Sep 17, 2018
Sep 17, 2018

Ryder Cup 2018 odds analysis: Team Europe or Team USA?

What is the Ryder Cup?

Who has made the 2018 Ryder Cup teams?

What to consider before betting on the Ryder Cup

Ryder Cup 2018 odds analysis: Team Europe or Team USA?

The 42nd edition of the Ryder Cup takes place between September 28-30 at Le Golf National in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines. The excitement is building ahead of one of golf’s biggest events, but where is the value in the Ryder Cup 2018 odds? Read on to find out.

What is the Ryder Cup?

The Ryder Cup is a biennial golf competition between two teams of twelve male golfers (Team Europe and Team USA). There has been various developments to the competition format over the years but since 1979, the three day event consists of two rounds of four foursomes and four fourballs on days one and two, with 12 singles matches on the final day.

All matches during the Ryder Cup follow the match play format. The singles matches are the most commonly known format with one player from each team competing against the other with the lowest score on each hole “winning” that particular hole. This is different to the stroke play used for most PGA and European Tour events where the lowest overall score after 18 holes wins.

A foursomes match consists of two players from each team competing against one another, with players taking alternate shots with the other player on their team. A fourball match also has two players from each team taking part but scoring is slightly different in that each player plays their own ball for all 18 holes and only the best score for each team on an individual hole counts.

A point scoring system is used to determine the winner of the Ryder Cup, with one point awarded to the winner/winners of each match and both teams earning half a point for any match that ends in a tie after 18 holes. There are a total of 28 points up for grabs. In the event of a draw (14-14) the Ryder Cup is retained by the previous winners.

The history of the Ryder Cup

Although there had been a few team based golf competitions involving America and Great Britain in the years prior, the first official Ryder Cup took place at Worcester Country Club in 1927. The tournament was financially supported by English businessman Samuel Ryder and has been referred to as the Ryder Cup ever since.

Europe have performed much better than their opponents in recent years (only losing twice since their 1993 loss at the Belfry).

The Ryder Cup was initially contested by Great Britain (latterly Great Britain and Ireland) and the USA. In 1979, players from continental Europe were then invited to join and since then have competed alongside players from Great Britain and Ireland against the USA. 

The current scores for the Ryder Cup (since the change in 1979) are 10-8 to Europe. Europe have been the most dominant in recent years (winning eight of the last ten) and have also put up two of the three joint-biggest winning margins (18.5-9.5) in the last seven years.

2018 Ryder Cup teams

European Ryder Cup team

European Ryder Cup team

Francesco Molinari

Justin Rose

Jon Rahm

Rory McIlroy

Tommy Fleetwood

Tyrrell Hatton

Alex Noren

Thorbjorn Olesen

Paul Casey

Sergio Garcia

Ian Poulter

Henrik Stenson

Team Europe’s Captain for the 2018 Ryder Cup is Tomas Bjorn with Luke Donald, Padraig Harrington, Robert Karlsson, Graeme McDowell and Lee Westood the five vice-captains.

The top four players from the Race to Dubai Points List and World Points List automatically qualify and Bjorn has made four captain’s picks (up from three in previous years).

USA Ryder Cup team 

USA Ryder Cup team

Brooks Koepka

Dustin Johnson

Patrick Reed

Bubba Watson

Jordan Spieth

Rickie Fowler

Webb Simpson

Bryson DeChambeau

Phil Mickelson

Tiger Woods

Tony Finau

Jim Furyk is the Team USA Ryder Cup captain for 2018. The USA selects eight players automatically from the Ryder Cup Points List (taken from major events and PGA Tour events) with another four coming as captain’s picks. Fury will be assisted by his vice-captains throughout the competition; Davis Love III, Steve Stricker, David Duval, Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar.

What to consider when analysing the Ryder Cup odds

Does home field advantage exist?

The benefits of playing at home are evident across multiple sports. While it may be more influential in some sports compared to others (soccer, the NFL and NBA being a few examples), it is rarely thought of in normal golf events. However, the Ryder Cup is one golf event when playing at home could provide a real advantage.

