You get the feeling that Team Europe face the sternest of Ryder Cup challenges this week in Chaska, Minnesota. Victory for Darren Clarke's men at Hazletine National Golf Club would be Europe's 4th victory in a row; it would also be their 9th victory in the last 11 matches. Undoubtedly recent results have deeply hurt the American players, some of whom turned on then captain Tom Watson after their defeat last time at Gleneagles. So 2016 will see Davis Love III captain a side that will be as motivated as possible to beat Europe for the first time since 2008 and to unquestionably honour the memory of Arnold Palmer whose passing on Sunday has rocked the world of golf.
It's clear that pre-event expectations are different in 2016 than they were in Scotland 2 years ago. The Team USA squad are 8/13 favourites with Europe available at 2/1 in places at the time of writing. So read on as we preview the Ryder Cup in detail with supporting statistics, predictor model and player previews as well of course as my final Ryder Cup tips.
Course Guide: Hazletine National Golf Club is one of the most respected courses in the United States. A long, tree-lined test with water hazards an additional feature on 7 holes, Hazletine is a Robert Trent Jones Senior test and is an excellent mix of birdie opportunities along with strategic holes where par is a good result. Green complexes are incredibly small for such a long test and the course is extremely well bunkered. Duininck Golf managed a bunker renovation project in autumn 2014 and the course features 108 of them which adds real difficulty. The level of test facing the 24 players this week can be linked to the 2009 PGA Championship where the course played as the 3rd toughest across the whole of the PGA Tour. Davis Love III, in partnership with the PGA of America, has set rough length at 3" this week compared to 4" back in 2009 so we won't see as stern a test as 2009, but clearly Hazletine will provide a more technical challenge than Gleneagles 2 years ago.
Hazletine National Golf Club, Chaska, Minnesota: Designer: Robert Trent Jones 1962; Course Type: Technical; Par: 72; Length: 7,628 yards; Water Hazards: 7; Fairways: Bentgrass; Rough: Kentucky Bluegrass 3"; Greens: 5,000 sq.ft average featuring Bentgrass; Stimpmeter: 12-13ft; Course Scoring Average 2009: 74.40 (+2.40), Difficulty Rank 3 of 51 courses.
For research purposes, other Robert Trent Jones designs include:
Overview: The PGA of America has re-routed the setup of the course for the 2016 Ryder Cup from the way it played at the 2009 PGA Championship. This week holes 1-4 and 14-18 make up the front 9 at Hazeltine so the back 9 then comprises established holes 10-13 with 5-9 then seeing the close to most matches. The club proposed the new route to give more spectators a chance to see the climax of the event. Match play tournaments don’t often end on the final hole and at Hazeltine holes 16 and 17 have restricted viewing areas.
Obviously Hazletine is an extremely long test, but the quality of the course can be seen by the fact that it has hosted the 1991 U.S. Open, 2002 PGA Championship, 2006 U.S. Open Amateur and the 2009 PGA Championship. The Ryder Cup is always about attacking golf but Hazletine, with a number of long par-4s, will definitely see a greater trend towards pars winning holes. Birdie chances are available though and naturally the PGA of America will likely shorten the course with masses of tee flexibility available, but with 3 of the par-5s being 600+ yards an excellent wedge game will be paramount.
Here's a view of how the course plays and interesting skill-set angles from Davis Love III as well as some player interviews from 2009:
Davis Love III: "We want the fans to enjoy it. I always say, I want to see home runs when I go to the baseball game. I want to see goals scored. Defence is great, but we want it to be exciting. I think we don't want it to be a power putting contest. They have gotten a lot of rain - you guys know, we've gotten a lot of rain. The course is soft. We're doing a great job with it. But we don't need it to be long and deep rough and cool and windy and play really, really hard. We want it to be fun for the players and fun for the fans.
