2021 Ryder Cup Handicapped by Feuds?

Going into Friday’s Ryder Cup, the battle between the European Team and Team USA could pale in comparison to the squabbling among teammates.

Rifts between Americans Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau, plus a longtime feud between European captain Padraig Harrington and golfer Sergio Garcia have been well-documented. Will they affect the play, and if so, how does that affect your betting strategy?

DeChambeau and Koepka have been sniping at one another for the past three years. It started in January 2019, when Koepka criticized DeChambeau’s slow play. It escalated from there, though both players insist it won’t be an issue at this week’s Ryder Cup.

The row between Harrington and Garcia goes back much farther, but the European captain may have extended an olive branch to Garcia by selecting him as one of his wildcard picks.

That gesture might be key to the Europeans defending the cup. They enter Friday’s play as a +188 underdog at BetRivers, while Team USA is -186.

As a result of the turmoil, gamblers might want to think about how the disputes could affect team performance in the three-day biennial competition. We’ve put together some wagers taking both controversies into account.

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DeChambeau-Koepka Skirmish is Real

If you think the tensions between DeChambeau and Koepka are valid, there are several wagers you can take advantage of. The first is which Team USA player will be the highest point-scorer.

The favorite is Justin Thomas at +650 at Caesars Sportsbook (formerly William Hill), and for good reason. This is the second Ryder Cup for Thomas, and he went 4-1-0 in his debut appearance in 2018.

Thomas is one of only six Team USA golfers with any Ryder Cup experience. Take out Koepka and DeChambeau, and only Tony Finau, Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth have been here before. The line on Thomas has dropped from +700, but it still has a ton of value.

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Rookie Cantlay Could Usurp Thomas

If you’re looking for a newbie to dominate for Team USA, then Patrick Cantlay might be the best on the board. The Ryder Cup rookie is getting an odds boost at Caesars, fetching +800, while most other sportsbooks are offering +750. He’s the favorite for top Team USA rookie at +450.

The 29-year-old showed his mettle when he went heads-up against DeChambeau at the BMW Championship in the FedEx Playoffs. Cantlay prevailed on his way to the FedEx, and it cemented a strong year for him.

Can he do the same at the Ryder? There’s no reason to think he can’t. Cantlay’s already stared down one marquee player to win a big tournament.

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Harrington-Garcia Bad Blood: Ancient History?

The hard feelings between Harrington and Garcia began back in 2007. But the two seem to have simmered down since then, with Harrington choosing the Spaniard over Justin Rose for one of his captain’s picks.

That concession might just reinvigorate Garcia to play well for Harrington. Taking a flier on Garcia to be the top point-scorer for Team Europe might be worth a small wager.

Garcia has amassed 25.5 points in the competition, good for a 62 percent winning percentage. That’s the highest points total in Ryder Cup history, and more than the current USA Team members combined. Garcia is +2500 to be the top points-scorer for either team at PointsBet. He’s +1100 to be the top points-scorer for Team Europe at BetMGM.

A safer bet might be to take Garcia to be the top point-scorer of Harrington’s players. He’s at +150, while Ian Poulter and Shane Lowry are at +180.

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Hovland Intriguing Rookie Pick

One player who hasn’t garnered a lot of attention is Norwegian Viktor Hovland. The Ryder Cup rookie—who reportedly taught himself to play online, in a second language—has three factors to his game that might give him an advantage this week.

First, he hits the ball around 10 yards farther than the PGA Tour average of 289 yards. Second, he makes a ton of birdies. He’s sixth in birdie average, and ninth in scoring average.

And even though he’s a Ryder Cup rookie, Hovland has experience with match play events. In college, he was 12-0 in the format, including 6-0 in the three years Oklahoma State went to the NCAA Championships. He was also 6-0 in the 2018 U.S. Amateur, which he won.

It’s tempting to take Hovland as the top points-earner for Europe. He’s +700 at BetRivers, but well behind teammate Jon Rahm, who’s favored at +350. The smarter play might be over at BetMGM, where he listed at +500 to be the top overall rookie.

Here are projections from BetMGM:

Ryder Cup Matches Winner:
Europe: +190
Tie: +1200

Ryder Cup Matches Winner (Tie No Bet):
Europe: +180

Ryder Cup Matches Winner (with Spread):
USA -1.5 points:
Europe +1.5 points: +105

Who Lifts the Trophy?
Europe: +140

Watch the Ryder Cup

What: The 43rd Ryder Cup
When: Friday, September 24 through Sunday, September 26
Where: Whistling Straits Golf Course, Kohler, Wisconsin
Watch: The Ryder Cup will be broadcast on the Golf Channel, NBC-TV and Sirius XM 92, and live-streamed on Peacock, RyderCup.com, and the Ryder Cup app. For the complete Ryder Cup schedule of events, click here.

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