Brooks Koepka started his first round well before having an absolute shocker from then on. I’m not sure what was up with him but the price was still wrong for me. His form looks a little worrying for the US team though as he was spraying it everywhere and he won’t get away with that at Le Golf National this week. Schauffele played well but came up 1 shot shy of the places.
In Europe all 4 picks took it in turn to get into contention on different days but all 4 also managed to finish at least one round with a double bogey. It was particularly annoying as they showed their suitability to the course the rest of the time but perhaps just got too greedy and aggressive at the wrong time.
On to Ryder Cup week though which isn’t always a fantastic betting event but you can normally find some fun bets to help add to the excitement of the best sporting event on the planet. Not a week for getting heavily involved stake wise.
2018 pts advised = 441
2018 pts returned = 413.18
ROI = – 6.3%
It’s always tricky to find an exciting or different betting angle for a Ryder Cup as there are only so many bets that can be had and lots of them are so obvious that nobody needs them pointed out! For starters Patrick Reed has played 2 Ryder Cups and he has top scored for the US team (3.5pts) on both occasions while coming 2nd in the overall points scoring. Ian Poulter has played 5 Ryder Cups and finished 1st (or 1st equal) in both the Europe and Overall markets on 3 of those. That’s quite a remarkable return even for a player who everyone knows to be a proper Ryder Cup legend. If we look at both their Ryder Cup win records then Poulter is 72.22% whereas Reed is on an even better mark of 77.78%. If we compare these with figures for other experienced Ryder Cuppers we can see how much they stand out. Excluding Koepka who has just played 1 event, the 13 players to have played in 2 or more events all post records between 16% and 63%. Even legends of the game like Woods (43.94%), Mickelson (47.78%) and McIlroy (57.89%) all teeter either side of the 50% mark. This can be taken lots of ways but to me it tells us what fine margins are involved in so many matches in this format and over time they can turn out to basically be a toss of a coin. But to put up numbers like Reed and Poulter it takes something a bit special and they are clearly at their best when lining up in this format. There is just something in their mentality that gives them that little bit extra when playing in match play. So despite Reed’s loss of form and Poulter’s advancing years we can still expect them to have good weeks, the only downside to perhaps betting on them is that they might not play enough matches. US have such an embarrassment of riches that should Reed not play well on Friday he might find himself only playing 3 matches whereas Poulter at 42 yrs old is unlikely to play more than 3 and certainly not 5. This means backing them in either the team market or overall market puts us potentially on the back foot from the word go.
Normally it would make sense to try to decide which players you think might feature in all 5 games. Looking back at the last 8 events, the top European points scorer has played 5 matches on 6 occasions with the other 2 having played 4 matches (one of those years was Celtic Manor where 4 was the maximum due to weather). The US top scorer has played in 5 matches on 4 occasions with the other 4 having played in just 4. Together that gives us 10/16 having played 5 matches but this improves to 12/16 having played the maximum number when we factor in Celtic Manor.
The top overall points scorer market is interesting as it has gone to a European in 7 of the last 8 events while the other one was a tie. You could look at that one of two ways; assume a US player is due the win or decide to stick with what looks to be a fairly solid trend.
With the overall quality improving almost every year and the 2018 event looking like the strongest ever on paper, it doesn’t look as necessary this year for the captains to have to play any of the big guns in 5 matches. However that is offset somewhat by the number of rookies playing; 5 in Team Europe and 3 in Team US. The picture is no less muddy!
This is basically all just a long-winded way of me saying that we want to be picking proven match play exponents who are highly likely to play a minimum of 4 matches. Again, this is quite obvious so a lot of the process in finding who that might be depends on who we think the captains will play together and who is suited to the fiddly Le Golf National course.
With Reed and Poulter looking up against it I’ve tried to think of a player who most fits their sort of determined mentality, has a good all-round game and can produce clutch short game magic when required. Tyrrell Hatton has a match play record of 71% and while all the team matches have been in low-grade events he has played in 2 WGC Match Play events and boasts a 57% record there. Thomas Pieters landed the spoils as a rookie at Hazeltine with 4 points from 5 and while Hatton isn’t as visually impressive as the Belgian you would be hard pushed to suggest he wasn’t as good a player. Hatton is a brutally good putter and if he can find the pace of the slower greens on Friday he might just hit the ground running like Reed did at Gleneagles on his debut. He has won the Alfred Dunhill Links the last two years and they always feature softer, slower links greens in October so despite him preferring slick, perfect greens I expect him to handle these without much fuss.