Taking the course into account, that's where making your pairings is going to be important. Picking a guy for alternate-shot that matches up with a guy - you put two strengths out there. It's not just length. You have to have a great wedge game and you have to be a good putter. Obviously they are pretty big greens and a lot of them have this just kind of big, general up and over slope. So you have to be a good lag putter. You have to be a great iron player. It's going to be hard to get close to the hole if it's windy.
So a lot of factors that go into it. But the course is going to be a big part of how we make our pairings and how we make our picks. Everybody generally on both teams is long. You're either long or you're really long. I think that's what it boils down to. We have some guys that are really, really long. But just hitting long drives isn't the whole key to this. And actually driving it in the fairway, we've proven over the years, isn't really that important of a stat. It's strokes gained - putting, strokes gained, ball-striking, who can hit it closer to the hole with all their clubs, and who can obviously make the most putts."
Rory McIlroy: "Yeah, the first thing you notice about this golf course is that it's very long. Especially with the amount of rain that this area has had over the past couple of weeks. There's not much run on the golf ball, and there's a few par 4s that are touching 500 yards that are very tough. You know, saying that, the greens are holding, because of the soft conditions, so I'm sure the scoring will still be pretty good. And the rough, you know, it's pretty generous off the tee, compared to some other majors. And yeah, I mean, you know, even if you hit it off-line a little bit, you can still get away with it. You can still have a shot to the green which is good, so it's quite fair. But the rough around the greens is pretty sticky, so you don't really want to be short-siding yourself too much.
The long par 4s that are 480, 490, the greens are still very small. So I think if you hit it in the middle of the greens, I think pars are [good]. There's four par 5s out here, and you can't hit any of them in two. So they are not going to be a pushover, either. it's a little bit of an equalizer on this golf course, because there's still a lot of par 4s that are touching 490, and the 12th hole is 520 or something. Yeah, it is. I can't see anyone - maybe the only one that people will go for is the 7th. It's 572, but it's got the water on the left, so it's a pretty risky hole."
Lee Westwood: "I think there are about eight or nine drivers out there. There are certain holes that allow you to hit 3-wood, like the second with the dogleg, but if you wanted to, you could be aggressive and hit driver over the corner. It's a good course in that regard in that it gives you options. And it's a good course with regard to the way that they can set it up. I think the PGA has options moving tees around. I don't think we'll have to play 12 right off the back if they don't want to. Yesterday that was - well, for me, driver, 4-iron, and I played with Rory and Darren, and you know, I was longer than them off the tee and I was going in with 4-iron. And I watched Sergio when I was coming down the 15th playing that hole, and he must have been hitting 4-iron in as well. So if the longer hitters are hitting 4-iron in there, some people are going to be going in there with a wood, which that green is probably not meant for a wood. So they will probably shift that tee around a little bit, and maybe the next, the par 3, and even the one after that, the 14th, driveable, occasionally."
Weather Forecast: The latest PGA Tour weather forecast for Chaska is here. 141mm of rain in September has left Hazletine playing soft and receptive. Davis Love, when announcing his Captain's picks at the course on the 12th September, reported that the course was soft and 87mm of precipitation since then won't have helped. Receptive conditions will help scoring conditions, but the course will play long. Conditions in Minnesota in September were always likely to be autumnal, so Team Europe will be right at home. Morning matches will start at around 10-11 degrees Celsius, with afternoon matches peaking at 21 degrees Celsius. Easterly and south-easterly breezes feature, but won't amount to much.
Tournament Stats: We've published some betting-specific statistics pages which are well worth a look. As an example Patrick Reed has a 75% Ryder Cup win percentage compared to Rickie Fowler who has never won any of his 8 matches - look at our Combined Top Scorer Points for more information. Our Ryder Cup Top Points Scorer is also invaluable as it details individual top points scorer finishes for all players this week going back to 2002. Below you'll also find current Player Form, allied to in-depth team match play results across Team America and Team Europe.
Published Predictor Model: Our published Ryder Cup predictor for the overall combined points scorer market is available here. You can build your own tailor-made model using the variables listed on the left hand side. Key players in the Top 5 of the Predictor are Dustin Johnson (Predictor number 1), Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Patrick Reed and Phil Mickelson.
