Ryder Cup Tips: Best bets to finish as USA top pointscorer

Golfer Justin Thomas
Justin Thomas is a Top USA pointscorer selection for Paul

Armed with some further clues about pairings, Paul Krishnamurty recommends three bets in the top scorer markets from Team USA...

"Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele is another obvious double-act. They played all four pairs rounds together at the Presidents Cup and have rock-solid credentials."

As explained in my piece regarding the best value among Team Europe, betting strategy for the Ryder Cup should be crystal clear, based on decades of data. In short, we need to identify the players who might appear in all five rounds. On average, this amounts to less than a quarter of all competitors. Or three per team. Whoever plays these leading roles will represent outstanding value in the top scorer markets.

Next, Team USA. To be honest this is harder, because there are no obvious weak links. Whereas with Europe, I was able to confidently predict between four and six players won't play the full quota (or in several cases, even four out of the five rounds), any of this all-star line up could theoretically be an ever-present.

Alternatively, none might play the maximum. 44 slots need filling, so eight could play four, and the other quarter play three.

Thomas entitled to start favourite

Nevertheless, Team USA do have an obvious leader. Justin Thomas was a class apart in their dismal showing at Le Golf National in 2018, winning four out of five points. Among a team frequently accused of not taking the tournament seriously, his earlier trip to the Open de France was eyecatching.

Thomas played all four pairs rounds alongside his childhood friend Jordan Spieth and it doesn't take much of a leap of faith to assume that pairing will be restored after the latter missed the Presidents Cup.

The roster for media interviews, released last night, further fuels that theory and other unsurprising pairings.

Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele is another obvious double-act. They played all four pairs rounds together at the Presidents Cup and have rock-solid credentials. Cantlay is the form man, with the perfect all-round game. Schauffele is ideally suited to major championship conditions. Firm and fast, breezy Whistling Straits presents precisely that challenge.

For me, this is the quartet to focus upon. If anyone is going to play all five rounds, it will come from them.

Avoid DeChambeau and Koepka

I'm extremely negative about Bryson DeChambeau, who was abysmal in France and must be the hardest player for whom to identify a partner. He's also reportedly damaged his hands practicing for the World ProLongDrive Championship. I doubt these conditions suit either. I'll be surprised if he plays more than three rounds.

Obviously, Brooks Koepka has perfect big event credentials and played very well when the tournament was last held in the USA in 2016. However he withdrew from the Tour Championship with injury and missed a practice session. Plus recent comments about preferring rest do not inspire confidence.

With so many stars in contention to play each round, he seems bound to get at least one session off, probably two. Although a resurrection of his pairing with Tony Finau would be formidable. The latter performed with credit in France and is another with a big recent win to his name.

DJ's past struggles in pairs a negative

Dustin Johnson's record in pairs, when his game was in vastly better shape, doesn't inspire confidence either. However those roster clues point to Collin Morikawa as a partner and that could prove a formidable team.

The trio of 'lesser' names in this side all strike me as likely to go well but again, were Steve Stricker to pick any of Scottie Scheffler, Daniel Berger or Harris English in every round, it would be a surprise. This is reflected by bigger odds though and stranger things have happened. They are preferred to the European outsiders.

Morikawa deserves frontline role

That leaves Collin Morikawa. The Open champion's accurate game is absolutely perfect for foursomes and having adapted so well immediately to majors, is entitled to play a major role. That media roster implies Johnson could be his partner, which strikes me as a slight negative but, at 18/1 for Top Combined Points Scorer, he makes each-way appeal.

Choosing between the team or combined scorer markets is a dilemma. Generally in the USA case, I'm inclined to prefer the latter. They do look considerably superior, on paper, and the likelier winners.

Granted, the same is said ahead of most renewals. However Stricker looks a better captain than usual. Well-liked and therefore capable of bringing a team of egotistic individuals together. From Wisconsin, sure to know Whistling Straits inside out, and have the course set up to favour his team.

In Morikawa's case, the combined odds are nicely inflated, but the same can't be said about the market leaders for Team USA. Working on the assumption that leading quartet will be paired predictably, I'll pick one from each. Like Dave Tindall in his Team USA Player Profiles I am backing Justin Thomas who gets marginal preference over Spieth, and Cantlay over Schauffele. Respective odds of 7.06/1 and 8.615/2 in the team market very much appeal.

Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty

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