Paul Krishnamurty weighs the pros and cons of a strong USA line-up, making the case for a couple of players ideally suited to this matchplay format...
"Kuchar's World Matchplay record suggests he's better at this format than strokeplay, and his style strikes me as perfect for pairs golf. Ideally accurate for foursomes and full of birdies, which is the key to fourballs."
Besides home advantage, there is a simple explanation for the USA starting as [1.65] favourites, despite losing eight of the last ten Ryder Cups. Their team is unarguably superior on paper and more experienced. That has significant implications for betting on their top scorer market.
Throughout the five rounds, there are 44 places to fill in either pairs or singles. Whereas Team Europe, including six debutants, will surely rely upon the other six to fill the bulk of those spots, US captain Davis Love has an embarrassment of riches at his disposal. He could quite easily spread the workload so nobody need play all five rounds.
In theory, two thirds of the team could play four rounds which, as explained in my Ryder Cup strategy piece, is a pre-requisite to winning this market. It isn't that easy to identify the quartet that will definitely play fewer than four either.
My educated guess is that debutant Brooks Koepka (who has had injury troubles), ageing Phil Mickelson, short-hitting Zach Johnson and Brandt Snedeker are likeliest to miss out. I'll also exclude JB Holmes (best saved for fourballs), leaving seven to consider.
Of those, the likeliest to play all five are Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth. However that is reflected in their odds so I'd rather go with another top-line candidate.
Patrick Reed top-scored for the USA on debut at Gleneagles, forming a superb partnership with Spieth. If they're paired again, he must be better value at a couple of points bigger. As I've argued when profiling the team, this gutsy, in-form player looks tailor-made for the matchplay experience. I'm also backing Reed for Top Overall Scorer.
The remaining four are hard to split. Rickie Fowler has a terrible record in matchplay for reasons that totally escape me. That is reflected by bigger odds than one would expect and I can see Steve Rawlings' logic in backing him. In-form Ryan Moore looks the right type for matchplay, but his lack of preparation here is off-putting.
Jimmy Walker is very tempting at [21.0]. I think, like Holmes, he's best saved for fourballs though and may not have the accuracy for foursomes.
Instead, I'll opt for a true matchplay specialist Matt Kuchar to improve on a surprisingly ordinary Ryder Cup record. His World Matchplay record suggests he's better at this format than strokeplay, and his style strikes me as perfect for pairs golf. Ideally accurate for foursomes and full of birdies, which is the key to fourballs.
You've read about the US, now get the lowdown on the the Top European Betting!