The United States are favourites to retain the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National next weekend, but BetBright has a wide range of markets to bet on for the golfing extravaganza. Rory Jiwani marks your card.
The Ryder Cup is almost upon us. France hosts the biennial competition for the first time with the best players in Europe and the United States descending upon Le Golf National just outside of Paris.
The United States won comfortably at Hazeltine two years ago as Davis Love III banished the memory of Medinah to history by captaining the winning side against Darren Clarke’s Europeans. Jim Furyk, another Ryder Cup star of years past, is at the helm this time against Dane Thomas Bjorn.
While the bookies have the Americans as favourites, they have not won on foreign soil since The Belfry in 1993. Phil Mickelson, playing in his 12th Ryder Cup, is desperate for his first away win after being picked as one of Love’s four wildcards. Tiger Woods is another. More on him later…
The Albatros course at Le Golf National is the home of the French Open and not a track where the driver is likely to come out too often despite it being lengthened during extensive renovations in 2014 and 2015. This should favour Europe with the Americans more noted for distance off the tee than accuracy.
There are water hazards on no fewer than 10 of the holes, but it is the closing stretch of four holes which holds most fears. ‘The Loop of Doom’, as it is known by the locals, consists of three par-fours and the par-three 16th and this brutal finish should make for plenty of drama.
The Europeans, of course, have far more experience of the course having played multiple French Opens. Alex Noren and Tommy Fleetwood, both making their Ryder Cup debuts, have won the last two renewals. But American rookie Justin Thomas finished in the top 10 on his first trip there this summer and there is no great reason why the visitors should struggle.
On paper, this is one of the United States’ strongest ever line-ups. There are no fewer than nine major winners in the side with Mickelson the lowest-ranked player at 25. Love’s final two wildcards were the talented Bryson DeChambeau and ultra-consistent Tony Finau.
But this could be one of the Europe’s best teams too with four players inside the world’s top 10 including Justin Rose who held the number one ranking for two weeks until Dustin Johnson reclaimed it on Monday. Wildcard Ian Poulter adds experience and boasts a remarkable Ryder Cup record of 12 wins, four defeats and two halves in five competitions.
The three days are sure to be fiercely contested with BetBright making USA 4-5 jollies, Europe 5-4, and the tie a 12-1 shot. Of course, you will be able to bet in-play as soon as the action gets underway on Friday.
There are a plethora of markets to get stuck into including correct score overall where a 15-13 USA victory is the 8-1 favourite. As far as previous form goes, Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed have been an excellent partnership at the last two Ryder Cups, while Rose and Henrik Stenson were magnificent in 2014.
USA hope to draw inspiration from Woods resurgence
With the notable exception of 2012, Europe have tended to be stronger in the team matches with USA turning it on in the singles. That trend definitely applies to Woods who, while his team record leaves something to be desired, has never been beaten in singles.
Of course, there has been something of a reaction to Woods’ first win in five years at the TOUR Championship last weekend. The 14-time major winner is 13-2 from 9-1 to be top American scorer but it is worth noting that, even at his peak, he has consistently failed to fire at the Ryder Cup. His record of 13 wins, 17 defeats and three halves – that’s 14 ½ points out of a possible 33 – is pretty mediocre for one of the greatest players ever to pick up a golf club.
Two-time defending US Open champion Brooks Koepka once played on the Challenge Tour, the second-tier European Tour, so has plenty of experience of the conditions. He heads the Top American market at 5-1 with Dustin Johnson who looks like he will have the support of fiancee Paulina Gretzky in France despite rumours that they had split earlier this month.
Woods aside, there is a question mark over form for some of the Americans. Out of the 30-man TOUR Championship field, there were four USA Ryder Cup members in the bottom five. Jordan Spieth has had a poor year, by his standards, and did not even make the cut for Atlanta. By contrast, Francesco Molinari was the lowest-placed of six Europeans in a tie for 21st.
Like Ian Poulter for Team Europe, Reed is a man who saves his best for this competition. Of course, this year he won his first major at the Masters. Before that, his career highlight was almost certainly his triumph over Rory McIlroy in a wonderful singles clash at Hazeltine. We would all love to see a rematch in France and Reed is 8-1 to be top American.
Europeans look to old heads to regain the trophy
While there are five rookies in the Europe team, there is bags of experience in there as well. Sergio Garcia has played in eight previous competitions, Ian Poulter five, and Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson all four apiece.
Garcia has largely struggled for form since his Masters win last year, but Poulter has had his best season for a good while including victory at the Houston Open. The Englishman’s last title, the WGC-HSBC Champions in China – came in November 2012, just a month after he sparked the Miracle of Medinah.
Tommy Fleetwood may be a rookie but last year’s Race To Dubai winner shows all the signs of being able to handle the occasion. The same may not apply to big-hitting Jon Rahm whose temper has been known to get the better of him. However, if the Spaniard is on his game he could be a real threat in fourballs paired with a steady player like Francesco Molinari.
Unsurprisingly, Rose and McIlroy head the betting for top European with the pair 5-1 joint-favourites. Poulter could represent some value at 10-1, as could Henrik Stenson at the same price.
One man who might outrun his odds is Alex Noren. This year’s French Open champion finished in the top 10 twice in the two previous years so he clearly loves the track. The main question mark would be how many outings he will get in a star-studded line-up, but outsiders can win this as Thomas Pieters showed two years ago. Noren is 16-1 to be top European and 2-1 in the Top Scandinavian market.
Of course, much depends on this week’s practice sessions and the thoughts of the respective captains. Thomas Bjorn has decided that both Friday and Saturday will begin with fourballs with the foursomes taking place on both afternooons. We all await with great anticipation the announcements of the pairings for Friday morning’s fourballs at Thursday’s Opening Ceremony.
One other market which may be worth getting involved in is that of Top Debutant. Justin Thomas is a worthy favourite at 3-1 but this looks a really interesting betting heat. Tommy Fleetwood and Jon Rahm are both 9-2 shots with Alex Noren a potentially lively outsider at 8-1.
Odds are provided at time of writing, please check your betslip to confirm they have not changed before betting.