“This is different this week,” he said. “This is more like a football game or a basketball game where people have picked a side and you cheer for your side, which I enjoy it. That’s what the Ryder Cup is all about.”
One team of 12 golfers playing another — in this case, the U.S. vs. Europe — does mimic other team sports. It’s no longer one golfer vs. the field; it’s mano a mano. The same goes for betting on the event, which plays Friday through Sunday at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. As do some of the strategies behind winning those wagers.
Most of the bets you can place are termed “matchups,” where you simply bet one side or the other. The simplest, of course, is this: Who wins, U.S. or Europe? As of Tuesday night at BetMGM, the Americans were listed as the favorite at -225 (bet $225 to win $100), while the Europeans were at +180 (bet $100 to win $180). From there, the Ryder Cup’s actual matchups will also be a popular bet — two-man teams will play foursomes and four-ball on Friday and Saturday, and on Sunday, one side’s 12 players will play the other’s one on one. In addition, BetMGM will also offer various prop bets — activities that aren’t necessarily reflected in the actual outcome of the event, but can be wagered on, such as “top points scorer overall.” (As of Tuesday night, Jon Rahm is listed as the favorite here, at +750.)
But enough of what to bet. Let’s talk the all-important how and where. For the latter, I’ve asked a few of our experts from our weekly panel the following question: What’s your best advice/what do you look for in betting matchups this week at the Ryder Cup? Their answers are below.
As for where, we teamed with BetMGM, and the online sportsbook is offering a new promotion for the Ryder Cup: Bet $1 Win $100 if Any USA Golfer Wins Their Match! Sign up for an account to get into the action today.
On to the advice!
What’s your best advice/what do you look for in betting matchups this week at the Ryder Cup?
Josh Sens, senior writer, GOLF.com, @JoshSens: Personally, when I look at matchups, I keep in mind past performance, of course. But I’m also looking to avoid the heavy favorites in most cases. At this level, in this format, anything can happen, so I don’t like to lay a lot of juice. I’m looking closely at the underdogs, especially dogs matched up against some of the highest-ranked players in the world. Take a theoretical matchup for this week. A guy like, say, Dustin Johnson, is such a prominent name, he’s bound to be favored against almost anyone he plays on the European side, other than maybe Rahm or Rory, and the betting public is going to jump on him. Should he really be a heavy favorite against a gritty player like, say, Matthew Fitzpatrick? Probably not. I’d be looking to go against the public in this case, taking a player with a plus-payoff, as opposed to laying extra on DJ.
Jessica Marksbury, multimedia editor, GOLF.com, @Jess_Marksbury: The first thing I like to look for in any betting scenario is history. What is each player’s record in previous match-play situations? If the teams are pretty equal, the next thing I check is statistics. Is one player a particularly good driver of the ball, stellar with his irons, or clutch on the greens? If one skill is lacking, can he and the partner ham-and-egg to overcome a deficiency? If I’m still undecided at that point, it becomes all about the odds. Vegas generally knows what they’re doing — if the odds are leaning strongly in one direction, that’s a pretty good indication of what’s likely to transpire.
Brady Kannon, host, Vegas Stats and Information Network (VSiN), @lasvegasgolfer. (At VSiN.com, Kannon and Wes Reynolds will also have betting previews on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night for the following day’s matchups.): For those looking to bet on the Ryder Cup, you may not find my thoughts very entertaining but hopefully will provide some insight.
There are a few tournaments throughout the Tour calendar that are very difficult to handicap. More variables are present, and finding a solid position is less likely. The WGC-Match Play is an example, as it is just 18 holes per match, and oftentimes less. Sometimes one player can score better than his opponent and still lose. The Tour Championship is another very difficult one because of the staggered starting positions and scores according to one’s FedExCup points ranking. Finally, the Ryder Cup. I believe this, too, to be one of lesser “bettable” golf events we face.
That being said, if you are going to bet it, I suggest simply a play on one side or the other to win, and I personally would take the Europeans at around 2-1. You can find them around +175 “To Lift The Trophy,” or around +235 to score more points than the United States. Europe “To Lift The Trophy” also cashes a ticket if it ends in a tie because Europe would retain the cup as the defending champ. They have dominated this event in recent years, and I see no reason why not to take 2-1 odds or so for them to do it again.
The Sunday singles matches would be the only other market I suggest considering. By the time Sunday rolls around, you will have an idea on who is playing well and who is not, along with who may not be the best fit for the course and who is. In many ways, this would be like betting a single-round head-to-head matchup in the final round of a regular Tour event. There may also be some storylines that have developed by this time that create a betting angle.
I would not suggest dabbling in the Friday-Saturday matches because they are two players vs. two players. There are too many variables and dynamics, in my opinion, to try to put together a solid handicap. Add in the fact that you have different formats of play — best ball and alternate shot — and there are just too many things to consider, in my opinion. There’s too much possible randomness to be able to take a strong stance.
For me, this is more of a great event to watch and not a great one to bet. If you do choose to make a few wagers, I suggest keeping the amounts risked very low.
Nick Piastowski, senior editor, GOLF.com, @nickpia: All great points above, to which I’ll just add a few additional thoughts. First, I’ll piggyback on what Brady said about Friday and Saturday play and add this: Consider waiting until afternoon play. Players or even teams will often go out back-to-back, and you’ll be able to get an immediate feel for emotion, course fit and play. In addition, listen to what these guys are saying. Though some of it can be cliche, if they talk about a fast track or the ability to make a lot of birdies — which is what the early word sounds like — find guys who can hit it out there and can score in bunches. Finally, I love the overreaction bet. Jumping on what Josh said above, say DJ and his partner lose 5 and 4 early on. You might be able to catch him then at a discount later, as the public might suddenly turn sour.