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19th Hole

Meaning behind the bag numbers for European Ryder Cup team explained

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Every member of the European Ryder Team has a number embroidered on the front of their bag. For example, Lee Westwood is 118, Rory McIlroy is 144, and Viktor Hovland is 162. This might seem random at first glance, but after watching the European Team’s hype video, we totally understand the significance behind it.

While speaking to the media on Tuesday, Rory McIlroy elaborated on the subject. “There’s been 164 players that have played for the European Ryder team, or GB & I way back in the day. It’s a small collection of people that have played for Europe in the Ryder Cup. I think that’s what brings us very close together, and that’s been one of our sort of big focus points this week is just being here is very special and being part of a European team.”

McIlroy also revealed that it was team captain Padraig Harrington’s idea, “He played a video for us last night to put it into context. Only 570 people have been into space; I think over 5,000 people have climbed Everest; 225 have won a men’s major. When you sort of break it down like that, it’s a pretty small group and it’s pretty cool.”

While the United States team may be more loaded with elite talent, it’s hard to argue with the European Team’s self belief, and it’s reasons like this why they have won nine of the last 12 Ryder Cups.

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19th Hole

Bryson teases blockbuster pairing with Koepka at Ryder Cup

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The Ryder Cup may be the perfect storm to put the Brooks-Bryson ‘feud’ to bed for good, with the two men looking a lot more like harmonious teammates than bitter rivals at Whistling Straits this week.

On Tuesday, a significant breakthrough appeared to occur between the two, with Brooks coming over for a quick word with his teammate on the driving range, with everything looking very amicable.

The incident was received very well by a cheering U.S. crowd watching on, with the crowd’s applause getting a smile out of Bryson.

 

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After the session, DeChambeau addressed the print media for the first time in two months and was very forthcoming after breaking his blackout.

Speaking on the recent rivalry with Koepka, the 28-year-old revealed that the two had “great conversations” at East Lake and had been at dinners with each other since. Bryson also teased “something fun coming up here”, which has got many golf fans excited for a potential blockbuster pairing between the two in either the fourballs or foursomes action.

“A lot of this social media stuff has definitely been driven by a lot of external factors, not necessarily us two,” he said. “We had some great conversations during Tour Championship week when we had dinner, and then this week, as well. I sat down and had dinner with him last night, and it was fine.

I think there may be something fun coming up here moving forward, but won’t speak too much more on that.”

GolfWRXers, would you pair Bryson and Brooks together this week at Whistling Straits? Let us know in the comments!

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19th Hole

2021 Ryder Cup betting preview

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After a three-year-long wait, the 43rd edition of the Ryder Cup is finally here! The match will be held at the Pete Dye-designed Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin. The U.S. team figures to be glad to receive the home field advantage this year, as the European side has won each of the last six times on their soil, including the infamous 2018 beatdown in Paris.

Whistling Straits is playing as a 7,390-yard par 71 this week, and the course will play in stark contrast to the previous host course, Le Golf National. Since the U.S. team plays a hand in set-up, the rough figures to be down and multiple par fours have been shortened to become drivable for the longest hitters. This should play right into the U.S. team’s hands, who have an embarrassment of riches in terms of length off the tee, which has historically been one of the greatest indicators of success at Whistling Straits.

With all of that being said, bettors will have to pay a hefty price to back the United States. FanDuel currently has the most generous odds for the U.S. at -160, but they can be found at other books all the way up to -225. For this reason, while I do believe the U.S. will ultimately prevail, I have chosen to highlight five of my favorite prop offerings for those less inclined to lay that much juice. Let’s dive in!

2021 Ryder Cup betting picks

Shane Lowry top Great Britain and Ireland points scorer (+600, DraftKings)

Shane Lowry is a player that U.K tipster Steve Bamford and I discussed in-depth on the Inside Golf Podcast, and we are both high on his chances for a number of reasons. Firstly, Whistling Straits seems an ideal fit for the Northern Irishman’s game, especially if the current weather forecast holds. Lowry finished third earlier this year on the Pete Dye designed Ocean Course at the PGA Championship, and who could get forget his monumental win of the 2019 Open Championship at the wind-swept Royal Portrush. With seven consecutive top-30 worldwide finishes, the five-time European Tour winner enters the Ryder Cup in much stronger form than many of his European counterparts at similar odds.

The greatest obstacle will be how much European captain Padraig Harrington chooses to utilize Lowry, yet I have a sneaking suspicion that we will see a lot more of the former Open Champion than we would expect. A pairing with Rory McIlroy certainly makes sense, as both hail from Northern Ireland and possess similarly strong ball-striking. With that being said, the well-rounded nature of Lowry’s game makes him a solid partner for just about anyone on the European side. The reason I am selecting him as top Great Britain and Ireland points scorer instead of top European points scorer is that I do believe that both Viktor Hovland and Jon Rahm will have big weeks for the European side, and in this offering, I am able to get rid of both of those threats, yet still acquire Lowry at inviting odds.

Daniel Berger top wildcard (+900, FanDuel)

I firmly believe that Daniel Berger is going to have an exceptional week, and I’m frankly a little surprised he’s not receiving more buzz. The four-time PGA Tour winner has gained over five strokes from tee-to-green in his last seven starts, and he is coming off a performance at the TOUR Championship where he gained 3.8 strokes ball-striking. Berger’s iron play rarely gets discussed, yet over a large sample size of his last 50 rounds, only Collin Morikawa has gained more strokes on approach.