Recent Player Skill Rankings: These rankings are based on a 10-tournament window that stretches back to the RBC Canadian Open and includes both PGA Tour and European Tour events. Players must have played in a minimum of 3 main Tour events to be included and rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:
Top Combined Points Scorer & Prices: 2014: Rose 12/1; 2012: Poulter 16/1; 2010: Tied: Woods 10/1, Stricker 12/1, Donald 18/1, Poulter 20/1.
Team Europe Player Profiles - prices correct when published, subject to fluctuation:
Rory McIlroy: 2 PGA Tour wins in his last 3 appearances and fresh from his amazing victory at East Lake where he captured the Tour Championship / FedEx Cup combination. World Number 3 Rory McIlroy is clearly the player to watch this week at Hazletine where he finished 3rd in the 2009 PGA Championship. Rory has finished 9th (2010), 2nd (2012) and 3rd (2014) in Top Combined Points Scorer market across 3 Ryder Cup appearances. Unbeaten in singles, but only 1 win from 5 Fourball matches. 15/2 Top Points Scorer - Paddy Power
Danny Willett: The reigning Masters champion and World Number 10 looks set to play a key role for the Europeans (despite being a rookie), with Stenson unlikely to feature in all 5 matches. Comfortable in the United States and peaking perfectly for Hazletine. 3rd in the 2015 WGC Dell Matchplay at Harding Park - where he defeated Moore and Reed - plus 2nd last time out in the Italian Open. 25/1 Top Points Scorer - Stan James - 4/1 Top Debutant - Coral.
Henrik Stenson: A breakthrough 2016 campaign has recently been hampered by a reccurring knee injury. His unbeaten partnership with Justin Rose at Gleneagles produced 3 points, but there have to be serious doubts about whether the Florida-domiciled Swede can play enough matches to top the leading points scorer charts. Has lost 2 of 3 Ryder Cup singles matches and was 6th here at the 2009 PGA Championship. 16/1 Top Points Scorer - Bet Fred
Chris Wood: You have to feel for the Bristolian who won the biggest title of his career in May when he captured the BMW PGA Championship. That win following a fantastic close to his 2015 campaign and guaranteed the World Number 32 his spot at his first Ryder Cup. Wood has performed more than adequately across multiple Seve Trophy and EurAsia Cup appearances, but his summer neck injury sees Chris seriously struggling for form just at the wrong time. 80/1 Top Points Scorer - Coral - 14/1 Top Debutant - Coral
Sergio Garcia: A Ryder Cup stalwart with a 56% win percentage across 32 Ryder Cup matches. Joint top combined points scorer in both 2004 and 2006, but has never placed since then. 5 Ryder Cup victories from 7 appearances clearly marks out Sergio's critical role this week and the Spaniard generally plays a minimum of 4 matches. Form since a 5th at Troon in July has been disappointing. 16/1 Top Points Scorer - Bet Fred
Rafael Cabrera-Bello: A consistent 2015/16 campaign has seen Spaniard Rafael Cabrera-Bello climb the World Rankings and earn a well-deserved debut appearance at the Ryder Cup. His team match play experience is limited to amateur Jacques Léglise and Eisenhower Trophy appearances, but he certainly showed promise at this year's WGC Dell Matchplay in Texas where he finished 3rd, defeating Moore and McIlroy into the bargain. However the big question (as ever with Rafa) is how he'll react to the intense Ryder Cup pressure and partisan atmosphere as the World Number 30 has never finished in the top 10 of a Major Championship. 40/1 Top Points Scorer - Bet Victor - 15/2 Top Debutant - Paddy Power
Justin Rose: The hero of Gleneagles where Justin earned 4 points from 5 appearances to win the top combined points scorer market at 12/1. Justin's Ryder Cup record includes a 64% win percentage across 14 appearances and the World Number 11 has never been beaten in a Ryder Cup singles match, defeating Phil Mickelson (twice) and halving with Hunter Mahan 2 years ago. Rose will be a 'go to' man for Darren Clarke, but his performances since his Rio Olympic heroics have been particularly poor by his standards. 14/1 Top Points Scorer - Stan James
