No more talk. No more drama. No more manufactured storylines. It’s time to get balls in the air and begin the 2020 2021 Ryder Cup.
Well, actually, we still have a ways to go, as the leadup to the Ryder Cup remains the longest leadup to any major golf event on the schedule. Silver lining: that gives you more time to peruse odds boards and shop around for the best lines on your bets for the week.
And despite this not being a normal tourney week, there are still plenty of wagering options to choose from. Our experts are diving headfirst into the prop market, even before the pairings come out. And yes, we have our picks to win, too, and it seems as though there is quite a divide. In a coin flip event, that’s to be expected.
Read on to see who we like this week at the Ryder Cup.
Ryder Cup 2021 picks: Our experts’ pick to win (odds per BetMGM)
Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: USA (-185) — This team is far too deep and has too much to prove. Plus, the home-course advantage will be very real at Whistling Straits. On American soil, how can you not back the red, white and blue?
Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: USA (-185) — Don’t overthink it: This is the best collection of talent in Ryder Cup history. And they seem committed to figuring out the chemistry solution. Time will tell, but I’m willing to bet that they get there.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: USA (-185) — This number has trended down, but that’s fine by me. The European side has the best golfer in the world over the past six months (Jon Rahm), but the American side has six of the seven best. American setups have historically favored better overall golfers since 2012, as well.
Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Europe (+200) — In the battle of patriotism versus betting value, it’s the value that reigns supreme this week. Surely the Americans possess the raw talent to dispatch of the Europeans but they are plagued by injury, personal strife and recent poor play from some of their top players. The European team is top-heavy, experienced and all pulling in the same direction. One of the big advantages for the Americans this week appears to be the course set-up at Whistling Straits (long and challenging). However, it’s the Europeans who hold five of the top six spots this week when it comes to strokes-gained/off-the-tee. Captain Harrington will have his team ready to roll and will have the freedom of being the underdog.
Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Europe (+200) — At first glance, with the U.S. side having the highest average rank in Ryder Cup history (just above World No. 8), you’d think the U.S. should roll. To that I channel my inner Lee Corso: Not so fast my friend. In looking at the vital stats for Whistling Straits (drive it far, make birdies, par-4 scoring), seven Europeans appear in the top 12 of my model. That was shocking for me to see. I’m more interested in betting props this week, but my lean would be with the Euros.
Christopher Powers, Golf Digest assistant editor: USA (-185) — It feels like people are trying to galaxy-brain themselves into betting on Europe, when in reality this pick seems pretty simple. Since 2008, the home team has dominated, save for Medinah, a year the U.S. was dominating before choking their guts out on Sunday. Europe can scrap and claw and fist pump and grind and camaraderie the U.S. to death all they want but it still won’t be enough at Whistling Straits. The U.S. wins in a rout. ‘Merica.
Lee Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Europe (+200) — We’ve seen it time and time again. The American team comes in with more talent but can’t gel together as a team. Europe comes in with team work, fight and grit in abundance. The U.S. tries to overdo the team building and everyone ends up out of their comfort zone. Europe rocks up after a few shared Guinness the night before for a laugh with their mates on the links and walk it.
Past results: Golf Digest’s betting panel had another strong season in 2020-’21, correctly predicting 14 winners in the last 28 events of the year. Unfortunately, the gambling gods don’t care about last season. As Bill Belichick says, “We’re on to 2021-’22,” and our goal is to continue steering you in the right direction when it comes to betting on the PGA Tour each and every week. Good luck to all and let’s cash some tickets.
Ryder Cup 2021 picks: Top USA points scorer (odds per BetMGM)
Caddie: Xander Schauffele (+750) — Should the Xander-Cantlay pairing flourish like it did at the Presidents Cup, Schauffele will play all five sessions. That’s enough to make you feel like you have a shot with this bet, but of course it helps that Schauffele is among the best all-around players in the event and, most importantly, one of the true elite putters. In match play, holing putts consistently is what’s required to win. He and Cantlay both have no problem doing that.
Mayo: Bryson DeChambeau (+800) — Bryson’s ranked first in SG/off the tee and birdies or better gained, per Fantasy National, over the past 24 rounds. If he earns a first-session win—he could be on the path to playing at least four matches, if not five.
Gdula: Justin Thomas (+600) — Thomas racked up four points in five matches in 2018 and should be seeing volume after ranking fifth on the qualifying points list. JT also wound up sixth in birdie or better rate in 2021. Including Presidents Cup data, Thomas has earned 11 points in 15 matches (73.3 percent), easily the best rate of anyone else with more than 10 Cup matches.