The format of the Ryder Cup means Team Europe and Team USA alternate as hosts of the tournament. This year it’s Team Europe that will be playing on “home soil” with the tournament held in France - it is only the second time a country outside of the United Kingdom has hosted for Team Europe.

In terms of analysing the benefits of hosting the Ryder Cup, the fact that the host has won in eight of the last ten tournaments suggests there could be an advantage. Additionally, the average score for home vs. away in the last ten Ryder Cups is 15-13.

The usual factors apply for home advantage in golf - familiarity with surroundings, the impact travelling could have on performance and the psychological boost the crowd can provide. Perhaps most important is the contrast in course styles between USA and Europe.

Links style courses (usually in coastal areas featuring few trees, “pot” bunkers, uneven fairways and thick rough) feature heavily when Team Europe has hosted the Ryder Cup - with their opponents often struggling to deal with the elements and unique course style. Team USA, unsurprisingly, have courses that play to their strengths with parkland and dessert the most common course styles.

When analysing the 2018 Ryder Cup odds, it’s worth considering the type of course that it will be played on. The Albatross course at Le Golf National is a par 72 that stretches 7,331 in total. There’s very few trees to contend with on the course but ample water hazards (particularly on the final four holes) which could prove vital towards the end of the Ryder Cup.

How important is experience?

Experience is often seen as a crucial element of a successful Ryder Cup winning team. Given the unique competition format and high-pressure environment it’s easy to see why bettors might place an emphasis on the role experience plays in the Ryder Cup, but how important is it?

Europe have also put up two of the three joint-biggest winning margins (18.5-9.5) in the last seven years.

When looking at the last ten Ryder Cups, it would appear that previous experience isn’t that influential in determining the winner. The team with the most Ryder Cup appearances between them (and most combined individual matches) has won five of the ten occasions. If you generalise experience to be based on age, the team with the highest average age has only won four of the last ten.

Over the years, different captains have taken fairly different approaches to their “wildcard” picks (those that aren’t automatically selected based on ranking points). 

Tomas Bjorn clearly values experience and has gone for Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson (all of which have played in a minimum of three Ryder Cups and have amassed a total of 80 Ryder Cup matches between them).

Jim Furyk has followed suit with his selections of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson (the two have played in a combined 18 Ryder Cups and 78 matches) but he’s also selected two Ryder Cup rookies in Bryson DeChambeau and Tony Finau. Debutants have proven to be hit and miss in recent years - Brooks Koepa’s three wins and a loss compared to Danny Willett’s three losses from 2016 shows how much of a contrast there can be.

Ryder Cup 2018 odds: Where is the value?

Team USA head into the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in France on the back of a convincing 17-11 win last around. The Americans also have the edge in terms of experience (which some may believe to be more important than others) with 34 Ryder Cup appearances and 139 matches between them (compared to Team Europe’s 30 Ryder Cups and 124 matches).

In terms of overall quality, Team USA also looks like the team with the most individual in-form players - ten of the 12 players are currently ranked inside the top 20 in the world. In contrast, Team Europe has seven of the world’s top 20 players in their ranks.

It’s also worth noting that since the last Ryder Cup, players from Team USA have won five of the last eight majors. Of the remaining three, Team Europe’s Sergio Garcia and Francescso Molinari won two and Justin Thomas (who hasn’t been selected by Team USA) won the other.

It should come as no surprise that Team USA are the favourites in the outright Ryder Cup 2018 odds at 1.578* to lift the trophy (as the current holders they have an advantage in that a draw would be enough to secure a winning bet). Team Europe may be considered the outsiders at 2.469* but there are also plenty of positives that could work in their favour.

Europe have performed much better than their opponents in recent years (only losing twice since their 1993 loss at the Belfry) - that is also only the second time since 1979 that Europe has lost as hosts.

As the odds suggest, the outright winner of the 2018 Ryder Cup may just be too close to call. Instead, bettors can analyse the individual matchups and use Pinnacle’s golf betting guide to help analyse each player’s chances and bet when there is value on offer.

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