THE bookies have pegged Team USA as -135.14 favourites to win the 42nd edition of the Ryder Cup, which tees off Thursday, September 28 at Le Golf National on the outskirts Paris.
The defending champions are boosted by the dazzling form of Tiger Woods, who ended a five-year drought last weekend with his victory at the Tour Championship.
Dustin Johnson (third), Webb Simpson (tied fourth), Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas (both tied seventh) also finished in the upper reaches of the leaderboard at East Lake, but there were an alarming number of big names at the wrong end of the spectrum.
Phil Mickelson wound up dead last, with Bubba Watson, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka rounding out the bottom four.
But perhaps the biggest concern of all is Jordan Spieth, who failed to qualify for the Tour Championship after his worst year since joining the PGA Tour in 2013.
The Americans will need those guys to find something if they are to have any hope of stopping a 25-year rot on foreign soil.
Team Europe (+145 at Bovada) have a few doubts of their own as the Ryder Cup returns to the continent for the first time since Valderrama in 1997.
Captain Thomas Bjorn’s decision to revert to the old guard of Paul Casey and Ian Poulter has raised a few eyebrows, while neither Sergio Garcia nor Henrik Stenson have enjoyed their best years on tour.
Garcia and Poulter are noted matchplay performers, however, and Bjorn may feel that big-game experience will prove critical in a team that features no fewer than five rookies.
Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Alex Noren, Thorbjorn Olesen and Jon Rahm are all making their Ryder Cup debuts this week, as are Thomas, Bryson DeChambeau and Tony Finau for the US.
Despite all the question marks, there are plenty of promising signs for the hosts.
Leading the charge is world number two Justin Rose, who heads to France in peak form after a run of three consecutive top-five results in the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
Rory McIlroy also enjoyed a strong finish to the PGA Tour season, while Open champ Francesco Molinari bounced back from some early blunders at the Tour Championship with solid scores over the weekend.
2018 Ryder Cup teams
Top pick for Team Europe: Justin Rose
- +500 for top Europe player at Bovada
- +250 for top British and Irish player
- -109.89 to score over 2.5 points
He may have given up top spot in the world rankings for now, but Rose’s form is hard to fault. He was excellent throughout the FedEx Cup Playoffs and, with 11 wins from 19 previous Ryder Cup matches, looks the pick of the European players this year.
Best bet for Team USA: Tiger Woods
- +750 for top USA player at Bovada
- +300 for top USA wildcard
- +175 to score over 2.5 points
The Ryder Cup has not always been kind to Tiger, but one gets the impression he is primed for a big one this time around. The Tour Championship win will have given Woods a huge confidence boost as he looks to improve on an underwhelming 43.93 per cent win percentage.
More players to watch at Ryder Cup 2018
Francesco Molinari – Third time’s a charm? Italy’s top gun failed to register a win in his first two Ryder Cup excursions, so he will be eager to break that duck after a career-best year. Interestingly, Molinari took on Tiger in the singles at both Celtic Manor and Medinah.
Bubba Watson – If Bubba hadn’t qualified automatically due to some good results early in the season, it is hard to imagine he would have entered Jim Furyk’s thoughts as a potential wildcard. The Floridian southpaw has lost eight of 11 Ryder Cup clashes to date.
Ian Poulter – The British bulldog’s matchplay pedigree is beyond dispute, but has he still got the magic touch after all these years? It is a huge call from the European skipper, because this pick alone could make or break Europe’s chances at Le Golf National.
Phil Mickelson – As with Poulter, experience was the deciding factor in Mickelson’s selection. Unlike his European counterpart, however, Phil has rarely delivered big results at the Ryder Cup. After a poor week at East Lake, there is no little pressure on the stylish lefty to justify his selection.
Europe vs. USA betting predictions
If the Ryder Cup was played in the States this year, few would be giving Europe a chance. Rookies make up half the squad, while several of their best players in recent years are struggling for form. But it’s not in the USA, and the visitors have a few questions of their own to answer, so there is value in backing the home team to edge it by a couple of points.
Europe to win by 1-3 points (+375 at Bovada)
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