Ryder Cup ~ 2021
The Ryder Cup is an event which draws in far more casual viewers than any regular event, and indeed most Majors. Sky will hype the absolute last out of it, and portray it as the be all and end all. To me it is nowhere near as important as a Major, and the fact it was shelved for a year due to no crowds being allowed 12 months ago, shows that without the fans it is a pretty stale event. I also wonder just how much some players really care about it. You certainly couldn’t say that about any of the 4 real big ones.
Anyhow, enough of my ramblings about my lack of love for this massively overhyped event!!
The 2021 edition comes to us from Whistling Straits which has played host to 3 US PGA Championships in the last 18 years. Vijay Singh was successful in 2004, Martin Kaymer defeated Bubba Watson in an event Dustin Johnson should have won in 2010, and Jason Day powered his way to victory here in 2015. Length matters here at the 7400 yard Par 70.
The event begins on Friday 24th, and the opening two days will see 16 matches, comprising 8 fourball games and 8 foursomes. Sunday will see 12 singles matches, some of which may be dead rubber by the time they reach the turn.
Are the USA the certainties that the betting suggests? Or can Europe record their 8th victory in the last 10 matches?
For much of the last year, I would have sided with the former. You don’t have to be a genius to figure out that the Americans have the superior team, and obviously they also have home advantage. Odds Compilers know this though, and quotes of 8/15 have surely factored this in. So is there something the market may be missing?
A very simple way of looking at it, is if Europe have won 7 of the last 9 matches nearly always with an ‘inferior’ side, why are they such big outsiders here again. In Hazeltine in 2016, the Yanks got it right. And they needed to, as Europe had really begun to dominate the event, and it was in danger of losing its competitiveness. The course set up that year really played to the strength of the home team, with the rough being basically non-existent, and their power players being able to swing away off the tee. Whistling Straits will reward length for sure, but the weather forecast may sit better with the Europeans if the predicted 25mph winds and rain arrive.
I feel Padraig Harrington will have the edge over Steve Stricker in the captaincy stakes, and also that he probably has an easier job. The Americans have a seriously good squad, one where each player will have legitimate claims to getting plenty of game time. Could the lesser strength in depth of the Euros actually play into the hands of Harrington? It could make for an easier job. I can see it going like this. “Jon, your world number One, you’re playing 5 games. Rory, you’re in for the full package too. Viktor, you’re going to be busy. Shane go and win the first match with Rory, and it’s your gig. Lee you’re tipping on a bit, two games for you before singles son. Bernd you’ll get a match before Sunday. Tommy, do what you did with Moli and you’re going to kept on”. I just think the likes of Westwood and Wiesberger will be easier to bench than say Berger etc. The Americans’ game time will be more spread out, whilst the Euros will be going with the strongest 8 more often than not. That closes the gap somewhat. Pod is also one of the cleverest guys out there. He will leave no stone unturned in the quest to make his captaincy a successful one.
How much do the USA really care about it? Yes of course some do, but I really don’t think Brooks Koepka gives two hoots about it. Bryson is busy practising for a Long Drive competition, and says his hands are in bits due to it. Is the Ryder Cup taking precedence there? I don’t think so.
Are the Yanks a real team? Not for me. They are consistently less than the sum of their parts, while the opposite can be said about Europe. The underdogs have had some landslide wins of late, and they clearly get themselves up for it more than the oppositions. Ian Poulter lives for this shit, and Sergio Garcia isn’t far behind him in the passion stakes. Rory seems to have come around to it being important, and now wears his heart on his sleeve. All these golfers are serious talents, and will to win will once again be a massive factor. Advantage Europe here.
In my opinion this will go one of two ways. USA will show their true colours, play to their best and outclass Europe for a cosy win. Or Stricker finds it hard to keep the harmony in the dressing room, they don’t really give it their all, and Europe worries them out if it.
