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Golfbet Roundtable: Five Pressing Questions Ahead of the Ryder Cup

We’re officially only one day away from the start of the Ryder Cup – which is probably a good thing since we are collectively running out of methods and means by which to analyze the competition.

But before pairings for the opening session are announced, before the first tee is filled to the brim with full-throated fans, we’ve asked staffers from every corner of Golfbet to weigh in on some of the biggest storylines before the matches get going at Marco Simone Golf Club.

The betting lines continue to shorten on who will leave Rome with the Ryder Cup. Do you buy into the growing optimism around Europe defending its home turf, or do you think this creates some value on the deeper American team that is now suddenly available at plus-money?

Will Gray (Editorial Lead): It’s pretty wild to wake up on the eve of the Ryder Cup and see the Americans listed as underdogs. It feels like not that long ago their line was approaching -200! While I do understand (and agree with) the recent European optimism, I think we may be swinging too far in the other direction. The U.S. Team is stronger, deeper and boasts more versatility (and less scar tissue) than recent American squads. They still need everything to go right to win on the road, but it’s hard for me to view them as significant underdogs heading into the opening session.

Chris Breece (Senior Content Manager): Even if the stars play up to expectation, the U.S. needs multiple players to show up as pleasant surprises to win on the road. Who are those players? Yes, their odds do technically have more value now, but you still have to find those surprise players. I don’t see it. You cannot assume that most of the European Team is going to have an off week. They will bring their best every session, or close to it. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me six times shame on me – right?

Ben Everill (Senior Writer): If you must bet the outright market – which for me is the worst one to get involved in – you have to lean toward the home team. History doesn’t lie. Unlike at Whistling Straits two years ago, the depth of the U.S. Team is set to be severely tested this time around. For me, the key might just come down to the major winners from this season. Brooks Koepka, Wyndham Clark and Brian Harman need to win more than they lose if the 30-year drought is to be broken.

Matthew DelVecchio (Social Content Manager): I wasn’t even alive the last time the Americans won on European soil, but I will witness it for the first time in my life this weekend in Italy. There is now tremendous value at plus-money, backing a U.S. Team that is coming off a dominant performance two years ago in Wisconsin. This squad includes three of the four top point-scorers from Whistling Straits (Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele and Collin Morikawa) who collectively scored as many points as Team Europe. Now add in the return of Rickie Fowler and the debut of a potential Ryder Cup standout, Max Homa. If you’ve ever sat at the roulette table, you know that just because the wheel came up black six times in a row doesn’t actually change the odds for the seventh spin.

Rob Bolton (Golfbet Insider): Both. Frankly, that optimism needed to grow for Europe is comical. That reveals who hasn’t been paying attention. So, welcome, new golf fans! Home games matter and this one has been the difference for the hosts for way too long to ignore. Meanwhile, the consideration of betting value for the Americans can co-exist. In a sense, this has evolved into a pick ‘em with lines on both sides geared toward generating business.

There’s no shortage of prop markets available this week. Which one has your attention as you look for a ticket beyond which team will lift the trophy?

Gray: Seeing Brian Harman’s O/U set at 0.5 points was a stunner for me – no love for the Champion Golfer of the Year! It’s a bit juicy at -175 but I think this course sets up well for his style of play and I expect him to clear that number with ease. For something with a bit more ROI potential, I’d look to Sepp Straka as Top European Rookie – I’m not convinced Robert MacIntyre or Nicolai Hojgaard play much this week. So you’re getting a good price on essentially a two-man race between Straka and Ludvig Aberg, the other deserved favorite given his expected partnership with Viktor Hovland.

Breece: My best bet is Biggest Winning Margin. I like it at 5 and 4. It’s been the biggest margin in five of the last 10 Ryder Cups. I would say the most fun bet is Event Opening Tee Shot. While almost every other bet will take hours or days to develop, this one is over in five seconds. Then there’s the logistics. Are you betting the U.S. side, the European side? Both? Are you staying up until 1:30 a.m. ET to see it? Are you not going to bed? So many options.

