The betting forecasters predicting the winners of the 42nd Ryder Cup are split on who is this year’s favourite – most American bookmakers and several in the UK favour a second consecutive US win, some by quite a large margin, but there are still some bookies predicting that Europe will edge a victory.
Despite the US not winning an away match since Tom Watson’s first captaincy attempt at The Belfry in 1993, Jim Furyk’s team is being made around a 4/5 on favourite, according to OddsShark.com. Typical European odds come from Oddschecker which has the home team as 6/4 favourites with a 14-14 tie at 12/1
Of course, gambling is a lot more sophisticated these days with live betting on any sporting event becoming increasingly popular and placing bets during the foursomes, fourballs and singles matches will again be available on many websites this year.
However, another well-liked bet is on the highest scorer in the match itself or on each team. UK firm Betway has former world No 1 Dustin Johnson as the 8/1 favourite to be the top points scorer overall, but many other firms are looking at Patrick Reed to be the US top dog at the same odds. Their teammate and two-time major winner this year Brooks Koepka is next at 9/1, while the man generally regarded as the hottest golfer on the planet right now, Bryson Dechambeau, is 11/1.
However, Tiger Woods’ epic play in the FedEx Cup final has prompted a slew of money on the Californian to blitz the field and his odds will dip, for sure, as the match approaches.
For Europe, the newly crowned world No 1, Justin Rose is the shortest-priced European to be top scorer at 10/1 with Rory McIlroy at 11/1. Meanwhile, it’s hard to look past major champion Justin Thomas for a bet on which rookie on either team will score the most points.
Other fun bets include the final score, something that the betting firms used to worry about a couple of decades ago when singles matches out on the course on the final day were ‘called’ when the overall result was known. Nowadays, each individual singles game has to come to a proper finish, a protocol that was introduced partly to pacify the gambling community as well as the TV broadcasters.
Betting on the Ryder Cup only really came into its own at the start of the 1990s, basically at the time when the matches had become proper contests (not like the one-sided affairs of decades earlier) and when TV stations like Sky Sports in the UK started to broadcast every minute of the matches. But, considering this is only a two-team contest, the pre-match odds makers have a far from perfect record.
For almost a decade and a half, starting in 1991, the bookies were almost as often wrong as they were right in predicting a winner. The supposed favourites lost in 1995 and 1997 (the US at Oak Hills and Valderrama)); 2002 and 2004 (the US again at The Belfry and Oakland Hills) and 2008 (Europe under Nick Faldo at Valhalla). In fact, by 2012 at Medinah, the forecasters were so flummoxed that both sides were even money to win.
The last two matches – Gleneagles and Hazeltine – were another hit-and-miss story: Europe were favourites both times yet won relatively easily in Scotland in 2014 only to lose by around the same margin two years ago. But be careful of accepting predictions from betting firms because they are largely based on one expert’s feelings for a match that contains 24 of the best players in the world who could win or lose to each other by the smallest of margins on any given day. For example, Betfair had Danny Willett as favourite to be the top scoring rookie in 2016 and also the European most likely to win his team the most points. In fact, that year’s Masters champion had a thoroughly awful time in Hazeltine and came home pointless.
Editor’s note: the odds quoted in this story may have changed and also please gambling safely.