Andy Sullivan: Another European debutant who faces the most extreme golfing test for the first time in Minnesota this week. The Nuneaton World Number 50 is a newcomer to top-level golf with only 7 Major appearances and a couple of non-descript WGC Dell Matchplay appearances across 2015/16. His qualification owes more to 2015 rather than 2016, however Sullivan has won both the Walker Cup (2011) and EurAsia Cup (2016) - and to this point is unbeaten in team match play. 66/1 Top Points Scorer - Bet Fred - 10/1 Top Debutant - Bet Fred
Matthew Fitzpatrick: The 2013 US Amateur Champion is an undoubted talent. 7th in April on his Augusta debut and with 2 European Tour wins in the past 12 months, the Sheffield 22 year-old is Europe's youngest team member. Renowned for his top-level ball striking, Fitzpatrick could well see a couple of foursome outings and he has won 5 of 7 matches across the 2013 Walker Cup and 2016 EurAsia Cup. 45/1 Top Points Scorer - Bet Fred - 8/1 Top Debutant - Bet Fred
Thomas Pieters: Arrives at Hazletine with a huge amount of momentum, huge amounts of respect from Darren Clarke and a huge game. If on song the Belgian World Number 42 (up 46 spots in 2016) hits the ball a country mile, finds plenty of greens and putts devastatingly well. Pieters is clearly a confident individual who with 4th at the Olympics, 2nd at the Czech Masters and a crucial win at the Made in Denmark (when paired with Clarke in the opening 2 rounds) can handle intense pressure. Could provide an X-Factor for Team Europe as Dubuisson did 2 years ago. 50/1 Top Points Scorer - Coral - 9/1 Top Debutant - Coral
Martin Kaymer: The 2-time Major champion has no qualms when it comes to winning in the United States. Hazletine will be Kaymer's 4th Ryder Cup and the German has typically performed efficiently with 4 Wins, 3 Halves and 3 Losses. Expect Kaymer to be a key player in Clarke's thinking but the World Number 48 is undoubtedly a way behind the player we witnessed in the early summer of 2014 with a recalcitrant putter which refuses to fire. 28/1 Top Points Scorer - Coral
Lee Westwood: Team Europe's most experienced player, Lee Westwood enters his 10th Ryder Cup with 7 wins from 9 appearances. 41 matches, 20 wins and joint top combined scorer across 2004 and 2006. Lee will undoubtedly play a lot of matches and his experience across Friday and Saturday will be key - he scored 2 wins with Jamie Donaldson at Gleneagles. 2nd at The Masters and 4th in the European Masters recently, but has generally struggled in 2016 with his trademark ball-striking. 30/1 Top Points Scorer - Stan James
Team USA Player Profiles - prices correct when published, subject to fluctuation:
Dustin Johnson: The spearhead of the United States team along with Jordan Spieth. Will likely play 5 matches and jostles for favouritism with Rory McIlroy in the top combined points scorer market. Winner at Oakmont (US Open), Firestone (Bridgestone Invitational) and Crooked Stick (BMW Championship) in a career-defining season, but failed to handle handled the FedEx Cup pressure on Sunday at East Lake. Earned an each-way return in the top points scorer market last time the Ryder Cup was played in the United States. 7/1 Top Points Scorer - bet365
Jordan Spieth: Whilst Dustin Johnson has won and contended across the summer of 2016, Jordan Spieth has flattered to deceive since his Augusta meltdown in April. Yes he won at Colonial in May, but Spieth's confidence has definitely been dented with his driving and approach play becoming erratic. However the Texan World Number 4 is a classy competitor and is likely to feature across 4 or 5 matches for the Americans - his partnership with Patrick Reed in Gleneagles generated 2.5 points. 9/1 Top Points Scorer - Sky Bet
Phil Mickelson: A veteran of 10 Ryder Cup matches - Mickelson has only been on the winning side twice - both on home soil. A poor match win percentage of 39% highlights the level of performance Phil has delivered at the Ryder Cup and he was outspoken about Tom Watson's Gleneagles captaincy straight after defeat 2 years ago. Played some beautiful stuff up until his amazing runners-up spot at The Open, but that near miss has seemingly deflated the 46 year-old. 20/1 Top Points Scorer - Stan James
