After a long wait for the Ryder Cup, the biggest international event in golf is finally approaching with Team Europe and Team United States set to match up at Whistling Straits. It will be the 43rd edition of the Ryder Cup, and the first one hosted at the Sheboygan, Wisconsin track designed by the late, great Pete Dye.
Originally set to be played in 2020, the Ryder Cup was one of the sporting events completely canceled and moved to September 2021, partly based on the reasoning that crowds are an important part of the tradition of the Ryder Cup. This event will be the first showdown between Europe and the U.S. since the 2018, when the Europeans stunned the golf world with a dominant performance in Paris.
Team Europe has now won nine of the last 12 Ryder Cups despite often being underdogs due to the prominence of so many top ranked players on the U.S. team. The Americans have won two of the last three cups on home soil, so they will have the advantage of the crowd and a course that should be tailored a bit toward the distance on the American side.
Below, we will provide odds, analysis, and Ryder Cup betting predictions to consider before this event begins on Friday, September 24.
Ryder Cup Betting Preview For Whistling Straits
The Ryder Cup is obviously unique since it does not have individual stroke play scoring ove the course of four rounds to decide the winner. This tournament is a three-day match play event consisting of 28 total matches, each of which is worth a point. If a match finishes in a draw, each side earns a halve (half point). The team to reach 28 1/2 total points wins the Ryder Cup, and a 14-14 draw means the cup is retained by the side which won it last. In this case, that would be Team Europe.
There are three different playing formats seen in the Ryder Cup, each of which is detailed below:
- Foursomes (Friday A.M., Saturday Morning): Also referred to as alternate shot, foursomes consist of two players being paired together and sharing one golf ball throughout the round while alternating shots. This can create some tricky spots where you have to clean up the potential trouble caused from the teammate’s shot before you. At the same time, well-paired teams generally compliment one another well and have the ability to go low right off the bat.
- Four-Ball (Friday & Saturday Afternoon): Four-Ball matches are more conventional and consist of each teammate playing his own ball and the team taking the best score from the hole to match with the other team’s best score.
- Singles (Sunday): On Sunday, all 12 golfers from each team will matchup for a conventional individual match play session where 12 points will be up for grabs to take home the Ryder Cup.
There is a roster of 12 golfers for each team. While all team members must play a singles match on Sunday, it is the only time any player is guaranteed to tee it up. Otherwise, team captains and vice captains organize the pairins for Friday and Saturday. Here are the full rosters for both sides:
- Team Europe: Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Viktor Hovland, Paul Casey, Tyrrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Lee Westwood, Bernd Wiesberger, Sergio Garcia, Shane Lowry, Ian Poulter.
- Team United States: Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Collin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele, Tony Finau, Jordan Spieth, Harris English, Daniel Berger, Scottie Scheffler
Though the Ryder Cup differs from a normal PGA Tour event, there are stiull many different ways you can wager at online sportsbooks across the country. The most obvious and popular betting optioins is for the outright winner of the cup, but there are plenty of other ways to get involved. You can bet on markets such as the top point scorer overall, top point scorer for each team, the exact score, the winner of each type of match, and much more.
By staying up to date with each team and trying to guess who may play and who may sit for each session, you might be able to gain value picking one side for a specific format or day. Once the match draws are released each day, you’ll be able to bet on head-to-head matchups as well.
2021 Ryder Cup Betting | Whistling Straits Key Stats
Whistling Straits is a legendary course which has hosted three PGA Championships and a U.S. Senior Open, with this beingn its first Ryder Cup. Vijay Singh, Martin Kaymer and Jason Day came away with the three majors, perhaps already signaling that the course has warmly welcomed some international winners.
Located on the shore of Lake Michigan, Whistling Straits designed by Pete and Alice Dye back in 1998. The Straits course is built on some wildly sloped terrain that makes it a bit of a faux-links course, though it is described as links-style. Many fairways and greens are lifted above endless amounts of rugged bunkers all around the course. It’s a long track at more than 7,500 yards and because of that length, could play to the advantage of the United States team and the bombers on its roster.
For that reason, I’m taking a strong look at both Driving Distance and Strokes Gained: Approach (200+ Yards) to prioritize guys who can bomb their driver and create wedge looks as well as players who won’t have an issue hitting long irons.
In the PGA Championship events played at Whistling Straits, hitting greens has been a massive indicator of success. It’s not necessarily about hitting it close to the pin, but staying away from some of the diabolical hazards around the greens is a key. The Par 5 holes will always be important in the Ryder Cup because of the variation in scores possible. That’s especially true at Whistling Straits where Par 5 scoring has been an indicator of high finishes.