Everill: Chris is right about the opening tee shot … hitting the fairway is the favored outcome, but you’ve got to think nerves might play a part! But for me … I can’t go past the U.S. Top Points Scorer prop. You can get either Xander Schauffele or Patrick Cantlay at +600 and we know they are a proven commodity as a team. I can see value in betting both and having a 3-to-1 crack at it.

DelVecchio: Max Homa stands out at +130 for Top U.S. Rookie, a market where he’s competing against Wyndham Clark, Sam Burns and Brian Harman. Early predictions suggest Homa could be paired with Collin Morikawa, who notched three points as a rookie at Whistling Straits. The only fear for me in this market is Sam Burns, who looks to be paired with Scottie Scheffler. Anytime you’re paired with the best player in the world, there’s a good chance things go well. If Burns doesn’t show his best stuff in Foursomes, he could get pulled as Scheffler’s partner in Four-ball which would lean into Homa’s favor here.

Bolton: No matter how confident I could be in any prop, I’ve been around too long to think that it matters in advance of this competition. It’s why I’ve retreated into the smallest winning margin for the team that hasn’t lost on home soil since my last year in college. Give me Europe by 1-3 points. The – wait for it – vagaries (of match play) must be respected.

Luke Donald has gotten some attention by switching the formats on Friday, trotting out Foursomes first after 30 years of Ryder Cups in Europe starting with Four-ball. The Americans remain slight favorites to lead after Day 1. Do you expect the switch to pay dividends for Team Europe?

Gray: It’s certainly a risk, but not one without logic. Donald has a quartet of pairings that he feels good about in the more difficult format, and this move allows him to ease some of the less experienced players into the competition. It’s also harder for the Americans to find their footing in Foursomes, particularly with most players coming in off a lengthy layoff. If the Euros find themselves in an early hole, Donald has opened himself up to some pretty valid second-guessing. Ultimately, though, I still expect the Europeans to hold serve – at least for the opening session.

Breece: This is like a football team saying they’re going to start throwing the ball and abandon the run just because they’re sick of dominating the run game. I see no benefit for Europe in changing the format. As Will has highlighted all week, you’re putting immense pressure on your Foursomes teams to produce. Europe has been spoiled getting 3.5 and 4 points out of their Friday Foursomes at the last two home Ryder Cups. What if they only get 2 or 2.5? Is that considered a U.S. moral victory? If so, this will backfire for Europe.

Everill: I hate this move … unless it proves to be correct. No, in all seriousness, I can’t help but notice the last time they went with this format first at home, they lost. Not since 1993 have they not left their strength to the afternoon. Here’s my take on it. Even if they dominate it and win 4-0, but are then beaten in Four-ball 3-1, sure they lead the day at 5-3, BUT the momentum is with the U.S. side. We saw this play out last week at the Solheim Cup. The morning session is emotionally forgotten after the afternoon session.

DelVecchio: It’s an aggressive move that tells me Donald wants to get points early on the Americans. Playing from behind is never a good feeling in any sport, but in an event where the home-field advantage reigns supreme, an early lead may be the motivation needed to power this European Team toward victory. The risk of course is losing the morning session and entering the afternoon in Four-ball where Americans tend to thrive. Every player is fresh and motivated on Friday morning and for that reason, I do not think this strategy works. If Europe drops the morning Foursomes along with the afternoon Four-ball, this move by Donald may go down as one of the worst strategies of recent Ryder Cup memory.

Bolton: If you wanted a reason to hang a victory or loss on the captain, this is for you! I love that, and I love this decision. The only Ryder Cup contested this week is this week’s. Trending is helpful, but history is irrelevant, at least that’s how I’d phrase it to my charges if I were the captain. Opening with a strength puts pressure on the visitors who still may not be completely acclimated. It’s a way to step on their throats when the score is 0-0. Meanwhile, despite trends and history, the Americans are not guaranteed to dominate in Four-ball, anyway. Professional athletes clear the mechanism and focus on what’s directly in front of them. So, the X-factor as it concerns this is experience. Expect Europe to lean heavily on it in both sessions on Friday.

Give us one player who will exceed expectations – and one who could bring home fewer points than anticipated.

Gray: I’m bullish on Justin Thomas this week. Yes, he’s high variance, but I think the format will bring the best out of him as he looks to rekindle his form from 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National. I expect him to play four matches and clear his O/U 1.5-point total in the process. On the other side, I’m not sold on Scottie Scheffler meeting the lofty expectations his world ranking creates. The putter remains a huge question mark, despite his recent work with Phil Kenyon, and the Foursomes format will mitigate some of his ball-striking advantage. I think he nets two or fewer points from the week.

Breece: I’ll stick to the European side here since I’ve been a self-proclaimed buzzkill for the U.S. I’m calling Sepp Straka as the man who exceeds expectations. I think Captain Donald plays him in Four-ball only and he’ll make a ton of birdies. Who cares if he has four bad holes in that format? I think Matt Fitzpatrick will bring home fewer points than anticipated. I say it mainly because his expectations are higher now after winning a major in 2022 and winning again on the PGA TOUR five months ago. As one of only two players on the team to win a major in the last four years, I see him as a less-than-average contributor. His 0-5 record across Hazeltine and Whistling Straits doesn’t help that thought process.

Everill: I agree with Chris on Straka 100% but for the sake of variety I also think Brian Harman will go better than the wider community believes. The Open Championship winner is one of the more accurate U.S. players and with the setup making it optimal to be on target, I see it playing to his strengths. And an underperformed … well … it could be Scottie Scheffler. You need to make putts in match play.

DelVecchio: I agree with Ben on this one. Brian Harman will exceed expectations, simply because expectations for him couldn’t be any lower. He comes in dead last (by a wide margin) to be the U.S. Top Points Scorer at +2500 (next closest are Wyndham Clark and Sam Burns at +1600). With that, there is an opportunity here where the journeyman can make a splash (I’m sorry Brian, you’ve said you don’t like that word but I’m going to use it anyway). As for a slider, Shane Lowry to me seems like the biggest risk. He has shown he can be dominant in this format, not only in his play but also in his enthusiasm. But his game is just not there right now.

Bolton: What a question. There are scandals in politics that are less polarizing because nothing feeds passion and stirs emotion in golf fans like the Ryder Cup. It’s wild and it’s unpredictable. If you haven’t already, scroll through some of the responses to my Power Rankings. The entertaining reactions serve as proof, and my own timeline features other playful comments including a motion (and a second) to have me jailed. All in good fun. This is to say that your expectations will be different than my expectations. Quite obviously. So, I’ll stick with my story and direct you to the Power Rankings. Just don’t forget to enjoy the Ryder Cup.

The player who earns the Cup-clinching point Sunday is? …

Gray: This is a bit of a soft science, as it likely will be someone who lands in the 7-10 range on the Singles lineup. Europe will lead with strength, and the U.S. may have to match depending on what the scoreboard looks like after two days. But I’m going to go with Shane Lowry – a veteran who has the mettle to handle the moment and someone Donald will feel comfortable relying upon to deliver a point at a critical juncture.

Breece: Man, this means I have to make a pick. I’ll say Tyrrell Hatton playing in one of the anchor matches clinches the winning point for Europe. I don’t see this being a beatdown. It will come down to one of the final matches on Day 3. Might as well pick the most dynamic personality in the European room to do it.

Everill: I love a good narrative so if it is to be Europe, why not throw out the kid who was at college about five minutes ago and is now a burgeoning global star in Ludvig Aberg? Or maybe the forgotten veteran in Justin Rose? If you want a U.S. narrative then perhaps Justin Thomas … although he’d be a strong candidate to lead off in Singles so perhaps the man who declared it was unfinished business for the U.S. Team after Whistling Straits until they won away from home. Jordan Spieth.

DelVecchio: Rickie Fowler. Mostly because of what an unbelievably awesome scene this would be for Fowler’s career. He’s the kind of guy you plug into that late wave on Sunday and one who is proven to show up on this stage. We may not see a ton of Fowler earlier in the week, so this Singles match very well could be his shining moment. Maybe he decides to toss the Puka shell necklace back on just like the good ol’ days? I don’t know. I do know one thing though and that’s Rickie Fowler is back in the Ryder Cup.

Bolton: This is a good spot to play the provocateur, but I’ll keep it in the center of the fairway. Kidding. Shane Lowry for the win. “Take that, haters.” Sláinte!

Source : PGA Tour