It's finally here! The 2021 Ryder Cup begins with a quartet of foursomes matches and Paul Krishnamurty begins three days of tipping with a look at the first session...
"Given their poor overall record, it may be a surprise to learn that USA haven't trailed an opening session since 2006. As with the match, they start clear favourites for this session but I'm really not convinced by odds of 2.111/10."
Absolutely nobody is surprised to see Thomas and Spieth re-united, or leading from the front. These childhood friends were a very rare bright spot in the US defeat at Le Golf National, winning three matches from four, including their opener. Their one defeat did come in foursomes, though, and I'd consider them much more vulnerable in this format, due to the frequently erratic Spieth.
Likewise it makes sense for Rahm to lead the European effort, but he didn't play foursomes in 2018. In Garcia, he has the perfect partner for this format. Sergio's record in Ryder Cup foursomes is a remarkable 11.5 points from a possible 17. The betting is basically tied and that is hard to dispute. I'm sitting on this particular fence.
Again the US pairing is no surprise, but it is something of a gamble. Morikawa's accurate game is made for foursomes but he's a debutant, partnering a persistent failure in pairs formats. Johnson has only won one point from four attempts in foursomes.
Hovland is Europe's star debutant too, and it really is essential to their chances that he starts well and keeps his place for the afternoon. I'm very positive about this pairing, as both have very reliable long games. As outsiders in the betting, they are preferred.
On paper, using strokeplay as a guide, USA have an edge. If there's a weak link in either side, it is the ageing and relatively out of form Westwood, while Fitzpatrick lost both previous Ryder Cup matches. On the plus side, both are have very accurate long games, so may be well win holes by avoiding mistakes.
However the US pairing went to college together, enjoy playing together and both look extremely strong. I like Berger a lot as a dark horse this week. Their supremacy is reflected by odds of 1.855/6 for the match.
This is a gamble from Padraig Harrington. I'm very surprised to see neither Shane Lowry or Tommy Fleetwood out in the morning and suspect we will look back on that as a mistake.
Finally an irresistible match-up, involving two pairings with plenty of experience together. The Americans are both debutants but won both their foursome matches at the 2019 Presidents Cup. McIlroy and Poulter have paired four times in the Ryder Cup, twice in each format, winning 2.5 points from four.
Without questioning Cantlay or Schauffele, my very marginal preference here is for the Europeans. That they are clear outsiders at an appealing 2.6613/8 seals the deal. Here you have two team leaders who know each other well, and the importance of winning this point. I can't recall betting against Poulter in matchplay, ever, and am really positive about McIlroy this week.
Europe rate decent value for the morning session
Given their poor overall record, it may be a surprise to learn that USA haven't trailed an opening session since 2006. As with the match, they start clear favourites for this session but I'm really not convinced by odds of 2.111/10. The only game where I'd be particularly confident about the Americans is the Koepka/Berger tie and am backing that single accordingly.
The conventional wisdom says that Europe are better at team golf, and in particular foursomes, where team rather than individual dynamics come to the fore. Getting a tie or better out of this session is well within Europe's compass and a narrow 2.5-1.5 win is nicely priced too.
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