorer can be tough, as we do not know who will be playing in each session. The top points scorer in seven of the past nine events has played all five games, so if you can work that out you are off to a head start.
On the American side the most likely looks to be Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas. The childhood friends teamed up with fantastic results in Paris and all signs point to them leading USA out on Friday morning and playing every game together. They sit at 9/1 and 10/1 to be the leading players and that reflects how well they are respected in this team.
To try and find a little value you may need to look towards FedEx Cup champion Patrick Cantlay and again his good friend Xander Schauffele. All reports coming out suggest the two will be paired. With nobody in better form than Cantlay, and Olympic champion Schauffele being far from a weak link, it would be no surprise to see this pairing roll through the European side.
— Xander Schauffele (@XSchauffele) September 22, 2021
On the blue side, it is a little harder to project the pairings. Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy look most likely to play all five, but working out who they will be paired with could be harder. McIlroy has had numerous partners over the years, but Shane Lowry is a man that could match up well with Rory’s game and the two Irishman could form a great partnership. Lowry was a captain’s pick and is a good friend of Padraig Harrington’s away from the course, so it would be no surprise to see him get a prominent role. If he and McIlroy can click quickly, it may be hard to keep them off the course. At 25/1, Lowry could prove to be excellent value.
Rahm and Sergio Garcia feels like an obvious pairing, but it seems unlikely that Garcia would be asked to play all five sessions at this stage of his career. So backing Rahm, who is favourite at 7/1, could work out, but picking a partner for him is not easy. It may be worth waiting to see who he is paired with for round one and backing that player if the value is right.