Correlated to a degree is Birdie or Better Percentage, with many of those winning birdies coming on the Par 5s. In a match play event, you may notice some added aggresiveness to make birdies, especially when the opposing side is playing well. Keep in mind there is often no difference in making a bogey or triple bogey on a hole. If you lose, you just pick up the ball.
From there, you’ll always want solid putting in a Ryder Cup. Clutch putting can often be what makes a Ryder Cup, but it’s also been something very hard to predict. Players like Sergio Garcia, who is not known as a strong putter, being elite with the flat stick in this event. It’s not a key stats but always something to keep in mind. Here is a list of Whistling Straits key stats for the Ryder Cup, whittled down to five categories:
- Driving Distance
- Birdies or Better Percentage
- SG: Approach (200+ Yards)
- Par 5 Scoring Average
- Greens in Regulation
2021 Ryder Cup Betting Prediction
I’ll be clear before I even get into the picks. The Ryder Cup is a very strange event where analytical thinking likely hasn’t led to too much success in recent years. The Americans have been strongly favored plenty of times in the last couple decades yet the Europeans have continued to defy odds and come out on top despite having a weaker roster based on World Rankings or even talent.
The most improtant thing to remember is that this a team event, which offers no guarantee of the best individual players coming out on top. Perhaps more importantly, it’s an event that uses the great equalizer, which is match play. Team golf means chemistry matters in a way it normally doesn’t. In this respect, golf is more like basketball or foodball in the sense that both strategy and comraderie with other players are important, even if everyone is an individual performer.
And with match play, which is featured as a novelty on the PGA Tour, we often see many top players can quickly go home to opponents you wouldn’t expect them to lose to. Match play really creates an entirely different environment and style of golf that we see week-to-week during individual stroke play events on the PGA Tour.
To Lift The Ryder Cup: Team Europe +200
It’d be silly to go too in depth about this pick after much of what has already been explained, but most of it just comes down to the pure value in the pick. While the Americans clearly have more talent overall on their team, I think the difference is a bit exaggerated, especially when looking at the statistical model for the week.
While the bottom of the model is filled with Europeans who mostly play overseas, the top is quite balanced. The top 12 in the model are filled with six Americans and six Europeans with them alternating at each spot almost all the way down. Team Europe has plenty of talent, and even in Ryder Cups where they haven’t, they’ve managed to fill that gap with pure passion and clutch play when it mattered most.
Most of the team dynamics are likely overstated once players get on the course, but there’s really no question that the Europeans seem to play for each other and truly have a sense of team pride when it comes to this event. The same can’t be confidently said about the U.S. side, especially after some comments we heard from Brooks Koepka this week. The Americans obviously care, but the relationships on that side and intensity at which they approach the team sessions seem to lack compared to the Europeans every two years.
I simply don’t think this event is as lopsided in talent as the odds say with the Americans sitting around or above -200, plus they need to the full 14 1/2 points to win. I’m willing to wager that the Europeans manage to pull off another surprise victory with the group they are bringing to Whistling Straits.
It likely won’t come down to the top-tier talent that can clearly compete with the Americans’ top talent. It will come down to players like Bernd Wiesberger, Tyrrell Hatton, and Matthew Fitzpatrick ,who haven’t necessarily been tearing it up on the PGA Tour as of late and will be needed to provide key points against opponents that have been beating them most weekends this year. Those are the pieces that have come up clutch for the Europeans in the last two decades, and I’m willing to bet they’ll do it again in Wisconsin at odds of +200 or better.
2021 Ryder Cup Prop Bets
Top Overall Point Scorer: Jon Rahm (+800)
The clear best player in the world seems to be a bit undervalued here as he’s paired with three more players at +800 and actually has worse odds than Justin Thomas. This is due to the Americans being favored and therefore expected to score more points. But as long as Rahm is feeling well after dealing with a little bug at the Fortinet Championship, it should be expected that he’ll play all five matches to give the Europeans their best chance.
I’d expect for him to be paired with another star with good form like Sergio Garcia or Viktor Hovland. Hovland would be a lovely pairing due to his ability to really attack flags. His weaknesses on and around the greens would be helped by Rahm, and the same could be said for Garcia. Both Garcia and Hovland are elite drivers of the ball along with Rahm, and these duos would be very tough to beat.
Even if Europe isn’t able to win, I think Rahm will be put in good spots to win a lot of points. I could easily see him winning four points or so, which should put him in contention for the top scorer for the week if he even loses a match.
Day 1 Four-Balls Winner: United States (+100)
This pick is based on a bit of analytical thinking and also on some instincts on how the Ryder Cup may go overall. While the odds aren’t great compared to typical golf odds, it’s actually pretty favorable when considering everything. You do have to consider the possibility of a tie when there are just four matches played in a session, but I do believe the U.S. may be in a good spot to start strong on Friday morning.
