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Ryder Cup 2014 Preview:

Gleneagles,Scotland September 26th-28th

My first memory of the Ryder Cup is Bernhard Langer missing a shortish putt against Hale Irwin at Kiawah Island in 1991. The half point was enough to give the US a win by 14.5 to 13.5. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to see Europe dominate in winning 7 of the last 10 editions.

But if you are under the illusion that this is going to be a cakewalk for Europe you better think again!! Since 2008 the accumulated points total reads Europe 40.5 USA 43.5! During the last 3 Ryder Cup Matches 29 of the games have been decided on the 18thhole!! Indeed if we set aside the two absolute hammerings from 2004 and 2006 there has been nothing between the two teams since 1987; literally nothing… it is actually 154 points each!!!!

This year’s renewal has special interest for Irish golf fans as Paul McGinley becomes the first Irish man to Captain the team. We have a rich tradition in the competition with Irish golfers playing a huge part over the years and who will ever forget the emotional scenes witnessed at the K Club in 2006. McGinley has left no stone unturned in terms of preparation but it is ultimately up to the players to get the job done.

The two teams have shaped up nicely and I think they are well matched in terms of players capable of playing the required formats. The traditional way of thinking is that foursome golf suits accurate precision players and that fourball gives players a bit more freedom to bomb one off the tee and make lots of birdies. My own take on the team would be that players like Stephen Gallacher and Victor Dubuisson would be ideal for better ball format as they make lots of birdies but can throw in the odd scratch. The real accurate players are Graeme McDowell and Justin Rose. We are also lucky to have players like Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia to name but three who combine length with accuracy and are very adjustable in terms of styles and personalities to pair up with other players. Trying to guess pairings is very difficult but I expect Rose to pair up with Ian Poulter as they are really good friends and their games complement each other very well. The Scandinavian duo of Thomas Bjorn and Henrik Stenson could make an appearance at some stage and I think Lee Westwood could be an ideal father figure for rookie Jamie Donaldson. Whether G Mac and Rory play together remains to be seen. They do not have a good record only winning 2 of 6 matches in the past and I think McGinley may use them more wisely by keeping them apart.

Team USA has a good mix of straight ballers and bombers also and some natural pairings are Keegan Bradley with Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson with his good buddy Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar with former US Open winner Webb Simpson. They also have a few seriously accurate hitters like Jim Furyk, Hunter Mahan, Jimmy Walker and Zach Johnson to rely on for foursomes. The other rookies Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed are two of the hottest prospects in world golf and I’m sure when they get their run in the fourballs they will make hay!! I haven’t even mentioned the possible Ace in the pack for the Americans in their team captain Tom Watson. Watson won 4 Open Championships in Scotland and has captained a winning Ryder Cup team in Europe in 1993 and his team will be fired up to win it for him.

In terms of punting on the event it is a bit of a nightmare until you see pairings. I like to have a bet on top point’s scorers on each team but it is a real lottery. I think Matt Kuchar will play at least 4 matches and is a good bet at 9/1 for top U.S. player and I will go for Justin Rose at 7/1 for top European. Kuchar is also good value at 22/1 to be top overall scorer but with all these bets you are hoping your pick gets a good partner! I think the value lies in backing the Americans at 15/8 for the outright win but maybe have a little saver on the tie at 13/1. The correct score market covers all eventualities but the most popular result has been 14.5-13.5 in either direction so split your stake and back both results. Every match will be priced up by the bookmakers and exchanges so you can have some great fun picking results and making money from Friday to Sunday!!

Enjoy the weekend.

Go USA….. Sorry Go Europe!!!

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