I’m just going to lay it on the line from the get-go here: it’s almost impossible for me to sit on the fence this week and remain impartial for the sake of “good journalism.” I am Scottish, worked for Team Europe at the last Ryder Cup and will be backing the blue & yellow to the death this week.
It’s Ryder Cup week, one of the greatest golf weeks we ever see. In case you’re not familiar, this biennial 3-day event is contested between Team USA and Team Europe, with 12 men ready to do battle for their continent.
My house is going to a fun place to be this week. With an American husband, American father and Scottish mother, I may have to force my 11-month-old son to pick a side early in his little life. Mind you, I’m going to keep that quiet incase he grows up to be a world-class Golfer and can choose a team to play for.…!
The venue for the Ryder Cup alternates between home ground for each team, and after the 2021 “whipping in Wisconsin” it’s off to Rome, Italy for Europe’s turn at the hosting duties. Europe boasts an extremely impressive record when comPeting on home soil, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
Let’s start by listing the 2 teams of 12 players:
The Europeans retained the Solheim Cup last week in Spain; I’m taking that as a momentum-booster heading into the Ryder Cup.
Even though the U.S. team dominated the Euros at Whistling Straits 2 years ago, Europe has won 8 of the last 11 Ryder Cups. Additionally, the Americans haven’t won on European soil since 1993. Having said that, in ’21 the Americans’ 10-point triumph in Wisconsin was the modern record for winning margin.
The Europeans are going to have to start strong. Mind you, it’s in the interest of both sides to start strong as the team who leads after the first day of play goes on to lift the Ryder Cup almost 70% of the time.
Both teams have four rookies, although it seems almost unfair to class Brian Harman and Max Homa as “rookies” after all they’ve achieved.
Play begins on Friday with the Ryder Cup being lifted on Sunday, and 5 sessions are contested over the 3 days. Foursomes (alternate shot) and 4-ball (best score on the hole counts) are played on Friday and Saturday — 4 matches in the morning and 4 matches in the afternoon — and Sunday will be 1 session of 12 singles matches. With 28 points on the table, USA needs 14 to retain the Ryder Cup; Europe has to get to 14.5 points to claim it back.
The format of the Friday morning opening session will be announced in the coming days, although rumors suggest Europe captain Luke Donald will be going with foursomes.
In addition to this preview and pre-tournament picks, I’ll be giving you my insight and top bets prior to each round of the contest as team pairings and matches are announced. I have dug up some attractive higher-odd prop bets, too.
Marco Simone Golf & Country Club: What you need to know
The battle between the United States and Europe will commence on Friday morning at this stunning Italian masterpiece. The course was transformed and redesigned in 2018, with the grand unveiling in March ’21.
The home team is in charge of the course set up, and this is where the Europeans seem to thrive. In 2018 at Le Golf National in Paris, Team Europe defeated a team of shocked Americans by 7 points. The course was set up to favor the Europeans, and it truly played to their strengths.
Early reports from the course show thick, luscious rough, once again putting a premium on accuracy — much like we saw in Paris. Solid driving is going to be key this week. Also, as always in these must-win matches, excellent putting will pay dividends.
The “new” Marco Simone features numerous risk/reward holes and the rolling terrain will pose a unique challenge, with “the City of Seven Hills” providing the breathtaking backdrop
Team USA is the Vegas favorite to lift the Ryder Cup at -115 (DraftKings). This would end the Americans’ 30-year drought of winning the Cup on European soil.
At the time of writing, Unibet and Bet Rivers were offering odds of +100 for a U.S. victory. If you think Team Europe will win, you can get them at +125 (DraftKings).
The odds for a tie between the 2 teams are +1200 (BetMGM). The Ryder Cup has ended in a tie just twice, with the last time being in 1989, and if this occurs the Cup stays with the defending champions. But hey, stranger things have happened.
I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I’m backing the blues and taking Team Europe to win at +125. With in-form players like Hovland and Fleetwood, experienced Ryder Cup leaders in McIlroy, Rahm and Rose, and fresh talent like Aberg and McIntyre, I think the “underdogs” are going to shock a few people this week.
Ryder Cup Prop Bets
Top Continental European Points Scorer – Viktor Hovland (+185) DK Sportsbook
With back-to-back wins on the PGA Tour culminating in the season-long FedExCup title, Hovland is the hottest player on the scene whose game has reached new heights in 2023. He only contributed 1 point in his 5 matches in his Ryder Cup debut, but Hovland’s game has simply been elevated to a different level of late. In his last 3 starts he has gained almost 4.5 strokes off-the-tee and over 4 strokes putting. That’s a winning combo wherever you’re playing!
Top European Rookie – Robert McIntyre (+350) DK Sportsbook
I know Aberg is the hot young talent right now, but let’s not forget that my fellow Scot won the 2022 Italian Open at this course, defeating his team mate Matt Fitzpatrick in a playoff. Yes, I’m sure he’s going to be nervous making his Ryder Cup debut, but we saw McIntyre perform under pressure at the Scottish Open and finish right behind McIlroy. Being back at the scene of his second DP World Tour victory should help with the comfort factor, even just a little bit.
Top USA Points Scorer – Max Homa (+900) DK Sportsbook
I feel like I’m going big on the rookies this week, but Homa doesn’t feel like a rookie. Following his impressive Presidents Cup debut last year where he went 4-0 at Quail Hollow, Homa is ready for this contest. Not only that, but he also hasn’t finished outside the top 10 in any tournament since the Scottish Open mid-July (he finished 12th) and hasn’t lost any strokes off the tee since May. I’d love to see a great showing from Max for the Americans this week, and these are favorable odds.
Top Event Rookie Scorer – Brian Harman (+1100) Caesars Sportsbook
Out of the 8 Ryder Cup rookies, Harman has the longest odds for top points scorer. Brian Harman, the Champion Golfer of the Year, who dominated The Open Championship and won by 6 strokes? Yep, that’s the one. The former Georgia Bulldog is a phenomenal putter and short-Game wizard who showed extreme grit and determination to get his first major win back in July. Plus, when looking at the speculated Team USA pods, Harman and Koepka could be paired together to form quite the combo. I think Harman is going to be a real hero of this American side in Rome. He is also +500 to be top rookie scorer for Team USA.
Top Captains Pick Scorer – Ludvig Aberg (+1400) Caesars Sportsbook
Aberg is making his Ryder Cup debut. Of course he is — he only turned professional in June! I’m sure Donald is confident in his selection, as Aberg has been playing over in Europe on the DP World Tour the last few weeks and has been on quite the run. The Swede won the Omega European Masters, finished T4 in the Czech Masters and T10 at the BMW PGA Championship. In his 10 professional starts, he has never been negative strokes gained off the tee. This is a huge stage for him, but he seems to be taking a lot in his stride right now, and his Game is mighty impressive.
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