Gehman: Bryson DeChambeau (+800) — This is certainly a volatile bet to make, but there’s a strong case for DeChambeau to have an epic Ryder Cup. His skill set of making tons of birdies and bombing it way past the rest of his peers is suited perfectly for this format. In fourball, he can pile up the birdies and not worry about the wayward shot or two. In foursomes, his teammates will be clamoring to play with the longest player on tour. DeChambeau is likely to be a “hot-hand” candidate. If he wins his first match or two, it’s likely he plays close to every session.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Patrick Cantlay (+750) — The obvious play is Justin Thomas, but Rick Gehman has pointed out how poorly Jordan Spieth has played since The Open. If Spieth continues to struggle, that bodes poorly for JT. I love Patrick Cantlay’s (likely) pairing with Xander Schauffele … so I think Cantlay is the play here at slightly better odds.
Powers, Golf Digest: Bryson DeChambeau (+800) — If Bryson gets out Friday morning, which I suspect he will, he’ll have the full crowd behind him for what will feel like the first time in forever. That’s worth at least a hole, and I’m not buying this whole idea he’s a bad alternate-shot partner. Who wouldn’t want to have flip wedges in on some of these long par 4s? And if he gets that first match point he’ll end up playing in every single session. Imagine how differently fans will view him if he comes up huge this week? All he wants is to be loved, and his path there is going 4-1-0 at Whistling Straits.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Jordan Spieth (+750) — This is Spieth’s forte. He is an amazing match play player and has the heart of a lion. He also loves Whistling Straits, finishing runner-up here at the 2015 PGA Championship.
Ryder Cup 2021 picks: Top European points scorer (odds per BetMGM)
Caddie: Jon Rahm (+350) — For Europe to have a chance, their big dogs need to eat. Rahm will play all five sessions and will likely need 3 or more points to propel his team to an upset win.
Mayo: Paul Casey (+900) — Casey was mispriced in DFS this week: He’s only $6,800 on DraftKings, but he has the fourth lowest odds for top Euro scorer. The books are scared of him for good reason—I’ll be rostering him in DFS—IF he’s out in the first session. That should be your strategy: Only play competitors in the first session.
Gdula: Viktor Hovland (+600) — Hovland’s blend of distance and accuracy should allow him to play with anyone, and the one drawback for him is just the wedge play, which can help determine some winners in foursomes and fourballs. His demeanor and skill set should set up flawlessly for Ryder Cup play after making the team by ranking third in world points on the European side.
Gehman: Paul Casey (+900) — Outside of Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy, the Europeans will be looking for someone to carry the load. That could be Casey who will be making his fifth Ryder Cup appearance and has won 54.2 percent of his potential points over his previous four trips. His ball-striking ability should shine at Whistling Straits and he should be a staple in this European lineup.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Jon Rahm (+350) — It’s tough for me not to go with the World No. 1. He’ll obviously play all five matches. My only pivot is if Rory McIlroy is paired with Viktor Hovland in the first session, then I’ll consider going with Rory at +500.
Powers, Golf Digest: Rory McIlroy (+500) — While Rahm is probably the play, I worry about how he’ll handle the super-hostile environment. Rory, on the other hand, handled it quite well at Hazeltine. He’ll have no problem playing villain again this week and shushing the crowd any chance he gets. Plus, he’s the one guy in this entire event who you can absolutely guarantee to play all five sessions, so he’ll have plenty of opportunities to rack up points.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Rory McIlroy (+500) — McIlroy is as likely as anyone to play the most matches for Europe. His form has also been very good of late, finishing outside of the top 15 just once in his last 5 events. He has played Whistling Straits before. He has the Ryder Cup experience, fight and game to score maximum points.
Ryder Cup 2021 picks: Top Rookie points scorer (either team, per BetMGM)
Caddie: Xander Schauffele (+450) — All in on X. If he’s going to cash the top U.S. scorer bet, he’ll cash this one, too.
Mayo: Shane Lowry (+700) — Oddsmakers probably will never give him the credit he deserves. His ball-striking and ability to flight it low in the wind should suit him well, but more than that, he’s just flat out played phenomenal golf over the past half year.
Gdula: Collin Morikawa (+600) — Morikawa’s putting issues could come into play, but we’ve seen him sink clutch putts in the past, and his relentless iron play could simply help lead to birdie chances. He’ll have to putt less frequently than usual during team play, and as the points leader, he should play plenty now that his back issue is healed.
Gehman: Patrick Cantlay (+450) — It’s a little surprising to see Cantlay as a “rookie” to this event. He has played in one Presidents Cup, where he played all five sessions and earned three points. Cantlay is likely to see that type of usage again this week in Wisconsin and fresh off his playoff run, Cantlay is flying high. The game is in great shape and, if his putter stays hot, he will be a devastating match play opponent.