Four-Balls should be the best format for the Americans because quite frankly it’s not as team-oriented. The players can play their own game and be aggressive by using their power advantage on the Straits and making plenty of birdies. I’m expecting the Americans to come in motivated to get off to a fast start after all the talk about their underachieving in the last couple decades.
Padraig Harrington might be a bit more experimentative early on to see what works on his team and find an edge while I believe Stricker will likely come out firing with his top players in top-heavy pairings to get a quick lead. While things may change through alternate shot later in the day, I really like these even odds for the Americans getting 2.5 or 3 points in the first session of the week.
Top Captain’s Pick Point Scorer: Sergio Garcia (+650)
You’ve seen a lot of Sergio around this page as of late and it’s not for bad reasoning … he has just one finish worse than 26th since the PGA Championship in May. And that’s all despite a putter that has still failed to get anything going most weeks.
Throughout his career, the all-time Ryder Cup points leader has somehow managed to get that same putter as hot as fire for one week every two years, and I wouldn’t expect anything different at Whistling Straits. It’s a course that fits his current game quite well, and his driver has been incredibly good throughout the year. I’m expecting that typical Garcia ball striking to show up along with his fiery emotions that show up for an event he’s so passionate about.
This pick involves some other strategy as well. Garcia at +650 is well behind the odds of the other two guys I believe could battle him for this bet. Xander Schauffele and Jordan Spieth are both at +350 and could very well contend for this, but I struggle to see where they’re nearly twice as likely to score more points than 0ne of the great Ryder Cup players of all time.
Even though Spieth nearly won here in 2015, I don’t see it as a great course for his current game where the driver has gotten away from him. Schauffele is a valid choice but has been a bit inconsistent since the U.S. Open outside of an Olympic gold medal. I don’t see many of the other captain’s picks getting as many chances as Garcia who could easily play four or five matches if Harrington finds him a playing partner like Rahm that clicks early.
Best golf betting sites
The PGA Tour is one of the major focuses of online and mobile sportsbooks such as DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, and BetMGM. All three online books, and their respective mobile apps, offer outright, placing, matchup and prop odds on weekly tournaments, as well as futures on majors and the Ryder and Presidents Cups. It’s also possible to live-bet a tournament mid-round or at the end of the first, second, or third rounds as odds adjust.
Once you have an account on your book of choice, select PGA Tour or Golf from the top menu alongside NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and the other sporting options. From there, choose the tournament for a given week, or look to the Masters, PGA Championship, US Open, or Open Championship among the available futures bets. Place your wagers for the outright winner, top 5 or top 10 finishers, or head-to-head round or tournament matchups.
How to bet on golf and win
Odds to win a tournament can range from as low as +500 for a favorite like world No. 1 Dustin Johnson in an event with a weaker field to upward of +250000 for a little-known, low-ranked golfer. Outrights are also available to lead after each round, with odds rising slightly for the top of the field and dropping for the longshots. It’s best to spread out your wagers across several golfers with odds of +2000 or higher while steering clear of the heavy favorites.
All books will offer bets for a top 5, top 10, top 20 or even top 30 finish; these are available for the whole tournament or for each round. The odds drop significantly, especially for a top 30 showing, but it’s a good way to still get action on the longshot you like when backing a win is too much of a risk. Odds are released a little later than the outright odds.
Head-to-head or 3-ball
These bets pair golfers from the same tournament groupings or from similar Official World Golf Ranking positions for the best score in either a single round or the tournament. Compare world rankings of golfers from the same group, while adjusting for current form and course history. Odds will generally range from -150 to +150 for a much smaller return on your investment.
Like the above, books will also compose larger groups of comparable golfers based on their OWGR position, or nationality. Back a golfer to finish as the top American or top South African. Groups generally consist of between six and eight golfers with odds ranging from -110 to +1000.
These bets carry an incredible amount of risk but can be best way to find value in fields fronted by two of the world’s top golfers. You’ll need to predict the exact finishing position of the winner and runner-up, i.e. McIlroy to win and Jon Rahm to finish second. While they’d individually be carrying outright odds lower than +1000, the straight forecast can fetch a much greater return.
Each way bets combine an outright bet with a placing wager. Bettors make both bets and are paid out for both if their golfer wins, or just for the placing of 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th.
The PGA Tour website (and other sites) track golfer scoring by round and by tee time, whether it be in the morning or afternoon. Look at these stats and recent form and back a longshot to get off to a hot start before falling off. Additionally, someone like McIlroy will often have higher odds to lead after just 18 holes than he would to win the tournament.
