Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

The Punter: Expect Olazabal’s Europeans to tie up loose ends in Medinah

USA team players wives walk in during the Opening Ceremony for the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 27, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois.
A model promotes the 2012 Ryder Cup at the Medinah Country Club, Chicago
Rory McIlroy is the one the Americans want to stop

Expect a close-run thing in the 39th Ryder Cup, starting at Medinah, Chicago, today and hence 10/1 for the first tie in 23 years, a tempting proposition.

That would surely be enough to see Europe's captain Jose Maria Olazabal dancing on the Yankee grave after disparaging remarks from Amercian pundits about him leading a one-man team.

Nothing would satisfy the Spaniard more after what happened at Brookline in 1999. Europe went into the final day needing four points out of 12 and in the final match, Olazabal looked set to deny the Americans but Justin Leonard came back from four down with seven to play amidst scenes not seen on a golf course when the American team invaded the last green before Olazabal putted out.

The one man the Americans talk about is Rory McIlroy but even the number one in the world comes in for barbed criticism, being accused of not being a ‘fighter' by former American captain Paul Azinger while Curtis Strange believes if McIlroy is beaten twice on the opening day, Europe's challenge will sink quicker than a stone in a well.

"I'm looking at Europe's team and I don't see an intimidating figure other than McIlroy," said Strange, the losing American captain in 2002

Azinger, the only winning American captain this century, was equally assertive. “Rory has that youthful enthusiasm, he's going to be the most fun guy in the locker room,” he said. But he can slump his shoulders. And I just think if you can get him to slump his shoulders, if he loses two matches that first day, that whole dynamic in the European team room changes.”

If ever Europe had an incentive to rub the Yankee noses in it, they have it now. Of course it won't be easy — it never is — but to see the USA as 4/6 favourites, is an example of the layers being too tight.

On current form and rankings, Europe comes out on top and 6/4 is a big price to win outright, although they haven't achieved that on American soil since 1995 at Oak Hill.

Incrediably, Paddy Power are offering 4/1 to new phone clients.

But for betting value and expectations of a match as close as at Celtic Manor two years ago, a third tie is long over due. There have been only two previous ties, in 1969 and 1989.

Match: USA 4/6 Tie 10/1 Europe 6/4

Top European scorer: McIlroy 5/1 Donald 6/1 Poulter 7/1 Westwood 7/1 Rose 7/1 McDowell 8/1 Garcia 8/1

Top USA scorer: Woods 5/1 Stricker 8/1 Johnson 8/1 Mickelson 9/1 Kuchar 9/1 Watson 10/1

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