As explained in greater detail here, matchplay golf is a refined art and the business of weighing up which players to back or lay is very different from the strokeplay norm. In short, some players are suited by this format and enjoy it, others repeatedly struggle. There is a vast bank of form to study in this regard, from either individual or team matchplay events. It is this formbook, rather than this season's strokeplay evidence, that mainly lies behind the following selections.
Predictably, Tiger Woods is favourite to top-score for his country and, as always in this team format, represents atrocious value for two particular reasons. First he has never been dominant in matchplay and was regularly humbled by vastly inferior opponents even at his peak. More than anyone, Tiger's record proves the point that 18-hole matchplay is golf's greatest leveller.
The second reason is the format of these team competitions. Four out of five rounds are played in pairs so if Tiger wins a point, so will his partner. If he retains the same partner throughout - he is usually paired with Steve Stricker - they will be on the same total going into the final day singles, yet Stricker is available at three points bigger and must surely therefore rate superior value. As it happens, their pairing was so poor at the last Ryder Cup that I could see it being broken up this time and even if they're not, I'm happy to take them on.
Instead, I'm going for a couple of players who seem better at matchplay than strokeplay. At 12.011/1, Hunter Mahan is a blindingly obvious pick. He's won and finished runner-up in the last two World Matchplay renewals, a run that equates to 11 victories out of 12 and includes several prized scalps. He won four out of five points in the last Presidents Cup and has a better record than most of his compatriots in that other team competition where they usually struggle, the Ryder Cup.
While he has nowhere near the same experience and therefore long-term matchplay record, on the evidence of last year's Ryder Cup debut, Keegan Bradley is made for matchplay. Some players just seem to thrive in the ultra-competitive, head-to-head nature of matchplay, (Ian Poulter springs to mind). While I've often questioned Bradley's consistency and short odds in strokeplay, wary of over-reacting to a couple of big occasion victories, there can be no doubting the man's bottle and will to win. Furthermore the same argument regarding Stricker/Woods would apply if, as expected, Bradley resumes his successful pairing with Phil Mickelson. The younger man looks cracking value at 11.010/1, compared to Phil at 8.07/1.
Back Keegan Bradley @ 11.010/1
Back Hunter Mahan @ 12.011/1