As said previously, there is formula to finding the Ryder Cup’s most successful players in a betting sense and the most important category tends to be matches played. Only 2 of the top pointscorers in the last decade didn’t play a full 12 matches and the other two played 10.
Her are the opening fourballs;
Justin Rose & Henrik Stenson v Bubba Watson & Webb Simpson
Thomas Bjorn & Martin Kaymer v Rickie Fowler & Jimmy Walker
Stephen Gallacher & Ian Poulter v Jordan Spieth & Patrick Reed
Sergio Garcia & Rory McIlroy v Keegan Bradley & Phil Mickelson
Of those, the candidates for four more matches are obvious; Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickleson regularly practice together, have a fine relationship, and an excellent record together, taking 3 points at Medinah and 2.5 points in the Presidents’ Cup when playing together.
The other is favourite Rickie Fowler, who will take a huge amount of beating. Folwer has played just the one Ryder Cup in 2010 but arrived a rookie of raw potential and now, under the wing of Butch Harmon, is a seasoned pro who has finished in the top 10 for all four majors, finishing runner up at the US Open and The Open at Hoylake especially, Eighth in Scotland the week before, he plays the wind extremely well, has thrived on a soft course setup (Valhalla) and has a fine links record at the highest level which bodes well for the course setup; Playing alongside Jimmy Walker (another Harmon disciple) or foursomes should bring out the best in him.
It is tempting to back Phil, but apart from some bold showings in majors he has consistently struggled with his injuries and his putting, not to mention some erratic driving, and while form isn’t everything, Bradley has struggled since finishing fourth in the Bridgestone Invitational; Playing against McIlroy and Garcia is also not an ideal start for the pair.
It would be a surprise to see Patick Reed get all 5 games, and while Speith is an outsider for a full house this is his debut and it would be a surprise to see him given a full set.
Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson have to be strongly considered. The pair combined for 2 fourball triumphs at Medinah and 3 in the previous year’s Presidents Cup, so will be together again, and look strong candidates for a full set of matches.
Watson’s monster driving can be a big advantage around this course, but his temperament is vital. If he stays in control then points are likely, but if not then waywardness can be expected; However, he should be calmed by the influence of Simpson in the team game, and all four of the players to beat him in his last matchplay tournaments have either gone to the final, or gone onto land the whole event themselves. His Celtic manor experience should be a big help here and his second Masters win was gained with a great degree of maturity, suggesting that he is at least worth chancing in a degree of markets.
Before the draw was made, I had backed Hunter Mahan and Matt Kuchar for this and the combined awards. Kuchar top scored for the US in 2008 at Valhalla, going on a long way to earning him a wildcard here; Mahan’s career singles record reads 21-9-1, and he has a fine matchplay record in general – so it was surprising that he missed out on Medinah and he can make amends.
1 pt each/way Rickie Fowler top combined pointscorer (12/1 general)
1 pt each/way Bubba Watson top American pointscorer (22/1 Stan James)
0.5 pts each/way Hunter Mahan top American pointscorer (16/1 general)
0.5 pts each/way Matt Kuchar top American pointscorer (11/1 Boylesports)
0.5 pts each/way Hunter Mahan top Combined pointscorer (35/1 general)
0.5 pts each/way Matt Kuchar top Combined pointscorer (28/1 Boylesports)