Patrick Reed: The street fighter within Team USA. Reed has had his most consistent season to date with 11 top-10 finishes including a fantastic win at Bethpage Black (The Barclays) in the final week of Ryder Cup automatic qualification when he was 8th and 'on the bubble' in the standings. That sums up the World Number 8 who loves tough courses and is putting incredibly well. Unbeaten as a rookie at Gleneagles where he was top debutant and lone runner-up in the top combined points scorer market at 66/1. 14/1 Top Points Scorer - Bet Fred
Jimmy Walker: Another who is likely to feature if the expected light rough materialises. Walker won his first Major at the Baltusrol-hosted PGA Championship in July and again finished 3rd at the bombers paradise which is TPC Boston (Deutsche) a few weeks ago. Featured in all 5 matches last time out as a rookie, losing only the Saturday afternoon foursome. 33/1 Top Points Scorer - Stan James
Brooks Koepka: The World Number 22 makes his Ryder Cup debut. Automatically qualified despite an ankle injury which hampered him in July and August. The course should suit the 26 year-old who is renowned for his aggressive power ball-striking, but a poor FedEx Cup campaign suggests a player out of sorts. No team match play experience of note. 25/1 Top Points Scorer - Stan James - Top Debutant 5/1 - 888 Sport
Brandt Snedeker: Played some magnificent stuff on the west coast swing early in 2016 where he finished 3rd Maui, 2nd in Honolulu and won at Torrey Pines; further top 5s in Canada and Greensboro qualified the World Number 23 for his second Ryder Cup appearance. A renowned putter, Brandt only featured in 3 matches at Medinah and with poor form over the FedEx Cup Playoffs, we could expect something similar at Hazletine. 33/1 Top Points Scorer - Coral.
Zach Johnson: A 2-time Major champion who starts his fifth Ryder Cup this week. Zach has never been on the right side of the result and with the long course set-up at Hazletine I would be surprised to see him play in any more than the foursomes and singles. Since a switch to PXG clubs over the winter the World Number 28 has struggled, but he's a tough competitor who has only lost 1 of 4 Ryder Cup singles matches. 40/1 Top Points Scorer - Coral.
J.B. Holmes: A member of Paul Azinger's inspired Valhalla team back in 2008, J.B. was unbeaten across 3 matches winning a 1.5 points in fourball action and capturing a vital point in the singles in his home-state. He's likely to play the same kind of role at Hazletine, with his power and liking for long courses making him a dangerous proposition. 30/1 Top Points Scorer - bet365
Rickie Fowler: Seems a big-name player to swerve at the moment. Has suffered with a lack of confidence since a fast start to 2016 where he won in Abu Dhabi and should have won at TPC Scottsdale. Led at Bethpage Black (The Barclays) when desperate to earn an automatic spot on Davis' team, but struggled down the stretch so was reliant on a pick. Amazingly has never won a Ryder Cup match in 8 attempts. 25/1 Top Points Scorer - Sky Bet
Matt Kuchar: Mr Consistency has played at Celtic Manor, Medinah, Gleneagles and now at Hazletine. A 36% win rate highlights an issue whereby he struggles in singles and foursomes. Tom Watson used him in 4 matches at Gleneagles - he lost 3 of them - but his fourball record is decent enough with only 1 defeat is 5 matches and he partnered Dustin Johnson to 2 wins at Medinah. Seemingly short of his best right now. 25/1 Top Points Scorer - Sky Bet
Ryan Moore: Was never on Davis Love III's preference list, but his performances since August and especially at last week's Tour Championship have given the USA Team captain no room to manoeuvre. After all, Love and his players wanted a hot hand, but Moore is probably one they never had in mind. Moore will make his senior team debut for the United States this week and his red-hot putter will see him a likely pick across the foursomes. 33/1 Top Points Scorer - bet365 - 6/1 Top Debutant - Coral.
