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As the phrase goes ‘all good things come to those who wait’ and finally this week after a 12-month extra wait we are to be rewarded with the much-anticipated playing of the 43rd edition of the Ryder Cup. The event, which is played over three days gets underway on Friday at the Pete Dye-designed Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, a par 71 situated on the shore of Lake Michigan, which plays to just under 7400 yards.
The first two days will each see four matches of Fourballs and Foursomes [alternate shot], while Sunday will see twelve singles matches meaning 28 points are up for grabs in total. As current holders of the trophy Europe will need to reach 14 points to retain the cup.
Having regained the trophy in 2016 at Hazeltine, Team USA got it spectacularly wrong three years ago in Paris on a tight track much suited to the home team. That meant Europe have won seven of the nine editions played this millennium.
This time home advantage gives US Captain Steve Stricker an opportunity to set the course up in his teams favour. With their players overall higher standings in the world rankings, it all sees Team USA installed as firm favourites to regain the trophy.
For several reasons, my suspicion is that this could be a lot closer than it looks on paper though. Firstly, with the wind due to blow it is quite possible that despite Stricker’s best efforts the course could still play into European hands as there is no doubt that the likes of Sergio Garcia, Shane Lowry and Tommy Fleetwood will relish a blustery test far more than their American counterparts.
Throw in some potential USA locker-room disharmony courtesy of the ongoing Brooks Koepka and Bryson Dechambeau spat, and Koepka’s recent wrist injury flare up, and there is certainly cause for some optimism for Team Europe.
Europe have concerns of their own though, particularly in the recent form of Tyrell Hatton, Matt Fitzpatrick and Lee Westwood, so I expect USA to have just enough firepower to get home.
From a betting perspective the outright winner market makes little appeal, fortunately though Paddy have priced up a raft of other markets for us to get stuck into and I will start off our staking plan by siding with Justin Thomas to be Team USA’s top points scorer.
Since he first made the team in Paris, Thomas has relished the whole Ryder Cup journey and with a points haul of four out of five, he was one of their few bright spots in France. He looks a certainty to play all five matches this time around and having won the Players at the Pete Dye-designed Sawgrass earlier this year, as well as finishing in the top 20 here in the 2015 PGA Championship, he should be more than comfortable on the course.
Another American I expect to flourish is Tony Finau and the recent winner of the Northern Trust is tipped to bring home the spoils in the Top Wildcard market. With six Americans and three Europeans making up this market, the layers favourite is Jordan Spieth. If Spieth is to prevail here it may well be down to a strong renewal of his successful partnership with Justin Thomas from Paris, something which would be good news for our bet on Thomas to be top US points scorer.
Spieth’s form has dipped slightly of late though and Finau, having thrived on his debut in Paris, is proven in windy conditions and having finished 10th here in 2015, makes plenty of appeal.
The biggest danger here may come from Sergio Garcia or Shane Lowry on the European side, however, I expect Finau to be heavily used over the opening two days and based on the simple logic that Team USA will ultimately prevail, he gets the nod.
Moving on and in the top European Points Scorer market I am happy to chance the in-form Sergio Garcia. Garcia’s Ryder Cup record in fourballs and foursomes, in particular, is superb and with his game having peaked of late, he looks perfectly primed for a big performance in conditions that should suit.
Finally, to wrap things up in the Top European Rookie Market I will side with Ireland’s Shane Lowry over the other two rookies, Viktor Hovland and Bernd Wiesberger. Hovland is the obvious favourite, however, with conditions expected to favour Lowry and with his really strong form of late, he looks the value play.
READ MORE ON THE RYDER CUP 2021
- Swing over to Paddy Power News for Golf tips and previews
- Golf tips: Our best bets for the 2021 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits
- Ryder Cup 2021: Who will be Europe’s top points scorer? Paddy’s latest prices
- Ryder Cup 2021: Ryder Cup format explained and Whistling Straits schedule
- Ryder Cup 2021: When is it? Where is it being held? Who are the favourites?