At the current prices, I am prepared to have a bet on Europe. I feel the wind forecast will be a big help, and their 12 players will be more prepared to win ugly. Harrington does it more for me as a captain. Brooks and Bryson bring a whole load of potential problems to the table, and Morikawa may not be fully fit. Europe has the habit of winning, and haven’t been afraid to beat ‘superior’ teams on their home patch before. They have the world number one, who is consistently playing the best golf of anyone showing up here. It’s not fairytale to think he banks 5 points himself. Rory and Shane look to be a very easy pairing, who I feel will be tough to beat whoever they play. They are a squad complete at one, no egos in the way, no spats between players, just a unified will to win this match. The favourites have lost 5 of the last 10 matches, so playing the underdog has been the way to go. At 9/4 I’m in.
More this year than in most others, but so many of them are far from rookie status in real golfing terms. And it’s a Major and WGC winner to whom I am nailing my colours to. Step forward SHANE LOWRY. More so than any other week, a lot of my summising will be based on hunch. Who will play with who, who plays more games than others, and who will rise to the occasion. Well, I am fairly confident that Shane will step out with Rory McIlroy on Friday morning. After their Olympic pairing both players alluded to how they would be more than happy to continue that partnership into the Ryder Cup. I am sure there are plenty of players with their hands up to play with Rory, and he himself has mentioned Viktor Hovland as an ideal partner, but it is very hard to break up a successful pairing and if they are successful first up they will keep rolling together.
Watching Shane’s interview after his place was confirmed, my belief that he will excel in this event was heightened. He was absolutely buzzing. Sometimes that can have an adverse effect on players’ performances, but I don’t see that happening here. Shane simply loves the big time. Winning his home Open as an amatuer, taking down some of the games biggest names in a stateside WGC, and then winning the Open Championship on his home Isle. He is no ordinary rookie!!
Apart from Jon Rahm, Rory is our best player. If as I expect Shane lines up beside him, that has to be an advantage to his chances. I expect Shane to play at least 4 games, and if he gets off to a flyer, that could be 5.
With the lack of strength in depth to the Euro team, and the age of some of their players, there will be more reliance on certain players. I expect Shane to be one of these, but so too will Viktor Hovland. Viktor though is more traditional ‘rookie’ status than Lowry. An absolutely serious talent, but young, and still inexperienced enough that the occasion is more likely to get to him than his Irish counterpart. He is also more likely to be paired with an experienced member of the team like Sergio, Westwood or indeed Poulter. That will likely mean more mixing and matching than staying with the one man. And no matter what way you look at it, you are more likely to win your match playing with Rory, than with any of the above 3.
Bernd Wiesberger won’t play much.
The USA will share their matches out more, and apart from Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele (who are likely to be paired together), I don’t see any other of their debutants playing 4 matches. Some may not even play 3. That is obviously a likely advantage for our selection. You can’t win points if you’re not playing. When it comes down to the singles, rightly or wrongly, I would prefer Shane for getting the job done than Cantlay. Home crowd can obviously be an advantage, but it can bring unwanted pressures. Sunday could see that becoming a problem for some. Again, I feel Shane will revel in it. On a linksy style layout, with the wind getting up to a level which requires management, and rain to resemble a soft day at home, there is plenty to recommend the Irishman here. Anything from 7/1 upwards here is a very good bet in my opinion.
Top European Rookie:
I have pretty much gone through this above, and once again it’s SHANE LOWRY that is my bet. It takes out the worry about Cantlay and Xander, and leaves only Hovland and Wiesberger to beat. I would have this as a coin flip between Shane and Viktor, and the 7/4 still on offer on Lowry is much too big for me.
The reasons as listed above, he will likely have a better partner than Viktor, he has more experience under his belt, he has proved without doubt he can handle the biggest of stages, and the forecast wind won’t bother him a jot. Win or lose, this is definitely a good value play.
Top American Rookie:
I was tempted to play XANDER SCHAUFFELE in the Top American Scorer category, but have settled on including him here. You could say that at a bigger price than Cantlay in that other category, he is more value there than here at the same price as his probable partner, but I do like the fact that here he should enjoy a game time advantage over all but one of his rivals. The Olympic Gold Medallist played all 5 matches in the most recent Presidents Cup, and won his singles match there. I would expect him to play at least 4 here. Playing with Cantlay certainly couldn’t be construed as a negative. Though if one of them was dropped for a fourballs match, I would say it more likely that it would be Cantlay sitting it out. I would also just slightly favour Xander when it comes to the singles, so all told he has to be the bet here.