Hennessey: Patrick Cantlay (+450) — For the reasons above, I’m on Cantlay. For Euro-specific, I think the play is Viktor Hovland (+450), depending on his pairing. Scottie Scheffler (+750) becomes interesting if he’s paired with Bryson, though I doubt they’d go four sessions together unless they get on a heater.
Powers: Scottie Scheffler (+700) — If you take the hint from the practice-round pods, Scheffler is likely playing with Bryson DeChambeau Friday morning. If those two start 1-0, I’m not sure how you break them up. This will be a tough sweat against Xander and Cantlay, who might play every session and are also vying for top rookie honors. But if Scheffler starts strong, there’s a chance Stricker throws him out there all five sessions, too.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Collin Morikawa (+600) — Morikawa is the No. 3 player in the world and his laser like irons will make him extremely difficult to beat let alone leave out of matches. He has an excellent chance of playing in the most matches of any rookie and showed at the Open how well he can play on these links style courses.
Ryder Cup 2021 picks: Favorite prop bet
Caddie: Top Captain’s Pick points scorer: Sergio Garcia (+800, Bet365) — The Spaniard has stiff competition in this category with the likes of Spieth, Schauffele and Finau as captain’s picks (and that’s just the U.S.) side, but he’s still the all-time leader in points scored in the Ryder Cup. He thrives in the high-intensity atmosphere, both on home and away soil, and considering how well he played in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, there’s a chance Padraig Harrington plays him every session.
Mayo: Team USA to win by 1-3 points (+250) and 4-6 points (+350) (DraftKings) — Why not take the +EV bet rather than betting them -200?
Gdula: Top Captain’s pick points scorer – Jordan Spieth (+350, FanDuel) — Spieth should get plenty of chances for team points, and he ranked 10th on the PGA Tour in birdie or better rate during the 2021 season, which should allow him to take advantage in his singles matchup.
Gehman: Top Team Point Scorer and Winning Team – Rory McIlroy and Europe (+2000, DraftKings) — If the Europeans do pull off a victory, it’s because their stars will shine brightly. McIlroy is a virtual lock to play all five sessions, as he has in each of the last four Ryder Cups. McIlroy is well-rounded, earning at least 50 percent of the potential points across all three Ryder Cup disciplines (fourball, foursomes and singles). The path to victory for Team Europe runs directly through Rory McIlroy.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Viktor Hovland to score five points (+9500, FanDuel) — Yes this is far-fetched. But this is a huge number (at BetMGM this number is +4000). The line discrepancy is insane, and if Hovland pairs with Rory, this has a chance to cash.
Powers, Golf Digest: USA to win Day 1 Foursomes (+110, Caesar’s Sportsbook) — Keep in mind, this bet is literally for just the morning session on Friday. The crowd will be raucous, which will have the U.S. squad engaged early and often. Generally speaking, it’s tough for the road team to settle in right away in an environment like that. I expect a fast start for the Americans, which should be enough to lead 3-1 or 2.5-1.5 after foursomes. After that, you don’t even have to worry about one of those late afternoon Euro charges.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Europe to lead after Day 1, Day 2 and the Ryder Cup (+700, BetFair OddsBoost) — If Europe comes away leading after Day 1, Team USA’s heads will drop, fingers will be pointed and the blame game will begin. It will be very difficult for the Americans to come back from a motivation-sapping day one loss so 7-1 is a great price for the above.
About our experts
Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, owner of the Mayo Media Network and host of The Pat Mayo Experience. (Subscribe for video or audio. Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2020 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award, and was finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 21 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo is on the board of governors at www.fantasynational.com.
Brandon Gdula, managing editor and analyst for NumberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 fantasy sports-writers association Golf Writer of the Year *(congrats, Brandon!)*. Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast.
Rick Gehman is the founder of RickRunGood.com and the RickRunGood YouTube Channel, is one of the industry’s leading experts on golf DFS and gambling. Gehman is co-host of the First Cut Podcast and appears regularly on the Pat Mayo Experience golf podcasts. Follow him on Twitter: @RickRunGood.
Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports started out writing an article highlighting the best bargain plays for fantasy golf under his twitter handle @DKGolfBargains. His success at this prompted FanShare Sports to enlist him as a guest writer, which evolved into him writing the weekly Under The Radar article. As a U.K.-based expert, Alldrick’s insight into European Tour regulars and low priced, low owned plays has provided an invaluable edge for readers when it comes to DFS GPPs.