Since it’s been three years since Europe trounced the United States for their 9th win in the last 12 Ryder Cup competitions, a bit of a refresher course may be in order. The Ryder Cup is a biennial meeting between teams of twelve players each from the United States and Europe, consisting of 28 matches, 16 of which are in two-man team formats and the other 12 are individual matches on the final day of the event.
This year’s version is being held this Friday to Sunday at Whistling Straits with the United States team hosting Europe on the shore of Lake Michigan in the state of Wisconsin. In 2018, Europe prevailed by a score of 17 ½ to 10 ½ despite losing the first three matches of the competition at Le Golf National on the outskirts of Paris and they will need to win 14 points to retain the Cup and the United States will need to pick up 14 ½ points to win it back.
In 2018, the United States jumped out to an early 3 – 0 lead, but Europe won the next eight matches to virtually win the Cup
The U.S. team was coming off an impressive win in 2016, but they faced a tough task in France, with the competition taking place the week following the Tour Championship, won dramatically by Tiger Woods with the FedEx Cup going to Justin Rose. Less than half the European squad had to deal with the short turnaround, while the entire U.S. team was forced to make the trip to Paris and prepare for an exhausting weekend of golf.
The announcements for the pairings for Friday morning’s foursome matches will be made Thursday afternoon, giving bettors a little more time to place wagers on the four alternate-shot team contests. Shortly before the completion of the morning matches, the captains will announce their teams and the order in which they’ll play, with Saturday’s pairings announced after Friday’s play is done for the day and Saturday’s afternoon process will be the same as Friday’s.
There are only four matches per session the first two days, so only eight players from each team play at a time. Who each captain sends out in the first session and who they pair together can give fans a tip as to their overall strategy.
Will U.S. Captain Steve Stricker pair a couple of bombers like Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson together and will Padraig Harrington mix his pair of ten time veterans Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood with less experienced participants? Which players end up sitting in the first session and how quickly each captain gets everyone involved will also indicate who they have the most confidence in, but match results will also have an impact on who sits, who plays, and with whom they are paired.
In 2018, the United States jumped out to an early 3 – 0 lead, but Europe won the next eight matches to virtually win the Cup before Saturday afternoon’s matches ever got underway. The only bright spot for the U.S. was the successful pairing of Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth, who picked up three points for the team and kept them somewhat in contention heading to the singles matches.
Emotional players like Europe’s Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia will need to play well early to put pressure on the heavily favored U.S. side and someone will need to emerge as the leader of the U.S. team, with longtime members Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods on the sidelines, although Mickelson is serving as vice-captain this week.
With the U.S. at -190 or 1/2 odds depending on the sportsbook, if things get close the Americans could get caught playing not to lose, a dangerous situation for them against a team that has a recent history of playing over their heads in the Ryder Cup. If the U.S. team comes out lacking much emotion, it’s a sign that the smart money should go for Europe.