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Experts and Gamblers agree Europe can edge Ryder Cup thriller
September 24, 2012

Europe insider and ex-Tour player Jamie Spence believes Jose-Maria Olazabal's side are 'slight favourites' for the 39th Ryder Cup, which starts next Friday, September 28 in Chicago, and many punters are willing to bet their money on it

William Hill have 4/5 America priced up as most likely to triumph at Medinah with Europe a 5/4 shot.

But Spence, who is part of Ollie's backroom team, has been impressed with how many of Europe's stars seem to be peaking just in time for golf's greatest showdown.

Rory McIlroy has been living up to his World No.1 tag with three wins in his last four starts - including the final major of the year, the USPGA Championship.

There have also been recent tournament successes for Sergio Garcia, Paul Lawrie and Peter Hanson, while Lee Westwood was tied second in the BMW Championship in America earlier this month.

Spence has plenty of respect for the American team, who will have the advantage of home soil. But the Englishman - a two-time winner on the European Tour himself - has faith in Ollie's boys.

He said: "If we look back to the Open, a lot of our top guys - such as Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Luke Donald - weren't on top form. And the Americans were starting to look ominous.

"Since then, it's turned full circle with Lawrie, Hanson and Sergio winning - and, of course, Rory's great form, plus Lee looks back to his best. So it just looks fantastic from a European point of view.

"I can't see it being anything other than close, though, as the Americans have a strong side, plus they have home advantage. So it's still going to be really tough, but I make us slight favourites."

If America have home advantage, Europe can boast three of the top four players in the world in McIlroy, Westwood and Donald. Throw in the charismatic Spaniard Garcia and it's clear to see that Europe have some serious heavyweights to take into the three-day thriller - a factor that Spence hasn't missed.

He said: "For every Ryder Cup, your top players have to perform - that's a no brainer. They've got to lead the team and there are a lot of leaders in the European team.

"We've Rory, but he has three others with a wealth of experience around around him in Westwood, Garcia and Donald. That makes us a strong team.

"But let's not forget the likes of McDowell and Rose, either - plus Poulter the warrior. So, there's a strong supporting cast."

The action begins next Friday morning with four foursomes followed by four fourballs in the afternoon.


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