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Two years ago, in the wake of Team USA’s emphatic 19-9 drubbing of the Europeans, it seemed certain that we were entering a new Ryder Cup era.
Up to and including the 1983 match the Americans has been triumphant in 21 of the 25 matches. But since then the Europeans have been victorious in 11 of 17.
The American outfit at Whistling Straits was a largely young team of big hitters and brilliant putters, not to mention they defeated a European team that was old, tired, and past its best – this is why it seemed we were on the brink of a new period of dominance for the United States.
But LIV Golf started a change.
True, Brooks Koepka plays the U.S. this week but his fellow LIV golfers Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, and Patrick Reed don’t.
Meanwhile, Europe’s veterans have joined LIV and with it the continent has been freshened by the presence of potential stars.
The gap between the two teams has closed. Rome looks set to be another Ryder Cup Classic.
|Winner and Score
Whistling Straits, Wisconsin
Le Golf National, France
Celtic Manor, Wales
The K Club, Ireland
Oakland Hills, Michigan
The Belfry, England
Ahead of the 2021 match, the Europeans had been in the ascendancy for some time, winning seven of the first nine matches in the 21st century. A golden generation, including Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, and Ian Poulter, had fuelled this dominance but Whistling Straits was largely a Ryder Cup too far for them. Since then, most of those stars have joined LIV and became ineligible for the team but they may not have played anyway. The team now includes young stars Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Aberg plus Cup veterans Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood.
The American’s winning score of 19-9 two years was a record and afterward many thought it would be a very long time before the European won again. But since then Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, and Bryson DeChambeau have joined LIV and not played to a standard high enough to demand inclusion - unlike Brooks Koepka. Those losses, plus the surprise major wins of Wyndham Clark and Brian Harman, have resulted in a line-up that many consider to be inferior to 2021.
There have been just two ties in the 43 matches.
With the odds on offer, Europe makes the most compelling option in the match result.
U.S. captain Zach Johnson has picked Sam Burns who struggled in last year’s Presidents Cup, Justin Thomas on reputation and the unlikely pair of Brian Harman and Wyndham Clark qualified by right.
All four have their qualities but they are also potential weaknesses in the line-up.
The Europeans have Viktor Hovland flying high, might have unearthed a gem in Ludvig Aberg and history is on their side.
They’ve won the last six times at home and home teams have won 10 of the last 12 matches.
Back Europe at +125 with DraftKings.
Englishman Tommy Fleetwood was superb on debut in 2018, winning four of five matches and he was similarly impressive in Europe’s warm-up Hero Cup in January winning three of four.
He was in poor form two years ago and could only manage two halves and one defeat, but he is in much better condition this year and can once again be an on-the-course leader of his team.
He’ll be a popular partner - everyone loves him - and can be backed at +650 with Caesars Sportsbook to be Europe’s top points scorer.
Thomas and Jordan Spieth have been a formidable partnership in the past but they might not be suited by the Marco Simone test.
Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay have also been superb when paired together.
They’ve won six of their nine Presidents and Ryder Cup matches and are both magnificent drivers of the ball.
Schauffele edges it based on his often-stated fondness for playing in Europe (his father is German).
He can be backed at +600 with bet365 to top score for Team USA.
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Matt Cooper has been a sports journalist since 2009 with his work appearing at ESPN, Sky Sports, NBC, Sporting Life and the Planet Sport Network among many others, in addition to guest appearances on the BBC and CNN. Although a specialist in golf, who has traveled the world to cover the sport, Matt has also covered rugby, cricket, football and the Olympics. Email: [email protected]More info on Matt Cooper
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