Berger, English and Scheffler will probably be the least likely to play most matches as things stand, and that is a considerable obstacle. Collin Morikawa will probably be spared a bit too, as it’s open to question whether he is 100% fit.
I can see this boiling down to whoever performs better between Xander and Cantlay on Sunday. I’ll take the former.
Top Combined Points Scorer:
Though USA are obviously deserving favourites to lift the trophy, I feel JON RAHM is equally deserving of that mantle in this market. Throughout the past 6 months he has been consistently at the top of his game. That peak is currently better than anyone else’s, and he is more likely than the rest to produce it here. As said earlier, Pod is likely to have a few players that he relies heavily on. Rahm is chief among them. An extremely passionate sort, he will be as up for this as anyone,and if Europe is going to get it done, they will need their main man to bring home the bacon. Unless he plays terribly, he will play 5 games. And it is unlikely he will be second favourite for any of them.
The USA will spread the games out a bit more. Maybe JT, Xander, Cantly might get 5 shots at it. But maybe not. Again a game advantage is a big advantage in such a limited event. Rahm took care of none other than Tiger Woods in his only singles match at the Ryder Cup to date, and he will be a formidable rival for whoever is pitched against him Sunday. It’s quite possible he will be out first on the final day, which will certainly mean the match counts.
It will be very tough to win this section without playing all the matches, and in truth there are probably only a few realistic contenders. Given Rahm is the best of the them, and will play 5, the 8/1 will do for me.
To be honest, not a lot that floats my boat. I think the USA will struggle if they aren’t quick from the traps, and I would certainly see the 10/11 to lead after Day One as a better bet than the 8/15 outright. If Evens appeared, which it might do when Betfair price it up, I wouldn’t put anyone off. Indeed Europe hasn’t led after the opening session since 2006.
I have just come across a market on William Hill, akin to a half time full time bet on soccer. The Day One-Day Two-Result permutation I like is, USA-USA-Europe. At 20/1 I feel that has a sporting chance. It’s 15 years since Europe led early, and I do think if the USA are to play well that the best of it will be seen early. True they could hit their stride and keep going, but equally if Europe can keep that lead to a narrow number, the pressure the Yanks will feel on Sunday will be high. Akin to what happened in Medinah, Europe can freewheel the Singles. I will have a bet here, but in not being sure if anyone else will price such a market, or how much a firm will accept on a market of its type, I won’t put it up as an official bet.
I will send out some match bets prior to Friday’s tee off if there is anything of interest, and will do so again ahead of Saturday if time allows.
Rest of 2021 Schedule:
This is the 30th event I have previewed this year, leaving 5 to fill the promised quota of 35. They are as follows.
30th September – Sanderson Farms
7th October – Shriners Children’s Open
21st October – Zozo Championship
28th October – WGC HSBC Champions
18th November – RSM Classic
6pts Europe 9/4 (Skybet) *I usually wouldn’t quote them on a stand alone price, but liquidity on Betfair will be massive on this. They are currently 3.35 there, and I don’t see them getting shorter. The market is pretty much set now. Typically the favourite is the one to shorten before the off, so getting what you want on won’t be an issue.
Top Combined Rookie:
4pts ew Shane Lowry 8/1 (⅕ odds 3 places, 365) *Still 15/2 with Skybet, Unibet, Betway. 7/1 with 365. Liquidity will also build on Betfair for anyone wanting to play win only.
Top European Rookie:
4pts Shane Lowry 17/10 (PP/BFSB/WH) *Currently 7/4 with Skybet, Unibet, Betway & Sporting Index Top American Rookie:
5pts Xander Schauffele 3/1 (General) *No Betfair market on this yet, but seeing as the 3/1 is very readily available, and unlikely to shorten, I will personally wait to see if there is an exchange market. We may get slightly bigger there.
Top Combined Points Scorer:
3pts Jon Rahm 8/1 (365/Betfred/888/Boyles/Betway)
Any bets for Friday’s opening round of matches will be sent either Thursday night, or early Friday morning. In truth it is unlikely I will get involved then, as we will hopefully have all our player points bets in action then.