Tournament: The Ryder Cup
Dates: September 28-30, 2012
Course: Medinah Country Club
By Evergreen of Predictem.com
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The fall most certainly belong to football every year but golf fans look forward to the fall at least every other year for the Ryder Cup. The 2012 edition of the biennial competition between American and European PGA players could be one of the most star-studded events in Cup history as Tiger and Phil lead the U.S. team against a Euro squad led by Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood. Eight fourball, eight foursomes and twelve singles matches make up the competition and the Americans must earn 14.5 points to take the Cup back.
The European side has had the better of it over the last several years with six overall victories in the last eight Ryder Cups. The Americans have won at Brookline in 1999 and at Valhalla in 2008 and will look to use the home crowd to their favor again. Medinah Country Club will host the matches this year and much has been made of what impact Tiger will have on the U.S. teams chances. Woods won the 1999 U.S. Open and the 2006 PGA Championship, both at Medinah, so he is certainly in comfortable surroundings. Despite the recent success for the Europeans and having what appears to be a stronger team overall, it is the U.S. side that is the favorite to win with Bovada listing the American team at -140 and the Euros at +115.
Match play is always tough to predict and team match play can make picking winners verge on the impossible but the golf sportsbooks have plenty of prop bets so you dont have to focus specifically on who wins a match. You can find action on what player from each side will score the most points, or who will hole the putt that decides the cup or even predict the final score. Once the captains make their pairings and the matchups are announced, look for all kinds of bets that focus on each match and dont forget that matches can be halved, so look for that to be a potentially profitable bet along the way.
You dont need to overanalyze the course in match play scenario because players will be approaching things much differently than they normally would in a stroke play event. That being said, Medinah CC is extremely long by everyday standards with the par-72 course having the ability to play at nearly 7,700 yards. The par-3 holes are all capable of playing 200+ yards and two par-5s will likely play over 600 yards. If the weather cooperates, there wont be much trouble for the players to negotiate the overall length but a couple of windy days or some rain could put the pressure on the players.
Looking at what Davis Love III has at his disposal, he can certainly lean some experienced Ryder Cup veterans like Tiger, Phil, Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker but his challenge will come in finding the right partner for players like Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson, who will be valuable for their length but could prove tough partners in some cases as many potential teammates simply do not play that style of golf. Jose Maria Olazabal has an extremely talented overall group with Sergio Garcia definitely the most decorated of his Ryder Cup veterans. McIlroy, Westwood and Donald have taken turns at the top of the rankings in recent years but players like Nicolas Colsaerts and Peter Hanson that really give this team tremendous depth and make every pairing a formidable one. Martin Kaymer is really the only player on the European team that isnt having a ton of success right now but one man will not pose a great threat to derail either side.
If Tiger really has Medinah figured out more than everyone else, look for him to be tough to beat in any format and could very likely pair with Steve Stricker to form a team that would have all the bases covered from tee to green. Ian Poulter, Justin Rose and Franceso Molinari are Europes best bets to be the top individual point earners and give Olazabal a lot of flexibility to make marquee pairing with some bigger names or bring along some lesser ones and still have a chance to get a point.
My birds eye view gives the American team a small advantage when taking into account each players individual strengths. The driver length is there to handle Medinah but there are also players like Furyk and Zach Johnson that can make their way around with solid wedge games and good putting. Europe has the advantage in team golf and always seem to play bigger than their individual statistics and even the bottom of the Euro team is full is made of up very strong overall talents. I see the Americans with a small edge in total driving and clutch putting but the Euros are effectively longer as a team and likely the better putters overall, so that all ends in a net push. The U.S. has an odd combination of bravado with a Watson and Mickelson but also a cool temper with a Matt Kuchar and Jason Dufner. The Euros answer back with Ryder Cup confidence and tremendous heart so the intangibles even out as well.
So what remains? I think the Americans get this done with their play into
the greens. The Euros are adept there as well but looking at the U.S. side
reveals some of the best ballstrikers on Tour and Tiger is right there leading
the way with his play this year. Mickelson needs a good week with the putter
and Keegan Bradley or Brandt Snedeker need to play like they have when they
won events this year but I think the home crowd spurs them to do so and
the U.S. goes on to a 15-13 win. I like Jason Dufner and Matt Kuchar to
potentially lead the Americans in points won with Poulter and Molinari to
lead the Euro side.