It's been two years since the 'Miracle of Medinah', when Europe clawed their way back from 10-6 down on the final day of the 2012 Ryder Cup to claim victory. Now the competition returns to Gleneagles with the usual buzz of excitement, a little controversy, and plenty of opportunities for punters.
The Ryder Cup pits the cream of European golf against the best the USA can offer, as two teams of 12 players face off in a total of 28 matches across a packed three day schedule.
On the Friday and Saturday, players compete in foursomes and fourballs, both involving two teams of two players. In foursomes, teammates alternate shots with the same ball, while in fourballs, each player keeps his own ball for the entire round, and the winner is the side with the lowest scoring individual. On the final Sunday, players go head-to-head in 12 singles matches.
Don’t worry if you haven’t got the swing of the tournament structure, there are plenty of stats to help you make an informed choice. Europe have won five of the last six Ryder Cup outings, and perhaps unsurprisingly, Betfair Sports are offering 4/6 on a European victory and 9/5 on the USA. Whether the reality is quite so clear cut is debatable.
It's true that world number one Rory McIlroy has been displaying fine form, and the only man to end his hot streak, Billy Horschel, has been controversially overlooked by USA captain Tom Watson. But the recent climax of the PGA Tour Championship saw American Jim Furyk deliver a performance that matched McIlroy's. Equally, the USA’s Rickie Fowler outperformed world number three Sergio Garcia, suggesting this could be a much tighter race.
Gambling.com also wonders whether the USA wildcards are more sensible picks than Watson is being given credit for. Keegan Bradley formed a formidable pairing with Phil Mickelson at Medinah in 2012, which may go some way to explaining the surprise exclusion of Horschel. It’s easy to forget during the build-up to the Ryder Cup that this is about a team effort, not just about assessing individual form.
If you’re still not tempted to risk a punt on this year’s underdogs, there's plenty of value to be found elsewhere. The top debutant market looks interesting, with the highly rated Jordan Spieth a tempting prospect at 5/2.
The top USA scorer market is another with real potential - Bubba Watson's loss of form since his Masters victory means he’s placed at mouth-watering odds of 8/1. Even Jim Furyk is rated at 7/1, despite his commanding play on the PGA Tour.
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