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Ryder Cup Betting - A look back and a look forward
November 2010

While the celebrations may still be raging in certain parts of Ireland, the bookmakers were left distinctly under whelmed at Europe's half-point victory and have installed the Americans as favourites to win back the Ryder Cup in two year's time, writes Jeremy Chapman

Just half a point separated the USA from the Ryder Cup and spared Colin Montgomerie being tarred a loser as well as being roundly castigated evermore for preferring Padraig Harrington to the vastly more logical Paul Casey. But bookmakers were distinctly under whelmed by the winners. Losing three out of the four sessions, Europe made such hard work of beating an unremarkable US side in which two of their main men, Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk, won only one match between them that some bookmakers immediately installed the Americans as 10-11 favourites to get Sam Ryder’s pot back at Medinah in two years’ time.

Europe can be backed at 6-5 in several places, and as Peter D’Arcy of Ladbrokes said: “We thought Europe were unimpressive and should have won by a bigger margin. They were not far off throwing it away.” Neil Lucas of Blue Square backed up that view, saying: “The USA looked weak but they still ran Europe extremely close, so with home advantage next time, we think they deserve to be favourites.”

Ladbrokes reported that the biggest bet over Ryder Cup week was £100,000 on the USA at 7-4, while on the other side of the ledger they fielded one bet of 50,000 euros on Europe at 8-13 as well as two of £30,000. “We were cheering for the tie,” added spokesman D’Arcy. One was certainly due as the match had finished in a dead-heat in 1969 and 1989. If only there had been a Ryder Cup in 2009, doubtless the result would have been 14-14. So it would have been this time if Rickie Fowler had not given a hole away in his foursomes by playing the wrong ball in a game that ended in a half.

There was nearly another Fowl-up on the Monday afternoon when the same player finished with a triple-birdie barrage to halve a match he looked certain to lose. “Plenty of punters were backing an unlikely US victory at big prices before Fowler’s amazing comeback,” explained Steve Freeth of Bet365, “so we were mightily relieved to see McDowell carry Europe over the line.” Blue Square’s Lucas confirmed that story, saying: “We laid the USA at 200-1 during the final hour and were having kittens until G-Mac held his nerve and put it to bed. We owe Graeme a drink!” It’s just as well Europe weren’t relying on triple major champion Harrington for the winning point. But for second partner Ross Fisher's heroic efforts, there’s little doubt the Irishman would have gone winless for the third consecutive Ryder Cup.

Ladbrokes make the dual Open champion 8-13 to play at Medinah, 6-5 not to. Bearing in mind his rate of regression, the fact that he’ll be 41 when Medinah comes around, and his thin Ryder record since 2004, that 6-5 to miss the gig might well be worth taking. Less disappointing was Tiger Woods, whose demolition of Francesco Molinari after being two down after two holes recalled past glories. He’s 8-1 favourite with Ladbrokes to finish overall top scorer in the next match on the Chicago course where he won two USPGA Championships. If you don’t mind tying up your money until 2012, that looks a very fair price.

With three points out of four, Woods was one of four joint top-scorers at Celtic Manor, the other being his chum Steve Stricker, Luke Donald and Ian Poulter, both of whom were superb for the winning team. With four cowinners, it meant that those who backed any of them would have seen only a quarter of their stake going on their selection.

With that oh-so-timely 15-foot birdie putt on the 16th in the 12th and decisive singles and then holding his nerve down the next when opponent Mahan had clearly lost his, McDowell has put himself in line for BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year award. The Ulsterman was already in the betting list at 18-1 for winning the US Open, but now he’s favourite at 5-4 (Stan James) and 7-4 (William Hill) to crown his great year in style.

He has taken over as market leader from jump racing’s perennial champion Tony McCoy, who finally won the Grand National after many years of trying, but other golfing Brits also get a quote – Lee Westwood is 20-1, Colin Montgomerie 25-1 and Rory McIlroy 66-1, though what Rory would be getting the trophy for is not totally clear. Whatever, there's little doubt who will get the team award.

There has been little betting interest in the Race to Dubai, the newish name for the European Order of Merit. That has to be because when you ask “Who’s leading the Race to Dubai?” the answer, even at the 19th hole, likely to be proffered is either “Alonso” or “Webber”. Certainly, the man in the street thinks it’s something to do with motor racing and this is one name change that, while super for the players in view of the money on offer, has not worked for the golfing public at large.

Betting on the Race ground to a halt after Martin Kaymer’s third straight win, at the Dunhill Links, gave the German such a strangehold on the No. 1 spot that the fat lady has almost sung. In any event, Kaymer is 1-14 with Paddy Power, with McDowell (10-1) and Westwood (33-1) the only other conceivable winners.

Looking ahead to 2011, Bet365 have Europe at 25-1 to run off with all four majors. They also go 5-1 no majors, 7- 4 one major, 13-8 two majors and 4-1 three majors. Spokesman Freeth explained: “With five Europeans in the world's top-10, it would be no surprise to see them improve on this year’s tally of two, particularly with question marks over Woods and Mickelson.”

And looking even further ahead, to Gleneagles and 2014, William Hill make Monty 3-1 to captain the Ryder Cup team again in his home country – unlikely but just about possible – and 16-1 to gain a playing place at Medinah in 2012. Now that would be something, wouldn’t it?


Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine


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