Ryder Cup 2021: Ignore the rankings and back Europe yet again

the ryder cup
Who will hold aloft the Samuel Ryder Trophy on Sunday evening?

The Ryder Cup starts in Wisconsin on Friday so read our man's extensive preview ahead of the eagerly awaited biannual battle here...

"I really do get the impression the event means far more to the Europeans and anyone wading it on the US Team at odds-on may need to ready themselves for a huge dose of disappointment."

Tournament History

The first Ryder Cup was staged in 1927 and won by the Americans 9½-2½ at Worcester Country Club in Massachusetts, but the event may never have come into being if it wasn't for an idea by one of the Golf Illustrated magazine staff - James D. Harnett.

Harnett's notion was to write to the PGA of America, in 1920, to suggest that a popular subscription could finance a team of 12-20 Americans to be sent to Britain to play in the Open Championship. No American had won the Open and the PGA ran with the idea, announcing the creation of the British Open Championship Fund in November 1920.

On May 24 1921, a team of 11 (which included the first American to win the Open a few months later - Jock Hutchison) left New York for Blighty and on arrival, prior to playing in the Open; a 10-a-side team event was staged between the Americans and a team from GB - held at Gleneagles. The Americans were soundly beaten in what was named the Glasgow Herald Tournament but it was a successful event and it proved to be a precursor to the Ryder Cup itself.

Five years later, Samuel Ryder, a wealthy businessman who had made his fortune selling seeds at a penny a packet from his garden shed, sponsored another informal event, this time at Wentworth, which saw a GB side beat a Walter Hagen-led US team 13-1. It was obviously deemed a success and 12 months later it became an official event.

After losing the inaugural event, Great Britain won the next two renewals on home soil, in 1929 and 1933, but only managed one more victory, again on home soil in 1957, before Irish players joined them in 1973. Three Ryder Cups were staged with a GB & Ireland team but still the Americans dominated.

The event was uncompetitive and fast losing its appeal so in 1979, Team GB & Ireland became Team Europe and although the US won comfortably in 1979 and 1981, in 1983 the Europeans ran the Americans close at the PGA National in Florida, losing narrowly 14½-13½. It proved to be a major turning point.

RYDER CUP 2021.jpg

The Europeans comfortably won at the Belfry in 1985, before winning for the first time on US soil two years later at Muirfield Village. They retained the trophy with a drawn match in 1989 and it wasn't an uncompetitive event anymore. It's grown in stature ever since and it's now a huge event that attracts millions of fans that don't usually follow the sport.


Two teams of 12 play out 28 match play ties over three days, with 14½ points the total required to take the trophy.

Each of the first two days includes one four-match session of fourball and one four-match session of foursomes before the two teams do battle on Sunday with 12 singles matches to decide the outcome.

In the four-balls, each member of a two-man team plays his own ball, so four balls are in play on every hole. Each team counts the lowest of its two scores on each hole, and the team whose player has the lowest score wins the hole. If the low scores are tied, the hole is halved.

In foursomes, each two-man team plays one ball per hole with the players taking turns until each hole is complete. Players alternate hitting tee shots, with one leading off on odd-numbered holes, and the other hitting first on even-numbered holes. The team with the low score on each hole wins that hole. If their scores are tied, the hole is halved.


The Straits Course, Whistling Straits, Kohler, Wisconsin

Course Details

Par 71, 7,390 yards

Designed by Pete and Alice Dye and opened in 1998, the Straits is one of two courses at the Whistling Straits complex. The other is called the Irish.

Whistling Straits course.jpg

The Straits is a links-style course meandering over open, rugged and windswept terrain. It hosted the 2007 Senior Open, won by Brad Bryant, as well as the 2004, 2010 and 2015 editions of the USPGA Championship won by Vijay Singh, Martin Kaymer and Jason Day.

Weather Forecast

TV Coverage

The coverage is extensive on Sky Sports and it starts tonight at 21:00 UK time.

The event itself kicks off on Friday and the live coverage begins at 13:00 UK time.

Last Ten Ryder Cup Results

2018 Europe ((17 ½ - 10 ½)
2016 United States (17 - 11)
2014 Europe (16 ½ - 11 ½)
2012 Europe (14 ½ - 13 ½)
2010 Europe (14 ½ - 13 ½)
2008 United States (16 ½ - 11 ½)
2006 Europe (18 ½ - 9 ½)
2004 Europe (18 ½ - 9 ½)
2002 Europe (15 ½ - 12 ½)
1999 United States (14 ½ - 13 ½)

Listen to our special Ryder Cup Golf...Only Bettor podcast

Recent Results Point to Europe

A quick glance at the results above since the turn of the century tells us that the supremacy that the United States enjoyed for the majority of the last century is now a distant memory.