Of course, I am concerned about Berger’s opportunity. The U.S. side is loaded with talent, and there is definitely a possibility that Berger will get lost in the shuffle. With that being said, when examining the top wildcard market, I am a little bit lower on Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele’s chances this week than others, and I do believe that if Berger plays well in his first match, then he will earn more opportunities as the week progresses. The Florida native has an incredibly well-rounded skill-set that should pair well with any of his teammates, and I have zero concerns about his motivation to make the most of his first Ryder Cup opportunity.

United States wins singles (-160, DraftKings)

While I am barely getting a better price on the U.S. to win the singles portion than the whole Ryder Cup, I do believe that the U.S.’s greatest advantage actually comes in this aspect of the event. Thus, I am failing to understand why they have shorter odds in this offering. On the other hand, the European’s greatest advantage comes during the foursomes format due to their lack of questions surrounding team chemistry and their ability to hide some of their weaker players.

Conversely, the U.S.’s greatest edge comes during singles, where they possess the clear talent advantage. I will gladly back the U.S. side to take care of business in an offering that I believe should have sizably steeper odds than the U.S.’s standard price to win the Ryder Cup.

Most points won matchup – Tony Finau (+100) over Tommy Fleetwood (DraftKings)

I understand that Tommy Fleetwood is everyone’s Ryder Cup darling after his 4-1 performance in 2018 at Le Golf National, yet I have my concerns about his ability to repeat such a performance at Whistling Straits for a number of reasons. Firstly, while Le Golf National was the perfect fit for the five-time European Tour winner’s game, Fleetwood may have his hands full at Whistling Straits. The Englishman is one of the shorter players off the tee in this entire competition and he is a very poor long iron player as well. Fleetwood is accurate off the tee and possesses an excellent short game, and those project to be two skill-sets that could be largely devalued on a course with virtually no rough that is simultaneously set-up for scoring.

Even more importantly, Fleetwood has still yet to figure things out recently on American soil. While he has been solid on the European Tour this season, the Southport native has not recorded a top-five in the U.S. since the 2020 Honda Classic, pre-COVID-19 pandemic. I do not see Padraig Harrington utilizing Fleetwood a great deal this week for the aforementioned reasons. I would actually be surprised if he plays more than three matches.

Tony Finau, on the other hand, figures to be an excellent fit for Whistling Straits, as exemplified by his tenth-place finish at the 2015 PGA Championship. The recent Northern Trust winner is plenty long off the tee, and is an ideal partner for any of the U.S. bombers because of his elite short game and ability to clean up some of the green-side messes on the plethora of drivable par-fours. There is little point of choosing a host course like Whistling Straights and then proceeding to not utilize a player with Tony Finau’s skill-set. I expect Finau to both get more opportunities than Fleetwood, and outperform him in the opportunities that he does receive as well.

Team USA to win by 1-3 points (+250, DraftKings)

I’ll conclude with what is my favorite bet on the board. After much back and forth, I have settled on the United States squeaking out a victory as my predicted outcome. Earlier in the week, I was in the camp that the U.S. would win more handily because of their clear talent advantage and how much better their collective skill-set fits at Whistling Straits, yet after a quick scan of this week’s weather forecast, conditions actually look more-so to resemble that of a course on the British Isles. The one aspect of the set-up that the U.S. cannot control is the weather, and even if they do everything in their power to make this course favor length off the tee and birdie makers, that desired outcome is nearly impossible to achieve with wind gusts up to 30 mph. If this event was played in a dome, the U.S. may win in a rout, but if these conditions hold, I do believe that excellent wind and difficult condition specialists such as Shane Lowry, Tyrrell Hatton, and Matthew Fitzpatrick suddenly become far more relevant.

With all of that being said, the depth on the United States side gives them a clear edge in singles, and while I would be not be shocked if Europe actually enters Sunday with a lead, the U.S. still figures to outlast by a slim margin.

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19th Hole

‘What the f**k you doing?’ – Former Masters champ tells Brooks Koepka to ‘get a life’

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Former Masters champion Ian Woosnam has launched a stinging attack on Brooks Koepka days before the U.S. take on Europe in the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits.

Last week, Golf Digest published its exclusive interview with Koepka, where the 31-year-old aired his feelings on the Ryder Cup, calling the biennial event ‘a bit odd’ and that he finds the week ‘tough’.

Those comments angered former U.S. captain Paul Azinger who called on Brooks to relinquish his spot if he didn’t enjoy the competition. Now former European Captain Ian Woosnam has been the latest to hit out at the 4-time major champ.

Speaking at Ilkley Golf Club last week ahead of a Legends Tour event, the Welshman blasted the 31-year-old saying:

“The article Koepka has just done, that’s not nice for his team. It’s not good. He’s basically said, ‘I could do without this, it’s getting me out of my routine doing this’. “Christ almighty – get a life!”

Woosnam continued:

“If I was captain and it was one of my players, I’d be saying ‘What the f**k you doing?’ All this crap he’s got going with DeChambeau – is it that bad or is it just false? Either way, it’s not good for Stricker.”

The 2006 European Captain wasn’t exactly complimentary towards Brooks’ rival Bryson DeChambeau either and also accused Koepka of arrogance and shrugging off his peers.

“Who’d want to play with him (Bryson)? It wouldn’t surprise me if neither of them played before the singles. They’re already making excuses. You hear all this stuff last time between Dustin Johnson and Koepka. Is there something going on with Koepka?

Is he one of these guys who likes to stir everything? Is it arrogance? It’s almost like he’s shrugging them all off and saying I don’t want to be like you.”

The 43rd edition of the Ryder Cup kicks off Friday morning in Kohler, Wisconsin at the Pete Dye designed Whistling Straits.

 

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