What's on Tap: The Ryder Cup
It's the Red, White, and Blue vs. the EU out in Italy this week.
By Alex Lauzon from the “Course of Life” podcast
Red, White, and Blue vs. the EU
It’s Ryder Cup week, the one week of the year where the world’s best put away the sponsor logos, kiss goodbye to the exorbitant prize money and simply play for their country. The biennial competition between Team USA and Team Europe (previously Great Britain and Ireland has gone on for close to a century, and always produces some fierce moments of competition and drama like no other golf event can. Epic golf memories like The War on the Shore, The Battle at Brookline and The Miracle at Medinah were all born here, and this year’s matches have enough intrigue to become a movie of their own.
As it lays out in the wagering world, Team USA (-120) finds themselves as slight favorites coming off the blowout win at Whistling Straits in 2021, but Team Europe (+120) arguably come in with better overall form top to bottom and they’re the home team this time around. Here’s what to watch on each side so we can take down our pick pools, and maybe even cash a Top Team Points Scorer ticket this week in Italy.
Team USA: Running it Back
Predictably, Captain Zach Johnson went out of his way to reunite as much of the victorious 2021 team. He used his Captain’s picks on vets like Brooks Koepka (well deserved), but also stretched and grabbed Rickie Fowler and a slightly off form Justin Thomas, hoping they can reproduce Ryder Cup magic yet again. Those vets will help along first timers like Wyndham Clark, Sam Burns and Brian Harman who make their Ryder Cup debuts on away team’s turf. Scottie Scheffler (+450) leads the way as a favorite to be the top scorer for Team USA despite his recent issues on the greens, followed by match play wizards Patrick Cantlay (+550) and Xander Schauffele (+600).
Team Europe: Fresh Blood and a Mixer
Team Europe Captain Luke Donald also went with what he knows…mostly. Rory, Rham and Hovland lead off a Euro team with lots of familiar faces on the roster, and at ⅔ of the team has Ryder Cup experience. The ferocious energy of lads like Shane Lowry and Robrt MacIntyre should make for fun moments, and steely vet Justin Rose returns to the Ryder Cup after a great 2023 campaign. As for the fresh blood on the home side, it’s young and vibrant. At 22 years young Nicolai Hojgaard makes his debut, but sadly it’s not alongside his twin brother and fellow pro Rasmus. The mysterious name at the end of Europe’s roster is Swede Ludvig Aberg. At just 23 he becomes quite the wild card - he’s got movie star looks and ball striking praise from the world’s best.
Forecasting The Ryder Cup
As previous Ryder Cups would indicate, the pre-event odds have not been a good predictor of the result. In 2021 Team USA was a slight underdog but played like a -200 favorite and demolished the matches with a record 19-9. Now, the rosters appear to be very evenly matched and there’s no way that feat is repeated on either end. This comes down to Sunday singles pairings and likely the last handful of matches. Also, the battle of the newcomer’s match records often predicts which team comes out on top by Sunday evening. One final piece of advice - a Thursday evening pick will at least allow you to see the Friday match schedule before wagering accordingly.
Who’s The Pick?
Reluctantly, this American’s pick is Team Europe (+120) to win it this week in Italy. 70% of that is due to the idea that the home team has a tremendous advantage and have won the last four consecutive cups. The other 30% of this pick is me picking Europe and mushing them to an inconceivable level in 2021. It comes down to the wire in any event.
Team Europe Top Point Scorer: Tommy Fleetwood +600, Justin Rose +1400
Team USA Top Point Scorer: Xander Schauffele +600, Brooks Koepka +700
Where to watch: USA, NBC and Peacock deliver full-time full tilt coverage - upwards of 10+ hours each day from first shot in the morning to the last putt. Break out your home country’s gear.
Why to watch: The Ryder Cup brings a rare burst of team competition to pro, and the Team Europe vs. Team USA rivalry has intensified in recent years.
What to eat: In honor of the Italian backdrop, pastries and coffee paired with a nice antipasto sounds like a great plan.
Winner's Share: The Cup.
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