Golf

2023 Ryder Cup Preview: Can the US break the Home Winner Cycle?

September 27, 2023

The 44th Ryder Cup tees off early Friday morning in Rome, Italy for those living on U.S. Eastern time. It’s not the typical format for a golf tournament, as 12 players apiece from the United States and Europe square off for national and regional glory.

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The style of golf is also unique given the team nature of the competition. On the first two days, we have four-ball and foursome matches. In four-ball, there are two players from each team that play their own ball throughout a round.

The lowest score between the two players from each team on each hole counts for scoring purposes. In foursomes, the team members alternate hitting shots until the ball is holed.

Finally, on Sunday, there are 12 one-on-one matches.

As for scoring, each match is worth one point with 28 total matches. In the event of a tie, each side is awarded 0.5 points. As is implied, the first team to reach 14.5 points is declared the winner. Should there be a 14-14 tie, the previous winner would retain the trophy. In this case, that’s the United States.

Many golf fans would have already been familiar with the format, but the names of the participants look quite different than recent editions of the competition and also quite different than what was expected in the leadup to the tournament.

Both the United States and Europe have opted to largely keep LIV golfers out of the fold, with Brooks Koepka being the only exception. Dustin Johnson and Patrick Reed are the notable absences on the American side, while Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia aren’t on the European roster.

The U.S. Roster includes: Scottie Scheffler, Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay, Max Homa, Collin Morikawa, Rickie Fowler, Wyndham Clark, Brian Harman, Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka, Sam Burns and Justin Thomas.

Their European counterparts are: Rory McIlroy, Viktor Hovland, Jon Rahm, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Matt Fitzpatrick, Ludvig Aberg, Justin Rose, Shane Lowry, Sepp Straka, Nicolai Hojgaard and Robert MacIntyre.

Team Overview

As mentioned, the event will take place at the Marco Simone course in Italy. The course was designed in 1989 and doesn’t possess any particularly unique features, though it is a relatively short course with narrow fairways and thick roughs. That leaves accuracy over distance as the key to conquering the course.

In terms of the actual competition, Europe has dominated recently. Since 2002, it has come out on top seven times and the United States only three times. Things have evened out since 2014 though, as the series is tied 2-2 in that time frame.

Heading into 2023, the composition of the teams provides an immediate juxtaposition. Both teams boast top-end talent, but Europe stands out in that regard with McIllroy, Rahm and Hovland, who rank second, third and fourth respectively in the current World Rankings.

Of that trio, McIllroy and Hovland should be particularly well-suited for the course given their accuracy of the tee, as they rank second and seventh in shots gained off the tee, also known as driving accuracy. Hatton also ranks 13th in the metric.

Overall, the Europeans appear well suited for the course. Add on the fact that both Hojgaard and MacIntyre have won tournaments on the exact course before, and the Europeans are set up well.

The Americans certainly don’t lack elite talent. They have six of the top 10 golfers in the World Rankings, the majority of which rank in the back half of that range. In other words, they match Europe’s top-heavy team with a well-rounded roster that doesn’t have a clear weakness based on all-around talent.

The biggest question is how the golfers’ strengths fit the course. Familiarity is the obvious factor as the Americans simply lack it relative to the Europeans. The other is skillset. Unlike their counterparts, much of the defending champs’ roster is based on power and less on accuracy, as only Scheffler, Cantlay and Morikawa rank inside the top 45 in accuracy off the tee.

The Picks

Host location has been a key factor in determining recent winners, as the sides have alternated victory based on “homefield advantage” the last four editions of the competition. On overall talent, the United States arguably has a slight advantage, which should keep them in the conversation and make this a tight competition, but the Europeans rule in familiarity and course fit based on play style.

That’s reflected in the Tipico odds, as Europe is the slight favorite (-107) to reclaim the trophy. Siding with the favorite makes sense. For those trying to get a little more daring, we should expect this to stay close due to the overall talent on both sides of the rosters. A 14.5-13.5 (+950) would make sense, as does 15-13 (+1000).

Another interesting possibility comes from the Boosts currently being offered. If you believe the USA will win, grab the special odds, which have increased from +100 to +125.

Another choice is to bet on the “Roman Holiday,” which means betting that either Scheffler or Schauffele are the top scorers for the U.S. at +250. Given Scheffler’s status as the top player in the world and boasting the top driver accuracy, he appears to have a decent chance to deliver victory on that wager.

A few “Top Player” picks also intrigue when considering the top rookie players for each side. Max Homa (+170) blends overall world rank with specific skillset as compared to his peers in the category, and he has the shortest odds as a result.

As for the European side, Hojgaard’s (+285) strong history at the course makes him an intriguing pick.

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