Golf’s premier team event has once again arrived, and the setting this time is the demanding, coastal course of Whistling Straits. 24 of the very best players – 12 from the US, 12 from Europe – will head to Wisconsin to do battle it out for one of the biggest honours the sport has to offer.
Ryder Cup General Information:
- Date: Friday September 24th – Sunday September 26th, 2021
- TV-Time: NBCSN, 3:00 p.m. ET
- Venue: Whistling Straits Golf Course
- Location: Sheboygan, Wisconsin
- 2018 winner: Europe (17-11)
Tournament, Conditions & Course Info
The Ryder Cup will take place for the first time since 2018, after COVID-19 put a stop to play last year. After suffering a heavy defeat in France three years ago, the US team will be looking to turn the tables on their European counterparts, who’ve won four of the last five renewals.
Fortunately for the US, the home side gets to set the course up however they wish, so Wisconsin’s Whistling Straits ought to favour the big-hitting Americans, who have no lack of firepower.
The format of the tournament is simple. Five sessions of golf will take place over three days. The first day consists of four foursomes matches, followed by four fourball matches. This is then repeated on day two. 12 singles matches on the third and final day will bring proceedings to a close.
Expert Pick #1 – USA to Win -2.5 @+110
Given Europe’s recent dominance in this event, the odds available on a USA win may seem short, but the hosts really do have lots in favour this week. Eight of the world’s top ten players according to the Official World Golf Rankings are in the US team, while Europe have just one top-ten golfer in their line-up. That player is the current world number one Jon Rahm, but give me eight of the top ten over the world’s best player any day.
As touched on above, and this is key, the hosts have been afforded the luxury of setting the course up to suit their own needs. With power in abundance, expect Whistling Straits to be playing long, which on paper at least, favours Steve Stricker’s men more than Padraig Harrington’s. Another factor that tips the scales in favour is the poor record of the Europeans at this venue.
Whistling Straits has hosted the PGA Championship on multiple occasions and nobody in the current European team has thrived. Only three out of four made the cut in 2004, with Ian Poulter finishing outside the top 30, while both Sergio Garcia and Shane Lowry missed the cut in 2010. In 2015, while four US team members hit the top ten, Tommy Fleetwood, Shane Lowry, Bernd Wiesberger and Ian Poulter all missed the cut.
Quite simply, the US have lots on their side, including the fact that six of the last seven home teams have won the Ryder Cup, with five winning by a margin of at least five points, so much so that they look a good bet to record a convincing win.
Expert Pick #2 – Justin Thomas Top Combined Point Scorer @+900
Justin Thomas is one of the leading lights for the US this week. His partnership with Jordan Spieth, coupled with his excellent record in the Presidents Cup, means that he’s likely to play in all five sessions, much as he did in 2018. Moreover, though this will be only his second Ryder Cup, his record is strong.
On debut in 2018, the American sensation won four matches, as well as grinding out a half, which gives him a very impressive record of 4-1-0. Not only was he superb in France, but when it comes to team competitions, he’s usually the best player on the golf course, so taking odds of +900 on the world number five to finish the week as the top point scorer for either team is a solid option.
Expert Pick #3 – Viktor Hovland Top European Point Scorer @+700
Naturally, Jon Rahm who finished the PGA Tour season in flying form is expected to score the most points for the Europeans, but his strong favouritism means there’s some juice in the price of a few others, and no player looks more appealing at the odds than Viktor Hovland, who really came into his own during the 20-21 season, posting seven top-ten finishes.
As one of the best on the tour last season in terms of strokes gained: off-the-tee, with only four players ranking higher, the Norwegian looks a likely partner for either Jon Rahm or Rory McIlroy, which should mean that he competes in most, if not all, of the sessions. Add in that only two Europeans gained more strokes tee-to-green than the 24-year-old, who rated behind only Rory and Rahm for strokes gained: total last season, in 2021 and it’s easy to feel that there’s some value behind odds of +700 on the rookie finishing the week as Europe’s top point scorer.
This is a huge opportunity for the US to turn the Ryder Cup tide, which in recent years has drifted very much the way of the Europeans. However, as touched on above, the hosts have plenty in favour this time. They have the classier team, packed full of the best of the best, while they have history on side in that six of the last seven hosts have claimed victory. With some of Europe’s leading players having previously played poorly at Whistling Straits too, betting on the hosts to claim something of a resounding victory is the way to go.