Ryder Cup 2016: Hazeltine Golf Club, Minnesota, USA
|Outright Winner||Europe ($2.80)|
|Correct Score||Europe 15-13 ($12)|
|Top Point Scorer||Sergio Garcia ($15)
|Top USA Point Scorer||Patrick Reed ($7)
|Day 1 Fourballs
||Correct Score: Europe 2.5-1.5 ($5.50)|
|Day 1 Foursomes
||Correct Score: Tie ($3.75)|
Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota will host the 41st edition of the Ryder Cup. The USA lead 25-13-2 overall but the Europeans have dominated in recent times winning 8 of the last 10 Ryder Cups.
The team format makes for a thrilling contest and one which should not be missed. Europe cruised to a 16.5-11.5 victory at Gleneagles two years ago to continue Europe’s recent success but the win brough about almost immediate change for the Americans.
Phil Mickleson who has the most Ryder Cup appearances by and American (10) called for a complete restructure in an attempt to turn the table and they will now have get their best chance yet.
Both sides are stacked with talent but there were some very tough decisions made by the captain’s. Each side has 2 of the 4 major winners in 2016. Danny Willet (Masters) and Henrick Stenson (Open Championship) for the Europeans while Dustin Johnson (US Open) and Jimmy Walker (PGA Championship) will represent Team USA. The Europeans do however have the Olympic gold medalist in Justin Rose and last week’s Fed Ex Cup winner in Rory McIlroy.
In what can only be described as a rarity half of the European side are making their first ever Ryder Cup appearance. Cabrera Bello, Fitzpatrick, Pieters, Sullivan, Willett and Wood are all on debut. For the Americans Brooks Koepka is the only member to be selected for the first time.
In terms of rankings, Europe has 5 of the top 12 while the USA side contains 7 of the world’s top 20. Interestingly several top players have been overlooked with Bubba Watson (7th), Paul Casey (13th) and Russell Knox (19th) being overlooked by their respective captain’s.
Captain: Davis Love III
Captain: Darren Clarke
|Dustin Johnson||Rory McIlroy|
|Jordan Spieth||Henrick Stenson|
|Phil Mickleson||Danny Willett|
|Patrick Reed||Justin Rose|
|Jimmy Walker||Sergio Garcia|
|Brandt Snedeker||Andy Sullivan|
|Zach Johnson||Rafa Cabrera Bello|
|Brooks Koepka||Matthew Fitzpatrick|
|Rickie Fowler*||Chris Wood|
|J.B Holmes *||Martin Kaymer*|
|Matt Kuchar *||Thomas Pieters*|
|Ryan Moore*||Lee Westwood*|
* Captain’s Pick
The Robert Trent Jones designed Hazeltine Golf Club is one of only two courses in the world to have hosted every major USGA and PGA of America championships. Most recently it hosted the 2009 PGA Championship which was won by Y.E Yang. He held off Tiger Woods as the then world number 1 surrendered a 54 hole lead at a major for the first time.
Hazeltine stretches 7,628 yards and the par 72 layout has been re-routed for the Ryder Cup in order to provide better spectator viewing. The course is a real test as was highlighted in 2009 where only 9 players were able to finish the tournament under par.
Named after the adjacent lake (Lake Hazeltine) the changeable weather conditions can see the course play very different from one day to the other. Length will be key this week with the course boasting three par 5’s in excess of 600 yards and a par 4 of 518 yards. The closing holes alongside the lake are a real test as the water is in play with almost every shot.
Hazeltine is renowned for it’s rolling hills and mature trees with the lake being a factor on many tee shots and the greens heavily protected by large bunkers. Although not deep, with thick rough and water makes it very difficult to make birdies. We will see plenty of balls lost in the water this week and par will be more than enough to win points on a handful of holes.
Despite winning 8 of the last 10 Europe will start as rank outsiders. That will not phase them though especially with USA losing 5 of the last 6 when starting as favourites.
The selections of the relevant captain’s and subsequent pairings will certainly have a bearing on the outcome. Bubba’s non-selection is puzzling to say the least espeicially when you consider his length of the tee and his 3-1 fourball record.
Europe’s 6 rookies include several players who have played very little gold on the PGA Tour, most notably Wood, Fitzpatrick and Pieters. Their side would have been significantly stronger had Russell Knox and Paul Casey been on the team sheet. The later finished 5th in the Fed Ex Cup and is coming of three top 5 finishes having shot in the 60’s in 10 of his last 12 rounds.
There are still plenty of positives for the Europeans. In 2008 and 2010 the teams which were littered with rookies both won and the experience factor can be somewhat of a myth in Ryder Cup. Mickleson has a 16-19-6 record while someone like Tiger Woods was just 13-17-3.
What is more relevant is how players have performed at the course in the past. McIlroy, Westwood, Kaymer and Stenson all finished in the top 6 at the 2009 PGA and we have consistently seen players perform well when the Ryder Cup is held at venues which they have had great success.
Justin Rose was the top point scorer at Gleneagles where he had previously come 5th. Ian Poulter had previously finished 9th at Medinah where he played flawless golf at the 2012 Ryder Cup to top score and Luke Donald was 3rd at Celtic Manor in the same year that he top scored. It doesn’t stop there either. Lee Westwood was top point scorer at the K Club where he was a previous two time winner. His selection has been questioned but his 20-15-6 Ryder Cup record speaks for itself.
At the price we have to be on Europe! In terms of top combined point scorer The Wolf is going to go with a man that has flown under the radar this week. Sergio Garcia is one of the most experienced players in the field, is making his 8th Ryder Cup appearance and has a very impressive record of 18-9-5. With McIlroy. Stenson and Rose ahead of his he should also get a favourable matchup in the singles. He will likely pair with fellow Spaniard Cabrera Bello and that is yet another plus.
For the Americans The Wolf is chips in Patrick Reed. He went 3-0-1 in his first appearance in 2014 and had a phenomenal college career that was littered with matchplay format success. At $7 he is huge overs to top score for the Americans. Dustin Johnson, Kuchar, Spieth and Reed were in a practice tgroup together so he is also likely to be drawn with one of them which will place him in a very strong position for the fourballs and foursomes.
Outright Winner: Europe ($2.80)
Correct Score: Europe 15-13 ($12)
Top Point Scorer: Sergio Garcia ($15)
Top USA Point Scorer: Patrick Reed ($7)
Day 1 Fourballs Correct Score: Europe 2.5-1.5 ($5.50)
Day 1 Foursomes: Tie ($3.75)