Weekly props ask for a hole-in-one to be scored, for the winner to birdie the 72nd hole, or for the event to go to a playoff. These are generally far less profitable than an outright ticket or other props. Like Super Bowl novelty props, there isn’t a whole lot of research required for most of these odds, and odds will be heavily skewed toward the most likely result.
Golf betting strategy
Having gone over where to bet on the PGA Tour and some of the available betting options, we’ll now look at some strategies for long-term golf betting success to keep you turning a consistent profit week-to-week.
Unlike in the NFL where bettors have up to 16 games on which to bet per week, or the NBA, MLB or NHL with 10-15 games per day, golf bettors have around 155 golfers they could back every week. It’s important to diversify and back several different golfers each week, all while focusing on longshots. Like Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm or Brooks Koepka? They likely won’t be worth your while at odds ranging from +500 to +1500. Focus the majority of your weekly bets on those priced at +2000 or higher, with a win going a lot further.
Separate your weekly allowance – approximately 10 percent of your bankroll – between outright, placing and matchup bets. While the large profits come from hitting an outright winner, hedge those bets on more conservative lines to give yourself a better chance of making at least a moderate return on your overall investment.
One of the most frustrating parts of sports betting, in general, is having a golfer withdraw from a tournament due to injury. Bets are likely to be refunded if the golfer withdrew before hitting their first tee shot. If it comes after the first shot or at any point thereafter, you’re likely to be out of luck. This is another reason to diversify your wagers.
There’s also little news circulating before events regarding which golfers may be dealing with injuries. There aren’t beat reporters tied to each golfer, like in team sports. It’s largely on bettors to monitor schedules, results, and news pertaining to surgeries or injury treatments. Always be wary of golfers coming off a withdrawal, missed cut or a particularly poor round which may have been the result of a minor injury.
Course history vs. recent form vs. stats
The three main areas of PGA Tour betting research focus on past success at a course and/or tournament, recent results and scores, and statistical rankings against the rest of the field. The latter has been a major area of growth in recent years, both on the PGA Tour website and third-party sites, with a focus on Strokes Gained. This measures a golfer’s performance in a statistical area against the rest of the field in events they’ve played.
Course history vs. recent form can be a point of contention in the golf betting community. All too often in golf we see someone come off a string of missed cuts only to put together the perfect four rounds for their first career win. We also see golfers win an event after never having cracked the top 10 of a field there or miss a cut after five-plus years of top finishes. It all goes into making golf one of the most exciting and sweat-inducing sports on which to bet.
The PGA Tour schedule is made up of 49 events over the course of the year, though some of these tournaments run in the same weeks. Sponsorships, prize money or appearance fees can sway top golfers to play a European Tour event over a lesser PGA Tour tournament. Most top-ranked golfers will pick and choose their events throughout a season, focusing on majors and the most profitable tournaments. Others will play nearly every week while attempting to work their way up the OWGR or gain entry to other more exclusive events.
When looking to place a wager, it’s important to track a golfer’s travel, whether it be back-and-forth from the US and Europe, or bouncing between the PGA Tour and Korn Ferry Tour. Other golfers may take prolonged breaks either to rest an injury, prepare for a particular event, or work on their game outside of a tournament format. It’s also common for more experienced and successful golfers to tailor their annual schedules around events and courses where they’ve previously won, or the majors.
Sportsbook line movement
Betting on golf is all about knowing how to spot value. Top-ranked golfers are nearly always worth a wager on the rare occasions when they carry odds higher than 20-1. Proven winners can put it together at any time on any course, regardless of their course history, recent form, or statistical rankings.
Lines can also adjust throughout a tournament week based on the public’s betting action. Someone regarded as a value when the odds are posted Monday afternoon may lose some of their profit margin by Thursday morning.
All of this is especially important when looking to place futures bets on majors. Know a golfer’s worth and true abilities, and be prepared to place your futures bet amid a poor stretch of results in regular tournaments or following a minor injury. While their odds may rise several months out from a major, they’re likely to correct by the time of the tournament week.
While not as commonly discussed as weather pertaining to baseball or football games, forecasts are extremely important in golf betting. Whether a golfer is teeing off in the morning or afternoon waves can make a world of difference. Windier conditions on the west coast or in rainy locations are especially impactful. Always be sure to check daily and hourly forecasts, especially when looking to place a First-Round Leader bet or for any single-round bet.
Many golf fans and professionals alike often joke about the importance of the FedExCup. It has become more of an incentive for others, largely due to the significant financial bonus attached. Additionally, mid-tier golfers will load up their schedules around majors. This can help them gain a late entry to a field with a preceding win or a move up the world rankings. Be wary of a top-ranked golfer appearing in a weaker field at a lesser-known event. Just because sponsors want them there doesn’t mean the tournament will get their full effort.