The Ryder Cup gets going in Rome on Friday morning but before it does there is enough time to take a look at the market for the team point scorers and who it might be that could come out on top of them. We’ll begin with the home team, Europe.
Europe doesn’t have the number one player on the world rankings but it could easily be argued that they have three of the form players in the world right now and all of them feature towards the top end of the betting market.
We actually have co-favourites of three this week for the European market. Viktor Hovland is the 7/2 favourite with some firms but you can get 9/2 on him winning in some places. The first box has been ticked with the Norwegian named in the foursomes pairings on Friday morning and he is part of a team who are comfortable favourites with the layers to win their match too. Hovland ended last season on the PGA Tour in very impressive form and could well justify the position in the market.
Jon Rahm is another who is 9/2 to lead the European point scoring and like Hovland he has also been named in the morning foursomes on Friday. He doesn’t have quite as easy a match though but you would imagine that barring an injury the feisty Spaniard, who will be looking to emulate the likes of Seve Ballesteros, Jose Maria Olazabal and Sergio Garcia this week, will play all five matches. He should be good for a singles point so there is plenty to like about The Masters champion.
Rory McIlroy is the other player who can be taken at 9/2 to be the leading European scorer this week. I’m not convinced that Marco Simone naturally suits his game but for the first four days he will have a partner to get him out of trouble should he find any of it. He will be looked upon as one of the talismanic figures for Europe this weekend but that is a position he has been in before. His Friday foursomes match is anything but a gimme though.
Tommy Fleetwood is out alongside Rory McIlroy on Friday morning and if that pairing can strike gold bringing up the rear in the session then you would imagine it will be seen together a lot over the course of the week. Fleetwood has really come back to the level of ball striking we know he has so Marco Simone should really suit his play and we saw five years ago in Paris how he can gel with a partner. At 13/2 he’s a live runner but that lack of guarantee of an opening point is a concern.
It remains to be seen whether Tyrrell Hatton will play all five sessions but if he does then he has a good partner in the first one in Jon Rahm and Luke Donald sort of suggested that if they win and win well they will stay together with them both having fiery characters which can inspire the other one. Hatton is a very good match play golfer which certainly comes into the reckoning on Sunday and there are definitely worse bets at 15/2.
Ludvig Aberg is the only other player who is a single figure price to be the leading European. That would be quite some rise given that he hasn’t played a major tournament yet but the winner in Switzerland is only 17/2 so bookmakers are probably rightly taking no chances. He is out in the Friday foursomes when many assumed he would just be playing in the fourballs and singles and he is out alongside Hovland too. Were I convinced he will play enough I’d be on this price but better bets lie elsewhere.
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Despite the fact that he is out in the morning session on Friday, Shane Lowry is a 16/1 shot to lead the European charge this week. The question is how much more of the competition he will play, particularly as he hasn’t had the best year on either tour. He is someone who can partner pretty much anyone with his skills though so he could be the value. He goes out alongside Sepp Straka who might just be a foursomes and singles player but were he to win with Lowry on Friday and get a fourball outing the 22/1 on him could be massive.
I think most would have expected the English pairing of Matthew Fitzpatrick and Justin Rose to be involved in the morning session on Friday. Luke Donald has said he expects all of his charges to play some sort of golf on Friday but already this pair have a maximum of four points to score so the 22/1 and 25/1 on them respectively might be on the short side, although of the two it has to be said Fitzpatrick could have the course he wants.
Nicolai Hojgaard and Robert MacIntyre are actually the two course winners in the European team but that wasn’t enough for either rookie to be selected in the morning session on Friday. The Dane is now 50/1 and the Scot 80/1 which is understandable with both only having a maximum of four points to go at. The problem is if they don’t get in on Friday morning there is every chance they don’t play Saturday morning which would really hurt their chances.
I’m not one for backing favourites in these markets but I just don’t see the downside to Viktor Hovland. There are firms out there offering a quarter the odds on a 9/2 shot and I just don’t see the Norwegian not being in the top three, largely because he and Ludvig Aberg are very short to win their Friday morning match and I don’t see arguably the form player on the team sitting out a session at any stage this weekend.
The other reason I like Hovland is this place is a ball striking paradise and there aren’t many in world golf who match the FedExCup champion when it comes to tee to green flushing it, and the fact that he has a boomer of a partner for the back nine on Friday morning is only further going to help his credentials. There are other challengers in this market and I wouldn’t put anyone off taking Sepp Straka at a huge price and hoping he finds a fourball outing but I’ll stick to a player we know will be out in fourballs in Hovland.
Back V.Hovland Top European Point Scorer for a 2/10 stake at 5.50 with 888sport
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