The Ryder Cup finally returns this week as Team Europe face an imposing challenge to defend the trophy on away soil at Whistling Straits.
In what promises to be a raucous and partisan atmosphere, with very few Europeans making up what’s expected to be crowds of around 40,000 people, Team USA are confident of avenging their damaging loss at Le Golf National in 2018, which drew the curtain on Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson’s disappointing records at the tournament.
It is very much a new-look US team who will take to the Straits Course, but they are far from as inexperienced as that name suggests. Collin Morikawa is already a two-time major champion, Xander Schauffele is an Olympic champion and perennial contender at the majors, while Patrick Cantlay is coming off the biggest win of his career at the PGA Tour’s season-ending Tour Championship.
World rankings have not always guaranteed results, though, and Padraig Harrington will hope to lean heavily on experience, with Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Paul Casey and Rory McIlroy veterans of the competition at this point, while no player in this generation is so synonymous with the event as Ian Poulter. Europe can also rely on the world No 1, Jon Rahm, whose form has been spectacular throughout the year, even if they remain underdogs with the bookmakers.
Here are the odds and our picks ahead of the first tee-off on Friday morning:
Team USA – 1/2: There has been plenty of focus on the animosity and indifference within the American team, but it is impossible to dispute their quality. Just as Le Golf National’s tight fairways were set up to suit European players, Whistling Straits will best reward driving distance. That is something the US hardly lack and, although the world rankings don’t always dictate the result, they have the form player in Patrick Cantlay, a formidable pairing of Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, and proven multiple major winners. Add to that, an extremely one-sided crowd owing to the difficulty for Europeans to travel to the US and it will take a special effort for Europe to overcome the odds.
Team Europe – 9/4.
Draw – 12/1.
Top combined points scorer
Jon Rahm – 15/2: He is the No 1 player in the world and has a game that suits Whistling Straits perfectly. The Spaniard defeated Tiger Woods in the singles in 2018 but found little success partnering Justin Rose and Ian Poulter in the fourballs. He has suffered from a stomach bug and missed the cut last week, raising doubt about his form, but should play in all five sessions.
Justin Thomas – 10/1: The American has only played in one Ryder Cup, which feels bizarre considering how long he’s been firmly among the elite on the PGA Tour. In that appearance, though, despite Team USA losing convincingly overall, he amassed a formidable record of 4-1-0, playing in all five sessions, thriving alongside Jordan Spieth before defeating Rory McIlroy in the opening singles match on Sunday.
Jordan Spieth – 11/1: The 28-year-old has enjoyed a fantastic turnaround this year, even if he did appear to run out of steam in the FedEx Cup playoffs. He is likely to play in all five sessions as he did in 2018, reviving his fruitful partnership with Justin Thomas.
Patrick Cantlay – 11/1: The form player in the world right now, having closed out the PGA Tour season with back-to-back wins and a cheque for $15m. He is a rookie by name but not nature and showed his formidable calm under pressure in his six-hole playoff victory over Bryson DeChambeau at the BMW Championship.
Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth – 11/1; Xander Schauffele – 12/1; Bryson DeChambeau – 14/1.
Top American rookie
Xander Schauffele – 3/1: Cantlay’s recent form is hard to argue again, but Schauffele’s consistency over the past few years, particularly at the biggest events, is plain to see. Since 2017, he has nine top-10 finishes at the majors and won an Olympic gold medal in Japan this summer.
Patrick Cantlay -3/1; Collin Morikawa – 4/1; Scottie Scheffler – 9/2; Daneil Berger – 11/2; Harris English – 6/1.
Top American wildcard
Tony Finau – 9/2: An outside bet, with Spieth being the obvious choice, but Finau is in fine form after winning the Northern Trust just a few weeks ago and his booming drives will be a huge asset. He took two points from three matches in 2018, including a 6&4 drubbing of Tommy Fleetwood in the singles. There have been suggestions he may be paired with Bryson DeChambeau, though, which wields a certain degree of chaos.
Xander Schauffele – 3/1; Jordan Spieth – 3/1; Scottie Scheffler – 9/2; Daniel Berger – 11/2; Harris English – 6/1.
Top European rookie
Viktor Hovland – 5/6: The Norwegian has enjoyed a terrific breakthrough, winning twice on the PGA Tour last year as well as in Europe this summer. He sits just outside the top-10 in the world and, while he may not be the longest driver, still ranks highly for strokes gained off the tee, which will be key at Whistling Straits. Has been very consistent, even if not always in firm contention at the majors.
Shane Lowry – 9/4; Bernd Wiesberger – 4/1
Top European wildcard
Sergio Garcia – 3/2: It’s hard to make a case against the highest points scorer in the tournament’s history. Garcia took three out of four points in 2018, partnering Alex Noren and Rory McIlroy, before thrashing Rickie Folwer in the singles. The Spaniard has been in good form with a top-10 at the BMW Championship, which was backed up by a T14 at the Tour Championship. Could partner Tommy Fleetwood this year with Francesco Molinari absent.
Shane Lowry – 7/4; Ian Poulter – 15/8.