2016 Ryder Cup Winner: The dynamics for this week's 41st Ryder Cup are fascinating. Hazletine National in Chaska, Minnesota is a treasured golf course which is a Robert Trent Jones original that's received a typical Rees Jones re-design (or two) over recent times. It's a long, tough course, which has an excellent mix of shorter par-3s and par-4s that will yield birdies, allied to some brutish holes where par will win the hole in plenty of circumstances. 3 of the par-5s are over 600 yards, so with a soft course they will play as lay-ups for virtually all of the players. Expect drama!
Looking at Ryder Cup history, Team Europe enter Hazletine after 3 straight wins. Naturally 2 of them were in Wales and Scotland and we all know how difficult the triumph in Chicago 4 years ago was. Looking at US-hosted Ryder Cups since 1987 (Europe's first triumph on U.S. soil), Europe have won 4 contests to the USA's 3. Darren Clarke arrives in Minnesota confident in his team: Talisman Rory McIlroy arrives after his Tour Championship heroics and has that confident swagger back; others in the team will undoubtedly be inspired by the Northern Irishman, but it has to be remembered that Rory cannot win the Ryder Cup alone.
With 6 rookies on the team, players like Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer and Henrik Stenson will need to lead from the front. Lee Westwood, in his 10th Ryder Cup, will also need to nurture and perform in equal measure. You can place question marks against any of these 5 players right now, but to win on U.S. soil all of them will need to pull their weight. In terms of the rookies, in Danny Willett Europe have the reigning Masters Champion who is peaking perfectly and he can take a leading role. Thomas Pieters undoubtedly has the X-Factor and his game will be well-suited to Hazletine. Matthew Fitzpatrick has a great amateur match play record and will be an excellent foursomes player. But in Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Andy Sullivan and Chris Wood, the English pair are out of form and the Spaniard will need to prove those who question his temperament wrong.
For me, Team Europe lacks the experience and isn't as strong as the team that played in Chicago 4 years ago, but what of the Americans?
Undoubtedly Team USA have plenty of motivating factors to inspire them this week. 3 straight losses, the collapse at Medinah and Arnold Palmer's unfortunate passing will be mentioned in the direct build-up and throughout. In Davis Love III they have an inspiring captain who admits the mistakes he made across the Saturday evening and Sunday 4 years ago. He's been open to input from the player-initiated US Task Force in establishing the selection criteria, choice of vice-captains, captain's pick selections and will take on-board fully from the players suggestions around pairings plus Sunday running order.
Team USA's squad on paper is stronger than Europe's. 10 of the 12 have Ryder Cup experience, 5 are Major Champions, 5 more have top-4 finishes in Majors. But like Team Europe, the Americans have player form issues with Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Brandt Snedeker, Zach Johnson and Rickie Fowler all struggling of late. Off the course, will vice-captain Tiger Woods inspire, undermine or be a distraction? More importantly after Bubba Watson was added to the growing list of vice-captain's on Monday afternoon, will Davis Love actually be able to say no to a request from the players?
When I weigh everything up, I think that the result will be very close at Hazletine this week. Team USA have some huge motivators and home field advantage. On paper they have a better team and DLIII has left no stone unturned when it comes to tactics and team-spirit building. However he clearly didn't want Ryan Moore on the team before his East Lake effort, is bending over backwards for the players and including Tiger Woods in his backroom staff will prove to be genius or a serious mistake. It almost seems like the senior United States players are managing Team USA and that may prove pivotal. Team Europe under Darren Clarke will have a better team spirit I feel and undoubtedly have the confidence that 3 straight wins and 8 wins from the last 10 Ryder Cups provides. I'm certain that McIlroy, Rose, Garcia and Willett will lead from the front, but for me Team USA win this by a slither. In terms of the correct score, 5 of the last 7 US-hosted Ryder Cups have been won with a 15-13 or 14.5-13.5 scoreline and there are worse bets than backing the draw at 12/1.