Whichever way you look at it, Europe have been the dominant force since the switch to include all Europeans occurred in 1979.

They may have lost the first three editions and the last one on American soil in 2016 but Europe has won seven of the last nine contests, nine of the last 12, and 12 of the last 17 and the score since the switch in 1979 reads Europe 12 USA 8 - although that does include 1989 when Europe retained the cup by virtue of a draw at the Belfry.

Europe fair best when playing on home soil, and they've won the last six encounters at home, but they're competitive enough on American soil now too - winning four of the last eight renewals in the States.

Throw the rankings in the bin

World number one, Jon Rahm, represents Europe but the next six in the Official World Rankings are all on the US Team. As many as nine of the 12 Americans are inside the top-11 in the world rankings and Scottie Scheffler, who ranks 21st, is the only player on Steve Stricker's side not inside the world's top-20!

In stark contrast, Rahm, Ryder Cup rookie, Viktor Hovland (14th), Rory McIlroy (15th) and Tyrrell Hatton (19th) are the only four players on the European Ryder Cup team that are inside the world's top-20.

On paper, the Americans have by far the stronger side but year after year, the Americans have the stronger team but time after time they find it impossible to make that advantage count. I really do get the impression the event means far more to the Europeans and anyone wading it on the US Team at odds-on may need to ready themselves for a huge dose of disappointment.

Back Europe to confound the market again

Yet again, Team USA have the far stronger team on paper, and yet again, they're the odds-on favourites to win, but the United States have failed to justify favouritism on six of the last eight occasions they've been sent off jollies. Taking on the USA has been the way to go in recent renewals and even though they're an aging team that doesn't appear to be in the best of form, Europe at 3.39/4 is a price I'm happy to take.

Possible In-Play Tactics

The last three editions have been largely uncompetitive affairs but we witnessed all sort of shenanigans at Medinah in 2012. The Europeans hit a high of 27.026/1, the Americans a low of 1.031/33, and the tie was matched at a high of 80.079/1 and a low of 1.121/8!

The tie is currently trading at 14.013/1 and there's a good chance that it will be matched at a considerably lower price so backing the tie before the off and placing a series of lay-backs in the market could prove a profitable exercise if it's tight.

There's a danger that one team could run away with it so that might not be for everyone but it's certainly one way to play the event.

If you do want to back the Europeans, it may make sense to keep a bit of a your stake money back until after the first session on Friday morning.

Even though they ran out the comfortable 17 ½ - 10 ½ winners in Paris three years ago, they lost the first session of the day 3-1 and as Justin Ray's tweet below demonstrates, they have a history of starting slowly.

Side Markets

As Paul Krishnamurty points out here, the key to the Top European Scorer and the Top United States Scorer markets is to concentrate on players you're fairly certain will be involved in all or most of the sessions. There's nothing worse than backing someone that doesn't play more than once or twice before the Sunday singles, or even not at all so I've concentrated my efforts on the players most likely to figure.

I suspect Stricker will plump for the tried and tested partnership of Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth over the first two days and I doubt they'll miss a session. Thomas was the top scorer US points scorer in Paris when he beat Rory McIlroy and Spieth lost to Thorbjorn Olesen on Sunday but I'm happy to play Spieth this time around.

Jordan Spieth smiling 1280.jpg

Spieth finished second to Jason Day in the 2015 USPGA Championship at Whistling Straits and having enjoyed a resurgence in form throughout 2021, he'll be chomping at the bit to do his bit this week.

The Top European Scorer is a tricky heat and I can't for a second argue against Paul's confident selection of Rory McIlroy but I'm happy to take a chance on Sergio Garcia at 14.013/1.

Sergio and the European captain, Padraig Harrington, haven't always seen eye to eye since the Irishman got the better of the Spaniard in a playoff at Carnoustie in the 2007 Open Championship but bridges have been built since.

I can see Sergio wanting to prove a point to Padraig and the Irishman is canny enough to allow him to do so. There's a chance he'll be paired with world number one, and fellow Spaniard, Jon Rahm, and if he does, and the pair click, that price could soon look big.


Europe to win the Ryder Cup @ 3.39/4
Jordan Spieth - Top United States Scorer @ 9.08/1
Sergio Garcia - Top European Scorer @ 14.013/1

I'm not going to be doing the usual In-Play Blog this week as the format doesn't really allow it to flow but Paul Krishnamurty will be around all week with selections in all the matches and he'll also update Twitter in-between sessions over the first two days so make sure you follow him at @Paulmotty.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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