After three long years, the Ryder Cup is now nearly upon us. With the completion of the Opening Ceremony, the moment we were waiting for was finally announced with the pairings being revealed for the opening morning foursomes. With two sides loaded with talent, the pairings were never going to disappoint and we have some fantastic matches to look forward to.
MATCH 1: Jordan Spieth / Justin Thomas vs Jon Rahm / Sergio Garcia
MATCH 2: Dustin Johnson / Collin Morikawa vs Paul Casey / Viktor Hovland
MATCH 3: Brooks Koepka / Daniel Berger vs Lee Westwood / Matthew Fitzpatrick
MATCH 4: Patrick Cantlay / Xander Schauffele vs Rory McIlroy / Ian Poulter
Match 1 Preview
Talk about starting with a bang. Match 1 is so pivotal and both captains are recognising this with their selections. There is perhaps no stronger American pairing than Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas. Playing in their third and second Ryder Cups respectively Spieth and Thomas have thrived in the Ryder Cup arena. Thomas was the US’s shining light in 2018 and when playing with Spieth in the last Ryder Cup went 3 and 1. Young, exuberant, and passionate, they are the perfect pairing to get the home crowd pumped and try to put an early American point on the board.
Since the Ryder Cup opened up to the rest of Europe, it has been the players from Spain who have been the heart and soul within the European team room. Led by Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal, Sergio Garcia has been flying the Spanish flag proudly with the enigmatic Spaniard now making his tenth Ryder Cup appearance. Europe will be hoping the next great Spanish player will be current world number 1, Jon Rahm. Rahm now playing in his second Ryder Cup had an underwhelming debut in Paris three years ago and he will be wanting to put that right and be Europe’s talisman this time around. European captain Padraig Harrington has gone with arguably his strongest pairing for this opening match and he will be hoping his Spanish duo can post an early point and give the Europeans some critical early momentum.
ODDS: USA +120 EUROPE +120 HALF +550
PREDICTION: In what is a true clash of the titans, we are backing the Americans to edge what could be a thriller and give Captain Stricker and the home team the dream start.
Match 2 preview
Match 2 is another match that truly whets the appetite. Both captains have recognized that they have two young superstar rookies on their respective teams in Collin Morikawa and Viktor Hovland. Both of these emerging talents have the opportunity to take this year’s Ryder Cup by storm, but it’s interesting that they have both been paired with some experienced veterans in Dustin Johnson and Paul Casey.
These are two pairings that not many would have predicted at the start of the week as both sets of players have such contrasting game styles. This will be a tight match and could be a match that is won by whatever rookie settles best. Watch out for my dark horse Paul Casey. Casey is a super golfer who has been super consistent this year and will be a hard man to beat this weekend.
ODDS: USA +110 EUROPE +130 HALF +550
PREDICTION: Dustin Johnson doesn’t have a great Ryder Cup record and his form has been scratchy heading into this weekend. With the steady hand of Paul Casey to guide him, we are predicting a narrow win for Hovland and Casey.
Match 3 preview
On paper, this is perhaps the matchup that most heavily favors the home team. It has been well noted this week that Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger wanted to play with one another, building on a great relationship that started between the two of them back at college. Berger was perhaps the most surprising captain’s pick as the man from Florida had a fairly understated end to his season, but both he and Koepka will be hoping that their close relationship will bring the best out of each other.
The European player with the most scrutiny heading into this year’s Ryder Cup was Lee Westwood. Scoring the bulk of his qualifying points last year and at the start of 2021, Westwood’s form has dipped and he secured a final qualifying spot by the barest of margins. Westwood has admitted that he was trying to use the practice rounds this week as an opportunity to rediscover his A-game, captain Harrington will be hoping he finds it quickly. His partner Matt Fitzpatrick often flies under the radar but is one of the most consistent players in the European team room. He would have been dissatisfied with how his season ended with his failure to qualify for the season-ending Tour Championship but Fitzpatrick could do quietly well this weekend.
ODDS: USA -120 EUROPE +175 HALF +550
Prediction: Whistling Straits is a monster and it looks like the European team will have a significant disadvantage off the tee in comparison to their American rivals. This is a match that the US team will be heavily fancied to win. Europe won’t roll over but we see America winning this one reasonably comfortably in the end.
Match 4 Preview
Another star-studded lineup to end the session sees European stalwarts Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter take on two rookies Patrick Cantlay and his good friend Xander Schauffele. Cantlay is arguably playing the best golf in the world right now and all week he has oozed confidence. His partner Xander Schauffele is one of golf’s coolest customers and the decision to pair the Olympic Champion with the FedEx Champion seems an inspired one.
On paper, the McIlroy, Poulter combination is a good one but is one that has thrown up some mixed results in the past. Both men truly love this competition and will see this as a match that they can win. Europe will expect to win this match and it’s obvious that Rahm and McIlroy will need to be at their best if Europe is to pull off the upset.
ODDS: USA -110 EUROPE +160 HALF +550
Prediction: arguably the toughest match to call, American success will rely on how quickly Cantlay and Schauffelle can adapt to the Ryder Cup environment. Europe will fancy winning this match and we do think they might edge it, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if this went the distance and ended up halved.
Prediction after session 1: Team USA 2 – 2 Team Europe