My selections are as follows:
If you're looking for the next Ian Poulter-type figure then the United States may have found him in Patrick Reed. Sparky, aggressive and with a touch of arrogance, Reed hates losing when representing Team USA. With Rose and Donaldson, Reed was an undoubted star at Gleneagles in 2014 where his partnership with Jordan Spieth generated 2.5 points. In the singles he then shot down the unbeaten Henrik Stenson in the second top match on a day when Team USA could only muster 3 other victories. That generated a 66/1 each-way return for top combined points scorer backers 2 years ago.
In last season's President's Cup, again hosted 'overseas' for some unknown reason, Jay Haas broke the Spieth/Reed team across Patrick's first 2 matches - which he lost. When reunited with Spieth in Saturday fourball competition they defeated World Number 1 Jason Day and Charl Schwartzel 3&2 before Reed halved the top match of the Sunday singles versus Louis Oosthuizen. To put that into context, Oosthuizen had won all 4 of his pairs matches prior to meeting Reed, who led the South African all of the way until the closing 18th. Surely Davis Love III will have to pair Spieth and Reed together from Friday morning onwards and the Texan duo for me are fairly likely to play 5 matches for Team USA each in total. On that basis I'm taking Patrick, just ahead of Spieth, based upon current form - he won at Bethpage Black in August - and a recent singles results advantage over Spieth across Gleneagles and Incheon.
I fancy Justin Rose here for a number of reasons. Rory, quite rightly, will grab all of the attention this week and he will undoubtedly feed off of that. But it's fact that Rose has a 64% Ryder Cup win rate compared to McIlroy's 43% with both having played 14 Ryder Cup matches. Both are unbeaten in singles matches, but Rose excels in fourballs and foursomes having won with McDowell, Poulter and Stenson across Valhalla, Medinah and Gleneagles. Justin has finished 3rd (Valhalla), 2nd (Medinah) and 1st (Gleneagles) in the Top Combined Points Scorer market since his Ryder Cup debut and with 6 rookies on Team Europe this week, I can't see a reason why he doesn't play all 5 matches which will give him the best chance possible in this market.
Rose undoubtedly peaks for his main targets - winning Olympic Gold was certainly one of those - and at Rio he made these comments in his post tournament interview, "Both Henrik and myself have got one eye on The Ryder Cup. I think we are both trying to figure out how to stay as fresh as we can for The Ryder Cup. We might both have to play big roles on the team at some point, so yeah, it's just about trying to bring our best once again when we need it."
Justin had a quiet FedEx Cup PlayOffs (Ian Poulter always did the same) but closed the BMW Championship nicely when finishing 24th. His record across Robert Trent Jones courses includes victory at Valderrama, 2nd & 3rd at Firestone and 4th at RTJ Golf Club last year.
Seems a no-brainer this one. Danny Willett is 4/1 to be overall top debutant - a market which includes the red-hot Ryan Moore and the unpredictably fiery Brooks Koepka - so taking those 2 out of the equation at 100/30 makes sense to me. I can see Willett playing 4 matches - plenty of his fellow rookies will not - and Danny will undoubtedly be a senior figure in the European camp. I think Danny will thrive on that responsibility and clearly the World Number 10 is comfortable now when it comes to playing in the United States. 3rd at the 2015 WGC Dell World Matchplay (Harding Park), warned of what was to come earlier this year when the Sheffield-based 28 year-old finished 3rd at the WGC Cadillac Championship (Doral) and naturally became the first European to win The Masters early this year since Jose Maria Olazabal in 1999. No other European rookie has that top-level experience. Played beautifully at the Italian Open when he finished 2nd a fortnight ago and is clearly peaking for Hazletine.
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