With him being a rookie there is a strong chance he will only play 3 or 4 matches but you would have said the same about Pieters until he forged his partnership with McIlroy. It looks like Hatton will probably be paired with Poulter and they could be a formidable pairing, thriving off each other’s energy. The other possibility for me is Tommy Fleetwood but it would be quite bold to stick 2 rookies together. Either way I think he looks over priced in both the Top European and Overall markets so I’m going to have a small interest on both. This could all come crumbling down early on Friday if he misses the morning session but I think his odds more than reflect that so I’m happy to take a chance that he is given enough matches to allow the bets to at least have a run.
While Sergio Garcia is undoubtedly a huge presence in the team off the course there is no way he was picked just for that. Garcia is a foursomes dream and especially on a course like Le Golf National where the fairway has to be found. Garcia shot the lowest round since 2010 there when he fired a Saturday 64 just 3 months ago. Garcia has a 70% foursomes record and his 61% in the fourballs isn’t too shabby either. With 5 rookies on the team I wouldn’t be surprised to see Garcia given the chance to play his way into the event on Friday morning in the first session. He will be a perfect partner for any rookie and boasts 3 1/2 points from 5 in RC team matches when playing with a rookie. If we are going on the practice groups then he may well play with Alex Noren and that could be a dream combo around LGN with Noren a former winner and his often deadly putting would compliment Garcia’s long game assurance. Of course he might play terribly on Friday and sit out Saturday completely but you can often throw the form book out the window at the Ryder Cup especially where a relentless ball striker like Garcia is concerned and I think he is a little over priced in the Top European market at 12/1.
I’m keen for a top US play but I’m struggling with anything beyond the obvious and there doesn’t appear to be any clear value to me. Rickie Fowler might just be about the best bet though when we consider all the factors. He keeps the ball in play more than many of his team mates and he has multiple pairing options given his popularity and all-round game. He played well enough at the Tour Championship and I think he will be looking to sign off a disappointing season in style. Fowler doesn’t have the best of records to date in the Ryder Cup (40.9%) but I think that could change this week. He should play 4 of the matches and that gives him a decent chance should he get off to a good start on Friday.
Looking at the Ryder Cup Outright market itself it’s not a market that I would want to get terribly involved in as you are working with very short prices on something that is almost a coin flip. That would definitely have me leaning to Europe at 2.38 on Betfair and I may yet get involved if they go north towards 2.50 but it’s not something to be particularly confident about. I think the course suitability for Europe negates the stronger US team and I’m expecting a very tight event again. While Europe have won 10 of the matches to US’ 8 matches (with 1 tie) they are usually tight affairs. In 10 of the 19 matches neither team has scored more than 15 points and if we total up the points since it became Europe v USA then the competitive nature of the event is only highlighted further as Europe lead by just 269 to 263. I’m definitely getting the draw onside and if last week had been a bit more succesful I’d maybe have had 3 or 4 attempts at the score but I don’t really want to be backing against Europe so I’ll take the 14.5-13.5 score line in Europe’s favour too. I’ll be backing both these on the exchange hoping that a tight affair allows some trading out options.
I’ll finish with a fun requestabet that looks like it could have some legs. Skybet priced the following up at 13/2 for me and there’s a lot to like about that price.
Europe +2.5, Hatton Over 1.5pts, Watson Under 1.5pts, Rose Over 2.5pts.
Europe will just need 13 pts for the handicap part to land while we have covered Hatton already. Everything about the combination Le Golf National and Bubba Watson looks uncomfortable and that was the case when he played there some 5 years ago as he missed the cut in angry fashion. With him arriving in poor form I’d expect him to play no more than 3 matches and with a miserable Ryder Cup singles record of 0 wins from 3 he will up against it to get more than 1 point. Conversely Rose arrives as the hottest player in world golf and will surely play 5 matches. Throw in his 63% RC record and he looks likely to pick up at least 3 points which he has done on 3 of his 4 Ryder Cup appearances to date.
There is definitely a case to be made for betting the top player markets win only to avoid having two bets go wrong on day one. That is how I’ve done it in the past but this year I’ve swayed on the side of each way given they are all bigger than 10/1.
Summary of bets
Tyrrell Hatton – Top European – 1.25pt ew @ 28/1 (1/4 odds 3 places Skybet)
Tyrrell Hatton – Top Overall – 0.75pt ew @ 50/1 (1/4 odds 4 places)
Sergio Garcia – Top European – 1pt ew @ 12/1 (1/4 odds 3 places)
Rickie Fowler – Top US – 1.25pt ew @ 11/1 (1/4 odds 3 places)
Europe 14-14 US – 1pt @ 13.0 (Betfair Exchange)
Europe 14.5-13.5 – 1pt @ 12.5 (Betfair Exchange)
Above Requestabet – 1.5pt @ 13/2
Weekly points advised = 12pts