Sep 24, 2021
Sep 24, 2021

Ryder Cup 2020 preview

Ryder Cup 2020: odds and predictions

History of the Ryder Cup

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Get expert insight from Sophie Walker

Ryder Cup 2020 preview

It may be 2021 but this is still called the Ryder Cup 2020 as it was postponed last autumn. Tour golf returned in the spring with no crowds, but the powers that be decided that you can't have a Ryder Cup without fans, and I agree. Whistling Straits is the venue for America vs. Europe in the 43rd Ryder Cup.

Dates: September 24-26, 2021

Venue: Whistling Straits, Haven, Wisconsin

Bet: Ryder Cup 2020 odds

Ryder Cup: History and format

The Ryder Cup has become one of the world’s greatest sporting events. The biennial event, named after businessman Samuel Ryder, was first officially held in 1927. For the first 50 years, it was a match play event between 12 men from the USA against 12 men from Great Britain and Ireland. In 1979, Great Britain and Ireland were joined by the rest of Europe, and that is when the Ryder Cup really came to life. It became one tour (PGA) against the other (European Tour) and the competition, standard of play, and coverage of the event became bigger and better.

As previously mentioned, there are 12 golfers on each team. The event is played over three days with five sessions of matches. The form of golf is match play, with each game being played over 18 holes. The best score at the end of the hole wins that hole and if the score is the same, the hole is tied. The winner of the match is the pair who win the most holes, e.g. three holes ahead with only two holes to play out of the 18 is called a 3&2 victory. The first two days of the competition feature four fourballs and foursomes per day. Depending on the captain’s choice, they can play foursomes or fourballs first.

What are Foursomes (alternate shot)?

Two golfers play one ball between them, alternating shots. They take on another team of two golfers doing the same. This is a tough format as players need to work out who they perform well with, which is down to a mix of personality and golfing style. Players then need to decide who hits the tee shots on the odd holes and who hits them on the even holes.

What are Fourballs?

Golfers team up in pairs but play their own ball this time, so there will be four balls in play during this match. The best ball (score) out of the two players at the end of the hole will be chosen as the score to represent their team. Once again, it is head-to-head match play golf pitting the European pair against the pair from the USA, they can either win 1 point (win), 0.5 points (draw) or 0 points (lose).

Not all 12 players are required in each session on Friday and Saturday but they all must play on Sunday, when there will be 12 singles matches with 12 points on offer. The men go out in the order in which their captain wants them to. Neither captain has any idea what the other one is doing; before each session, the captain announces his team to the other and the media.

Ryder Cup 2020: Teams

Team USA

Team Europe

Steve Stricker (captain)

Padraig Harrington (captain)

Collin Morikawa

Jon Rahm

Bryson DeChambeau

Tommy Fleetwood

Brooks Koepka

Rory McIlroy

Dustin Johnson

Paul Casey

Justin Thomas

Viktor Hovland

Patrick Cantlay

Lee Westwood

Daniel Berger (Captain's pick)

Bernd Wiesberger

Tony Finau (Captain's pick)

Tyrrell Hatton

Jordan Spieth (Captain's pick)

Matt Fitzpatrick

Harris English (Captain's pick)

Shane Lowry (Captain's pick)

Xander Schauffele (Captain's pick)

Sergio Garcia (Captain's pick)

Scottie Scheffler (Captain's pick)

Ian Poulter (Captain's pick)

Ryder Cup 2020: The course

Whistling Straits is a golf course located on the shores of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin and was designed by Pete and Alice Dye. The flagship Straits Course measures 7390 yards and has a par of 71 - I would call it a beast due to its length. Opened in 1998, the course has hosted three PGA Championships, in 2004 (winner - Vijay Singh), 2007 (winner - Martin Kaymer), and 2015 (winner - Jason Day) as well as a US Senior Open in 2007 (winner – Brad Bryant). As the course is coastal, it has a British links-style, with few trees, and is also affected by the wind. It is ranked as one of the best golf courses in America.

A lot is being said about how the course will be better for the Americans, who perform better on long and wide courses with the rough being cut short. However, this course has the potential to play into the hands of the Europeans if the wind blows and the fairways play fast. And if you look at the history of performers, it’s the shot-makers, the players who can control their ball flight, and the good pace putters who will do well here.

Rumour has it the course is going to play really long in order to suit the likes of De Chambeau, Finau, Koepka, and Johnson (the home team). However, Team Europe also boasts some excellent drivers of the golf ball in Rahm, McIlroy, Hovland, and Garcia, which might make this a more balanced, close fight than many would first think.

Ryder Cup 2020: Where is the value?

The Americans are favourites to lift the Ryder Cup at 1.518*, which is probably due to their home advantage. Team USA have won the trophy 26 times, losing just four times at home. However, a closer inspection of the results shows that the Americans were dominant until 1985. Since then, they have only won the Ryder Cup five times in 17 attempts, both home and away.

Team USA do have a higher world ranking (on average) per player than their opponents, which is another one of the reasons they’re favoured in the betting. However, with Team Europe boasting a stellar recent record, winning four of the last five Ryder Cups, and having the world number one Jon Rahm in their team, this tournament is far too close to call.


I’d recommend favouring Europe in the betting for the foursome sessions; Team USA’s record is historically poor, winning less than 10 of the 34 foursome sessions since 1985.

A bonus for the USA line-up are the pairings of Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth (childhood friends) and Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele (who formed a strong pairing at the Presidents Cup in 2019). These two pairs could upset the apple cart but, as mentioned, historical statistics point to Team Europe being tough to beat in the foursome sessions.

Rookie members to keep an eye on

Shane Lowry is making his first appearance in the Ryder Cup and has the perfect game for Whistling Straits. Lowry grew up playing pitch and putt so has a deadly short game to wear down any opponent. He also boasts a fantastic record on links golf courses, winning the Irish Open and the Open Championship.

Daniel Berger is described by his captain as “gutsy” and he scored the winning point in the Team USA’s victory in the Presidents Cup in 2017. The 26-year-old is from the superstar high school class of 2011 which featured teammates Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas.

Berger went quiet after his debut for Team USA in 2017 but came back firing after the COVID restart, winning two PGA Tour titles and rising to 16th in the world rankings. Here is a man that can do everything well and hits a stock fade which is reliable in windy conditions.

Top point scorers

Xander Schauffele scored three points and played all five matches in the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne in 2019. I am sure he will play foursomes and will likely get a chance at the fourball if needed. He is going to play a minimum of three matches, which will give him plenty of opportunities to rack the points up. My prediction is that he will play with Patrick Cantlay and/or Colin Morikawa; both of whom are great competitors.

Xander is a fierce competitor who plays like an underdog with something to prove, and he did just that by winning the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. He’s a player who’d provide good value as the top American points scorer.

Rory McIlroy has played five Ryder Cups and only been on the losing side once; however, even in that losing year, he won three out of five points. His record around the course is respectable, finishing 17th in 2015 and T3 in 2010. By Rory’s standards, he has had a quiet year, so it would be great to see him shine in the Ryder Cup.

Odds subject to change

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