The Ryder Cup: Captains Are Key

Del Pugh:
The Ryder Cup trophy (Photo by Adam Davy/PA Archive/PA Images).

Bettingpro takes a look at what both Captains will bring to the Ryder Cup as Team Europe and Team USA prepare to do battle at Whistling Straits.

After a delay of a year, the 43rd Ryder Cup takes place at Whistling Straits this weekend, as Team Europe look to defend their trophy, won back in 2018 at Le Golf National in France, with a 17.5 – 10.5 scoreline. 

We take a look at how captain’s Padraig Harrington and Steve Stricker shape up, as they go head to head, plus look at their team’s chances, along with the individual players who could make the difference

In what is likely to be a vociferous and partisan atmosphere, the Captains role will be crucial throughout the weekend play, with the man-management key to any success. Online bookmaker Betway has been discussing how the Ryder Cup’s greatest players have fared when taking over as Captain and whether it is a boon to their sides hopes or a poison chalice, as we take a look at this year’s event.

Team Europe Captain – Padraig Harrington

Three-time major winner, Padraig Harrington was an important cog in the wheel of Europe’s success over a ten year period, winning four of six appearances in the event. Despite that, his individual record wasn’t so great, winning 9 and drawing 3 of 25 matches played. However, the Irishman was integral as a team-mate behind the scenes, making sure his fellow European players were focused and would push and support them each and every time.

This ability to push and encourage, however, will not be to the detriment of an individual’s own game, as he states in a newspaper interview:

They need the sense that I believe in them. They can’t walk out there looking at me as a player or an ex-player. That’s a line you have to work very hard on, to not be an intimidating presence”. Harrington continued: I want it to be: ‘Wow, here is this guy who has done what he has done in golf who believes in me

Padraig Harrington has chosen experience, alongside form for this twelve man side, with Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Rory McIlory and Ian Poulter all playing 22 matches or more across the Ryder Cup and are expected to form the spine of the side and keep the Team Europe positivity going for as long as needed.

There are just three rookies in the side, with Bernd Wiesberger, Viktor Hovland and Shane Lowry all capable of having excellent tournaments, while the World Number 1, Jon Rahm will be the go-to guy for points, with the Spaniard available at Evens* to win 3pts or more.

With no family or friends able to go along and a limited European fanbase in attendance, this will be one of the toughest Ryder Cup visits to American shores for Harrington’s side, but with the Irishman’s belief in his side and his steely focus on all facets of the game, he could well propel Team Europe, who are 15/8 to win*, to a fantastic victory at Whistling Straits

Team USA Captain – Steve Stricker

Steve Stricker may never have won a major tournament, but he was a formidable opponent on the US PGA Tour, winning twelve events. He played in three Ryder Cups, winning the one, but like Harrington, had a relatively disappointing record for a player of his ability, winning just 3 and drawing 1 of 11 matches played.

The US Captain has always been one of the quieter players on the tour and in his captaincy, he is no different, often answering questions with rehearsed and to the point replies, including when questioned about the notorious rumblings between Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka over the last year, with the captain in typical tone stating “It’s a non-issue for me and the team. I’ve had conversations between them both and they have assured me it’s not going to be an issue

Steve Stricker will have it all planned in advance and has admitted to talking with friend and vice-captain Tiger Woods on a daily basis, as he seeks to bring the Ryder Cup back home. His urge to win, is only succumbed by his sense of fairness, which was seen, when warning fans to not “cross the line” during the event.

Open Championship winner, Collin Morikawa may not need that reassurance, with the form he has shown this year, but Bryson DeChambeau, who has lost all three matches in the Ryder Cup will be an interesting watch this time around. However, it’s Justin Thomas who could be the catalyst for success, having won 4 of 5 matches in 2018. He has continually improved since then and will be a major factor here, with Justin Thomas available at 5/4* to win 3pts or more. That sense of calm may well be what his young and inexperienced side need, with just two players in Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth playing more than 10 Ryder Cup matches.

Winning tournaments is a very different feeling to playing in this mighty event, so the six debutants in this United States side may well findStricker’s big frame putting an arm around their shoulder to just ease the worries.

Can the United States take the victory and regain the Ryder Cup? They go in as favourites at 8/15* and with five of the last six Ryder Cups won with home advantage, it would be a brave soul to bet against it, especially with a partisan crowd at Whistling Straits come the first tee-off on Friday.

*Odds correct at the time of writing.