A long and entertaining season on the PGA Tour has been building up to the 42nd Ryder Cup which begins this Friday on the Albatross Course at Le Golf National.
The United States are the defending champions and favorites to retain their trophy but Jim Furyk’s side will have to overcome a long winless streak on European soil in order to convert.
Europe’s Captain Thomas Bjorn balanced his talented qualifiers with experienced wildcards so let’s get straight on and assess the strengths of the two teams before making our 2018 Ryder Cup predictions and picks.
While the result betting market is a fairly tight one, Europe go into the tournament as the outside bet to win at +145 with Bovada. It was interesting to see Captain Thomas Bjorn go for experience in his wildcard picks and presumably that was done in order to combat a strong American side.
To an extent, form was discarded and that was certainly the case with Sergio Garcia who will become the first Ryder Cup player on either side to have missed the cut in all four Majors. At the same time, Sergio could overtake Nick Faldo during the 2018 competition to become Europe’s highest ever points winner so it’s easy to see Bjorn’s thinking.
Europe’s other wildcard picks are Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson while Paul Casey will be very familiar to US golf fans as a man who plays the majority of his golf Stateside.
Of those players who qualified automatically, Justin Rose has recently climbed to the top of the World Rankings while Tommy Fleetwood has had a competent, if unspectacular season on the PGA Tour. Current Open Champion Francesco Molinari makes the squad but Bjorn’s additional picks hinted at a concern for the amount of rookies in the team. Of the 12 European players taking part, five are appearing at the Ryder Cup for the very first time and all five qualified via the automatic points route.
In contrast to European selection, Captain Jim Furyk had such confidence in his side that he had the luxury of calling up two rookies among his four wildcards. Form was the key as Tony Finau and Bryson Dechambeau took their places in the team alongside additional captain’s picks Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods.
Of those who made it through via automatic qualification, only Justin Thomas is making his Ryder Cup debut and as a former Major winner there will be no concerns over his contribution. Also taking their place in the squad are Brooks Koepka and Patrick Reed who claimed three of the four Major Championships in 2018 while Bubba Watson has taken three tournaments on Tour this year.
It is arguably the best team that the US has ever taken to a Ryder Cup and they are favorites at -135 with Bovada (it is +1100 for a tie) even though the trends don’t necessarily back them up.
Ryder Cup Picks, Course Trends & Betting Predictions Verdict
The United States haven’t won the Ryder Cup on European soil since 1993 and they have lost eight of the 11 tournaments to have taken place since. The US come into this event with a lower average World Ranking but that hasn’t been a factor in recent years. Carrying rookies can, however, be an issue.
Europe went into the Hazeltine contest in 2016 with six Ryder Cup debutants and Justin Rose claimed that was too much after the event. This year, Europe have trimmed down slightly to five but in the last 10 Ryder Cups, the team with the most rookies has won just four.
Trends come down slightly in favor of the Europeans but what about the course? The Albatross at Le Golf National has been used for the Open De France since 1991 and seven of the 12 European team members played this event in 2018, including the eventual winner Alex Noren.
It is a par 72 with good length at over 7,300 yards so the big hitters will gain some advantage at the longer holes. There is water in play on many holes and there are hard and fast greens that require a bump and run approach that is more akin to links golf.
Overall, while the United States have failed to work as a team in the past, that wasn’t the case two years ago at Hazeltine and we don’t think it will be a factor again this time around. If the US win odds look a little short with the American-facing sports betting outlets, then Intertops have some interesting prop bets. Based on his current form and the theory that he will feature heavily on the first two days, Tiger Woods to score most American points looks a value wager at a generous price.
So these are the 2018 Ryder Cup predictions and picks for this preview: