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Ryder Cup betting preview
By Dave Tindall Last updated: 30th September 2010
Colin Montgomerie's Europe can score a convincing win over the US at Celtic Manor says Dave Tindall in his betting preview.
A colossus as a player, Colin Montgomerie can enhance his Ryder Cup legend by guiding Europe to victory at Celtic Manor this week.
Monty never tasted defeat in eight singles matches against the US and his presence was sorely missed when Nick Faldo's team were defeated in Valhalla two years ago.
But with the Scot returning in the role of skipper and surrounding himself by stalwarts of past Ryder Cup triumphs, such as Darren Clarke, Sergio Garcia and Paul McGinley, the Europeans look an unstoppable force.
Comparing the two sides man for man can be a dubious pastime but there is simply no doubt that, as a group, the Europeans trump their US counterparts in terms of both current and course form.
The list of winners on the European Tour over the last four months is littered with members of Monty's team, a run started by Graeme McDowell here at Celtic Manor in early June. More of the Ulsterman later.
And while the decision to omit Paul Casey, a superb match player, was a big surprise it at least highlighted the strength in depth of European golf that Monty overlooked him in favour of a three-time major winner (Padraig Harrington).
Casey's omission was surely a sacrifice based on making the whole greater than the sum of its individual parts. While Casey excels at this form of the game, there are certainly more popular characters and Monty has clearly learned from past Ryder Cups that team spirit plays a huge part in this competition.
Home advantage is another huge reason to side with the Europeans.
The Americans are seeing Celtic Manor for the very first time this week but most of the Europeans know it extremely well while many have even won here.
The Twenty Ten course has hosted the last three Celtic Manor Wales Opens.
Ten of the 12 man European team have teed it up there and with plenty of success. McDowell, as mentioned, won this year's event, Luke Donald was third while both Molinari brothers can boast a top four. Miguel Angel Jimenez and Ross Fisher have both posted a top 10 here while Martin Kaymer was 12th in this year's event.
The Celtic Manor event has also been played on the Roman Road course (2005-2007) and the now defunct Wentworth Hills (2000 to 2004).
Jimenez won at the Roman Road in 2005 while, two years earlier, Ian Poulter triumphed at Wentworth Hills, whose configuration consisted of nine holes now used on the Twenty Ten.
It means a return to the Celtic Manor Resort will bring back positive memories for the vast majority of the European team.
Five of the last six Ryder Cups have been won by the home team so history is certainly against the US anyway. But when you factor in the record of the hosts on this particular course their task looks even harder.
To find a US away win on the list of Ryder Cup results you have to go back to 1993 and The Belfry. Interestingly that came on a course where five of the team had played in a previous Ryder Cup so Europe's home advantage was somewhat negated.
When the Americans have gone in cold on courses where the Europeans have played a lot - Valderrama in 1997, the K Club 2006 and, to some extent, The Belfry in 2002 when only two of the US side had played it before - they've been defeated.
With the exact same scenario in place at Celtic Manor this week, everything points to Europe.
The 7/10 Europe is fully justified so if your only bet is a punt on the winning side it has to be Monty's men.
But can we dig out some slightly better prices?
Well, if Europe's home advantage is a significant factor, it's likely that it'll be strongest on the opening day while the Americans are still learning how to play the course in a competitive environment.
Therefore Europe to lead after day one at 5/6 looks a wise play.
Confidence in this bet can be boosted on two fronts - Montgomerie's decision to kick the event off with fourballs and Europe's history of fast starts.
Europe's four victories in the last six matches have all come with the opening session being fourballs - and America's two wins came when Ben Crenshaw in 1999 and Paul Azinger two years ago reverted to foursomes first. No wonder Monty made the decision he did.
Secondly, you have to go back to 1985 to find the a visiting US side ahead on day one while Europe have been in front after the opening day eight times in the last 11 Cups and in five of the last six.
With all that in mind, suddenly the 5/6 looks stonking value.
As for the top scorer markets, it's the combined top scorer (i.e. taking into account both teams) betting that interests me most.
The reasoning is that the top European scorer is almost always the top scorer in the whole event and with a home win expected the chances of that look strong again.
And it means rather than backing someone at 8/1 to be top Euro, you can get them at twice the odds to be top combined points scorer.
Looking at the top points scorer's tallies from 2008 backwards highlights the trend of Europe finding the dominant performer:
Europe: 4, 4, 4½, 4½, 3½, 3½, 3, 4½
USA: 3½, 3, 2½, 3½, 3½, 2½, 4, 3
A European has won this market five times in the last six Ryder Cup while there has been one tie. That's partly an offshoot of Europe winning most of those matches but even in defeat they again provided the winner (Ian Poulter) two years ago.
The theoretical odds provided before - showing how the 8/1 could be parlayed to 16s - actually belonged to Graeme McDowell and he's my pick to be the star of the show.
McDowell looks all set to form one of Europe's dominant pairings alongside Rory McIlroy and, unless things go wrong early on, Monty will hope to play this duo as much as he can.
They've been superb together in recent team events but usually McDowell has been the dominant partner and if they did win every match together it's the US Open champ who could look the better bet to win his singles.
It's McDowell who has the Ryder Cup experience and it's McDowell who showed his liking for this course by winning the Wales Open here just a few months ago. He simply shouldn't be a bigger price than young Rory.
Although he kicked off his Ryder Cup career on the losing side at Valhalla, McDowell was one of Europe's few shining lights in 2008 and, of course, since then his standing in the game has been hugely elevated by his brilliant US Open win at Pebble Beach.
A fine performer in poor weather, he won't mind the ugly conditions and he has the ideal upbeat personality to thrive.
Go each-way (1/4 1,2,3,4) at 16s.
The individual US market could prove profitable too. As it's usually won with a modest total the potential for a shock is much greater. That's shown by five of the last six winners in the top US market going off at 16/1, 16/1, 9/1, 14/1 and 20/1.
Going through the US team, Woods, Stricker, Mickelson and Furyk all have poor Ryder Cup records while, with the rough up, big hitters Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson could find too much trouble.
Matt Kuchar seems to have lost form at the wrong time, Jeff Overton has been out of synch for months and it's asking a lot of young Rickie Fowler to shine in conditions so far removed from his native California.
That leaves Hunter Mahan and wildcard picks Zach Johnson and Stewart Cink.
The one I like is Johnson.
He's a good man to have in the dressing room, has experience of a Ryder Cup on overseas soil and looks to have the game to do well at Celtic Manor.
Holing putts is always vital in matchplay while keeping the ball in play looks to be important this week.
Johnson's US Tour stats show him 11th in Driving Accuracy and 5th in Putting Average so he has the tools to thrive.
As for the weather? "I'm a mudder," said Johnson in Tuesday's press conference. "I don't mind grinding it out."
A wildcard pick top scored for both Europe (Poulter) and the US (Mahan) two years ago so Johnson can keep up the recent trend of captain's picks justifying their worth.
Take him each-way at 14s.
Finally, I will have a quick pop at the correct score market.
I think Europe have enough in the tank to win with something in hand so I'll try 15½-12½ at 11s and 16-12 at 12s.
So get your money down, lap up the three days of superb competition and see how quickly Darren Clarke can down a celebratory pint at the end of it!
5pts Europe to win Ryder Cup at 7/10 (Paddy Power). A team of in-form players who have thrived at a course the US have never previously seen.
6pts Europe to be Day 1 winner at 5/6 (Paddy Power, Ladbrokes). Extra course knowledge should be at strongest on day one and US haven't been first day leaders away from home since 1985.
2pts e.w. Graeme McDowell to be top Combined Points Scorer at 16/1 (Sky Bet 1/4 1,2,3,4). A European has won this market 5 times in last 6 Cups. McDowell has outstanding credentials.
2pts e.w. Zach Johnson to be top American Points Scorer at 14/1 (General 1/4 1,2,3). Bigger names have iffy Ryder Cup records. Johnson drives straight, putts well and won't mind bad weather.
1pt Europe to win 15½-12½ at 11/1 (General), 1pt Europe to win 16-12 at 12/1 (General). Europe look to have great team spirit and strength in depth so a convincing win beckons.
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