2018 Ryder Cup Betting Guide
Golf is unique among the major televised professional sports in the world in that it pits each individual against the field for the entire event. Certainly in a tennis tournament the goal is to beat the field and be the last man or woman standing, but Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic doesn't actually have to defeat every single contestant at Wimbledon to lift the trophy. Golf, on the other hand, requires a single athlete to triumph over his or her peers over four days in roughly the same conditions. The sport is closer to poker or, to stay on brand, daily fantasy sports.
Except, of course, for the Ryder Cup.
The Ryder Cup pits Team U.S.A. against Team Europe. Each team is composed of golfers who either earned their way through performance at key events throughout the season or were selected by the captains as wild cards. The event is something of a funhouse mirror version of a traditional PGA Tour or European Tour contest. The Ryder Cup is not a four day tournament that demands polite claps from the gallery and muted handshakes on the 18th green from the golfers. The event is three days with a different format each day, and cheers, jeers, and taunting are par for the course (not sorry for the pun!).
The athletes clearly relish the chance to both represent their team and mix it up with their counterparts, but why should they have all the fun? While there are no DFS contests for the Ryder Cup, the FanDuel Sportsbook offers some intriguing opportunities for investment.
Ryder Cup Outrights
Europe (+120) is a slight home underdog to the United States (-110), with long odds on the unlikely Tie (+1200) for those who truly wish to watch the world burn (the Americans would retain the cup in the event of a tie, but presumably only the Tie bet would pay). The Americans have 6 of the top 10 ranked players in the world and all 12 members of the team are inside the top 20, compared to just 6 for Europe. Led by World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, Masters champion and Ryder Cup legend Patrick Reed, and U.S. Open and PGA Championship winner Brooks Koepka, Team U.S.A. has the most firepower it has had in years. And oh by the way, one of the captain's picks just won the TOUR Championship and looks poised to return to the top of the sport.
The European side features the FedEx Cup winner himself, Justin Rose, and the other major champion this season, Francesco Molinari, and boasts a formidable course advantage. The Open de France, one of the biggest European Tour events of the season, is held at Le Golf National in Paris. The 2018 leaderboard featured three members of Team Europe in the top-10 back in July (winner Alexander Noren, T5 Jon Rahm, and T8 Sergio Garcia).
But there is only one option here for any red-blooded, flag-wearing, God-fearing American. While it would be incredibly uncool to root against the red, white, and blue, it would also be a bad bet.
Pick: Team U.S.A. to win the Ryder Cup (-110)
Top Points Scorer
While it may seem obvious that the winning team would feature the top points scorer, it is not a foregone conclusion. Thomas Pieters had the honor in 2016 despite a Team Europe loss, and an American has not finished as the outright top scorer since Corey Pavin in the 1995 Ryder Cup. Not all golfers will participate in all events, but this category is ripe for some longer shots to have a chance to pay off big.
Le Golf National features water hazards throughout the course and bentgrass on the greens. Approach play is key to success here, as 80% of the top-10 finishers in the last 5 Opens de France ranked in the top 26 in greens in regulation. Henrik Stenson (+2900) ranked first in greens in regulation percentage on the PGA Tour and 41st on the European Tour. He was fourth in strokes gained: approach on the PGA and ninth on the European.
Tiger Woods (+1000) was first in strokes gained: approach on the PGA Tour this season, but the physical and emotional toll over the past few months has to give bettors pause. Woods is likely to sit out an event, limiting his upside as a top points scorer. There is no value in him at these short odds.
Tony Finau (+4100) finished the season 24th in strokes gained: approach and 17th in greens in regulation percentage and managed a top-10 at three of the four majors this season. He has proved he belongs with these elite golfers but comes at the fourth longest odds for top scorer.
Josh Culp over at Future of Fantasy drew a comparison between Le Golf National and TPC Sawgrass in his Open De France preview earlier this year, so why not look to The PLAYERS champ Webb Simpson (+2600) at long odds. Simpson was 22nd on the PGA Tour in strokes gained: approach, and he scorched the field at the PLAYERS after going low on Sunday at the Masters, putting the lights out on bentgrass surfaces.
Picks: Webb Simpson (+2600), Henrik Stenson (+2900), and Tony Finau (+4100)
Reed has earned his Captain America moniker and can feed off what will surely be a hostile European crowd to finish as the top U.S. Player (+750). Going all in on Finau and picking him as the top U.S. scorer (+2200) as well could yield some big gains with a minor hedge against some Euro going undefeated.
Ian Poulter has been the top overall scorer in the past, but his +1600 odds aren't quite juicy enough to warrant the investment. An easier path is to take him as the top Great Britain & Ireland player (+550) or the top European player (+900) and still root for Team U.S.A.
Noren as the top Continental European player (+550) makes a lot of sense. He is the defending champion at Le Golf National yet has the second longest odds in this six man group.