Dave Tindall examines patterns in previous Ryder Cup to try and help dig out the best bets in Paris this week...
Who Will Play All 5 matches?
One of the obvious lines of enquiry when pondering a Top Scorer punt is to try and work out which players take part in every match? Are certain stars just undroppable even if they lost twice on day one? Here are those taking part this year who have played every match at some point during their Ryder Cup careers. Note: Due to bad weather, the maximum was four in 2010.
Sergio Garcia (1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2016)
Rory McIlroy (2010, 2012, 2014, 2016)
Justin Rose (2012, 2014, 2016)
Ian Poulter (2008)
Henrik Stenson (2016)
Patrick Reed (2016)
Jordan Spieth (2016)
Rickie Fowler (2014)
Tiger Woods (1997, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2010)
Phil Mickelson (2002, 2006, 2008, 2010)
Bubba Watson (2010)
Dustin Johnson (2010)
With more strength in depth most years, it's no surprise that American skippers usually spread the talent across the first two days. Tiger and Phil in their pomp were good for all five but no American played four times before the singles in 2012 and there were just two each who did in 2014 and 2016. Ignore 2010 as there were just three pre-singles sessions so the max was four. One of the other surprises is that Ian Poulter has been used in every session just once in his career!
Top Europe/USA points scorer in last 10 Ryder Cups
Not only was he the top European points scorer on debut in 2016, Thomas Pieters outscored everyone on the USA team too. So is there evidence that Europe often produces the top overall scorer?
2016 Thomas Pieters (4), Patrick Reed (3.5)
2014 Justin Rose (4), Patrick Reed (3.5)
2012 Ian Poulter (4), 5 x Americans (3)
2010 Ian Poulter, Luke Donald, Tiger Woods, Steve Stricker (3)
2008 Ian Poulter (4), Hunter Mahan (3.5)
2006 Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood (4), Tiger Woods (3)
2004 Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood (4.5), Chris DiMarco (2.5)
2002 Colin Montgomerie (4.5), David Toms (3.5)
1999 Sergio Garcia, Colin Montgomerie, Paul Lawrie, Jesper Parnevik, Hal Sutton (3.5)
1997 Colin Montgomerie (3.5), Scott Hoch (2.5)
That's some evidence! In the last 10 Ryder Cups, a European has finished top overall points scorer eight times and shared it with an American twice. In betting terms, it means it makes absolute sense to back a European in the overall points scorer market than to simply be top European.
Do World Rankings make a difference?
The American line-up from 2016 had an average world ranking of just 17.08. That was more than 10 less than the Europeans (27.33) and, on paper, the USA's second strongest team since they won in 1999 with a 12 averaging just 11.83
So, a simple question... does the team with the lowest average world ranking usually win? Here's the list since 1997 (lowest in bold).
2016 USA 17.08 Europe 27.33 - USA WIN 17-11
2014 Europe 19.92 USA 16.25 - EUROPE WIN 16½-11½
2012 USA 12.17 Europe 18.92 - EUROPE WIN 14½-13½
2010 Europe 18.25 USA 17.30 - EUROPE WIN 14½-13½
2008 USA 24.75 Europe 22.17 - USA WIN 16½-11½
2006 Europe 22.75 USA 29.42 - EUROPE WIN 18½-9½
2004 USA 18.67 Europe 38.25 - EUROPE WIN 18½-9½
2002 Europe 52.58 USA 31.08 - EUROPE WIN 15½-12½
1999 USA 11.83 Europe 40.58 - USA WIN 14½-13½
1997 Europe 36.75 USA 14.58 - EUROPE WIN 14½-13½
The team with the lowest average world ranking has won just three of the last 10 Ryder Cups. That's partly a reflection of the USA's overall poor results as it's they who usually rank lowest. But also note that when Europe had a rare turn at being stronger on paper in 2008, they couldn't turn it into a victory either.
2018: This year? Europe 19.08 v USA 11.16. On those numbers, this is the strongest USA team we've ever seen since the world rankings were introduced in 1986. Fascinatingly, on the only occasions Europe have had an average world ranking of less than 20 (2010, 2012, 2014), they've won all three!
Do too many rookies make a team vulnerable?
"We had five rookies at Hazeltine and that proved too many," said Justin Rose ahead of Thomas Bjorn's wildcard selections. Actually it was six! But did Rose have a valid point? Is there a strong correlation between number of rookies and result?
Here's the last 10 Ryder Cups. The team with more rookies is bolded up:
2016 USA 2 Europe 6 - USA WIN 17-11
2014 Europe 3 USA 3 - EUROPE WIN 16½-11½
2012 USA 4 Europe 1 - EUROPE WIN 14½-13½
2010 Europe 6 USA 5 - EUROPE WIN 14½-13½
2008 USA 6 Europe 4 - USA WIN 16½-11½
2006 Europe 2 USA 4 - EUROPE WIN 18½-9½
2004 USA 5 Europe 5 - EUROPE WIN 18½-9½
2002 Europe 4 USA 3 - EUROPE WIN 15½-12½
1999 USA 1 Europe 7 - USA WIN 14½-13½
1997 Europe 5 USA 4 - EUROPE WIN 14½-13½
The team with more rookies has won four times in the last 10. Crucially, though, on each of those four occasions, the team with more new boys was playing at home. The biggest pointer to defeat is to have more rookies in a team playing away from home. Europe had six in Hazeltine in 2016 and were hammered 17-11.
2018: The rookie count this year? Europe 5 USA 3. History says Europe can absorb all that new blood and still win but it also suggests the USA are less vulnerable than they might have been.
Also note the record of teams with three rookies or fewer. P5 W3 L1 H1
Fate of the favourites
There's a perception that the USA are always favourites to win the Ryder Cup and usually blow it. Does history support the idea? Here's a list of the last 10 market leaders and how they fared:
2016 USA (WON)
2014 Europe (WON)
2012 USA (LOST)
2010 Europe (WON)
2008 Europe (LOST)
2006 Europe (WON)
2004 USA (LOST)
2002 USA (LOST)
1999 USA (WON)
1997 USA (LOST)
The strike-rate for favourites in the last 10 Ryder Cups is just 50%. However, three of the last four have won so blindly backing the underdog has started to prove unprofitable. Another pattern with particular relevance to this year is that the USA have a terrible record as favourites on the road. In fact, both sides do to some extent with only one favourite since 1997 scoring an away win.
2018: This year, the USA are 10/11 favourites to take victory and history says it's not a smart move to take it.