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Sep 17, 2018
Sep 17, 2018

The role of consistency at the Ryder Cup

The Ryder Cup format

The effect of consistency in golf

Why fourball matches favour unpredictable golfers

The role of consistency at the Ryder Cup

With consistency being the number one quality when assessing the value of a player, the Ryder Cup and its format turn everything you knew about predicting winners on its head. Read on to find out why unpredictable golfers are more likely to be successful at the Ryder Cup than golfers with a consistent track record.

The first thing to consider when betting on the outright winner of a golf tournament is the format of the competition. The two main golf formats are stroke play and match play and it is vital to understand the differences between the two before deciding where to place your money.

In stroke play, golfers accumulate strokes and the player with the fewest strokes wins. This means that a bad performance at one hole, such as seven on a par four, can effectively destroy a player’s chances to win.

In match play, on the other hand, each hole is played separately. The player with the fewest strokes on a hole wins the individual hole and the number of holes won in the match determines the overall winner. A bad performance at one hole is therefore less important. If one player scores three, it is irrelevant whether the other took four shots or 24.

The Ryder Cup format

While the majority of golf contests are conducted as a stroke play over 72 holes, the Ryder Cup between Europe and the USA involves 28 match play competitions over 18 holes between players selected from the two teams of twelve. 

While an unpredictable player is worse off against a consistent opponent in a singles match, in fourball matches, unpredictable players are the clear favourites over a team with a consistent track record.

A particular feature of the Ryder Cup is that during the first two days, there are four fourball matches, in which two golf players of each side compete directly against each other. Each golfer plays their own ball throughout the game, with four balls in play at all times. The winner is determined by the comparing the lower scoring team members.

It is exactly because of this characteristic that betting on the Ryder Cup requires a different approach. Whereas inconsistent performance is a dreadful drawback in stroke play competitions, in this form of golf, statistics show that the more inconsistent the players, the more likely they are to win the tournament. 

The effect of consistency in golf

In his book Taking Chances, John Haigh investigates how much of an advantage inconsistent performance can bring to a team. To measure his model, he takes that at any hole a player scores either eagle, birdie, par or bogey and introduces two players. Player A is highly consistent in his results whereas Player B more erratic. The below table shows their respective performance for each type of result.

 

Eagle

Birdie

Par

Bogey

Player A (consistent)

5%

10%

80%

5%

Player B

(unpredictable)

10%

20%

40%

30%

Based on the above data, we can assess what will happen in a singles match between them by examining each combination of scores. What the maths suggest is that in 36% of the times the two players get the same score, the consistent player (A) wins about 35.5% of holes and the unpredictable player (B) wins about 28.5% of holes, which gives the consistent player (A) a small but consistent advantage over the unpredictable one.

Why fourball matches favour unpredictable golfers

How do things change, however,  when two consistent players are paired against two unpredictable players? The distribution of the better score at any hole for each team is calculated in the below table:

 

Eagle

Birdie

Par

Bogey

2 consistent players (A)

9.75%

18%

72%

0.25%

2 unpredictable players

19%

32%

40%

9%

What becomes immediately apparent is the drastic decrease in the number of bogeys for the unpredictable players from 30% to just 9% and the 40% performance at par.

The calculations show that the unpredictable team wins 41% of holes, 36% will be shared while the consistent team wins only 23% of holes.

Whereas an unpredictable player is marginally worse off when playing against a consistent opponent in a singles match, when it comes to team work, unpredictable players are the clear favourites to win against a team with a consistent track record.

Get the best 2018 Ryder Cup odds at Pinnacle, the ultimate bookmaker with the highest limits and lowest margins.

 

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