THE RYDER CUP
USA @ 1/2
Tie @ 12/1
Europe @ 2/1
1pt Rahm/Garcia to halve @ 11/2
1pt Johnson/Morikawa to win @ 21/20
2pts Koepka/Berger to win @ 4/5
0.5pts McIlroy/Poulter to halve @ 11/2
3pts USA to win Day 1 foursomes @ 19/20
0.5pts USA to win all five sessions @ 12/1
European captain Padraig Harrington is trusting his Spanish Armada Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia to put American rivals Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth to the sword when the year-late 2020 Ryder Cup finally tees off at Whistling Straits.
The result of the first match out in the morning foursomes (7.05am local time in Wisconsin, 1.05pm here) will affect the three that come later and set the whole tone for the rest of the week so is massively important. It is such a toss-up that Fitzdares go 11/10 each of two with 11/2 a halved match.
The alternate-shot game is the hardest to play and has been Europe’s best discipline for the five encounters in the last decade, 2010 to 2018. They lead 23-17 for that period but will do mighty well to get even a draw here.
The world No. 1, Rahm, partnered by the highest points scorer in Ryder Cup history, Garcia with 25, looks a pairing made in heaven but great friends Thomas and Spieth won three out of four together in Paris when all around them comrades were crashing.
They will be very hard to beat.
Garcia has the passion but does he have the putting stroke? That’s the big question. He is the weakest of the four with the flat stick and a partisan 95% American crowd will make plenty of noise if he misses one early.
The other three in that foursome are by no means infallible on the four-and-five-footers either so I’ll sit on the fence and suggest 11/2 the half. Halved foursomes are infrequent but we had two at Gleneagles in 2014 and you only need one to show a profit.
The last time the USA had home advantage, at Hazeltine in 2016, they whitewashed Europe 4-0 on the first morning and that more or less settled the outcome straight away.
I don’t expect a repeat but still think the USA will win 3-1 and give a great start to those taking Fitzdares’ 12/1 about the Americans winning all five sessions. It’s unlikely but possible and the price is tempting.
The second match, Paul Casey and debutant Viktor Hovland, the first Norwegian to play in the Ryder Cup, versus Dustin Johnson and Open champion Collin Morikawa, is another toss-up but I’ll take the 11/10 for the Americans as Hovland’s around-the-green frailty could show up under pressure.
Neither Lee Westwood nor Matt Fitzpatrick arrives in the best of form and face a tough job holding hard-man Brooks Koepka and underrated debutant Daniel Berger. The American pair often play together and know each other’s game well.
Harrington is counting on experience by sending all four of his over-40s, Garcia, Westwood, Casey and Ian Poulter, out early while keeping Shane Lowry, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton and Bernd Wiesberger back for fourballs duty.
Poulter partners Rory McIlroy against two hot Americans, FedEx Cup champion Patrick Cantlay and Olympic gold medalist Xander Schauffele.
The Americans won two, lost two as Presidents Cup partners so are not invincible but both have blossomed since. The real McIlroy needs to stand up if Europe are to get anything out of this one and the signs are he might just do that.
They call Poulter the Postman because he delivers points when most needed. He plays above himself in team and match-play golf and this unexpected pairing could well scramble a half in the bottom match.
Two out of four alternate-shot games to finish level is asking a lot but if forced to come off the fence, my vote would go to the Americans.
Bryson DeChambeau, the longest hitter on either team, will presumably be unleashed in the fourballs along with rookies Tony Finau, Scottie Scheffler and Harris English. Exciting times ahead – let’s go!