We’ve been keen on Europe for the last two to three months and despite Tiger Woods’ win at the weekend – we’re not changing our minds now.
Le Golf National looks a perfect fit for Team Europe as they play the French Open here every year and Alex Noren and Tommy Fleetwood have won the last two editions respectively and Francesco Moliniari has been runner-up three times.
Thorbjorn Olesen, Jon Rahm, Paul Casey & Sergio Garcia have all finished high up the leaderboard over course and distance in Paris. In fact 11 of Europe’s 12 players have played here. The only ‘home’ player not to have played a competitive round here is Rory McIlroy.
Team USA look to us to be laced with aggressive tee-box boomers, but this course restricts the ability to do that. Some players have indicated that they may be able to take the driver out of the bag on just five holes and that will blunt the Americans power.
There’s been a lot of talk about the ‘rookie factor’ in the European team but there’s no comparison to two years ago.
At Hazeltine, there was: Danny Willett, Chris Wood, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Andy Sullivan, Matthew Fitzpatrick & Thomas Pieters.
This time it’s Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Alex Noren, Thorbjorn Olesen & Jon Rahm. All are proven winners either on the European Tour or Stateside. Or both.
On paper, Europe look to have arguably their strongest 12 in about six to 10 years.
It looks very even between the sides but you can get 5/4 about the Europeans. That looks a value bet to me.
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The European set-up should have very, very, strong foursomes pairings (alternative shots) on Friday afternoon. The Americans can be quite erratic and if they’re too aggressive off the tee here, they’ll leave their partner in trouble with their second shot.
Ideally, what you need in foursomes is tee-to-green merchants.
They share the one ball and really have to work well as a pair.
The Italian has a great record at this track where he’s finished runner-up at the French Open three times in the last seven years. He won the Quick Loans National Stateside earlier this season as well as the BMW PGA Championship on the European Tour. However, his career took a step-change when he was crowned Open Champion in July.
He should play all five matches and that’s what you need to start with in this market. Could even be worth splitting the stake to make him the top overall points scorer at 16/1.
The world number four should play all five matches whereas the rest of them in this market might only play three times. That’s a massive edge already.
He finished eighth here at the French Open at the end of June when he was one of the few Americans who bothered to play the course in advance. He could be the linchpin of Team USA and will likely be paired with his best mates Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth.
In the President’s Cup, he had two wins and a draw when paired with Fowler and played all five games. We’re doubtful that Dustin Johnston or Brooks Koepka will cope as well with the strategy of keeping the driver in the bag on a lot of the holes.
He’s 8/11 to be the top American rookie but we’re going 3/1 that he’ll be the top overall rookie. He looks solid and if he plays five games – he’ll have a massive edge over compatriots Bryson DeChambeau & Tony Finau and the five Europeans in the market.
* Prices correct at time of posting