It’s one of those golf weeks that brings out even the fringe bettors: Welcome to the 2023 Ryder Cup.
Every two years (well, except for the COVID year), Europe and the United States face off and each side sends 12 of its best players to battle it out for bragging rights.
In all, there will be 28 matches over the three days of play at the Marco Simone Golf & Country Club in Rome, Italy.
There will be foursomes and four-ball matches the first two days with 12 singles matches the final day. The scoring is simple: Win a match and receive one point. Tie a match and each side receives a half-point.
The first one to 14½ points will win this year’s crown. The United States team, as the defending champion, can also retain the title if there is a 14-14 tie.
Let’s take a look at this year’s numbers and see if we can come up with a winning side as well as a couple of prop bets.
We’re going to use BetMGM for our Ryder Cup numbers, so check out our Ryder Cup odds and predictions.
Team USA Comes in as the Favorite
Despite the Ryder Cup being played on the road in 2023, Team USA is favored this year at -105 with Team Europe coming in at +115.
We’re going to ride Team USA for the simple reason we’re figuring the rookies on this squad will prove coach Zach Johnson made the right choices in adding them to an already solid squad.
Those rookies, Max Homa (who was 4-0-0 as a rookie on the most recent Presidents Cup team), Brian Harman, Sam Burns, and Wyndham Clark may be making their debuts but all four have faced world-class pressure this season and handled it well.
Add in the eight Team USA players who have teed it up in Ryder Cup play in previous sessions (Scottie Scheffler, Collin Morikawa, Patrick Cantlay, Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka, Rickie Fowler, Sam Burns, and Justin Thomas) and the US squad looks like a solid choice.
The European Team’s rookies, Robert MacIntyre, Sepp Straka, Nicolai Hojgaard, and Ludvig Aberg, have had success on the big stage… but only at times and mostly in European events. They don’t appear to have the consistent resumes to match up with Team USA.
The European team does have more than its share of star power with Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland, Matthew Fitzpatrick, and a couple of others leading the way, but the depth of the US squad could prove to be too much to overcome.
The two teams have each won on home soil over the past four Ryder Cup outings: Team Europe won in 2014 in Scotland, Team USA won in 2016 at Hazeltine, Team Europe won in 2018 in France, and Team USA won in 2021 at Whistling Straits.
This year, we’re thinking Team USA will end that string of home-field victories and will hoist the trophy on Sunday.
Top Team USA Point Scorer: Xander Schauffele
For our first prop bet, we’re going to back Xander Schauffele, at +650, as the top point scorer for the US team.
Schauffele will likely be paired with Patrick Cantlay in the team play portions of the Ryder Cup (they could play all four matches) but we’re betting his singles play is where he picks up the final point to win this bet.
He picked up four points in 2021 during his Ryder Cup debut and his solid play this season has us thinking the best is yet to come.
We figure if he had any nerves in 2021, he got over them quickly. This year, any nerves he may have will be gone by the time the team plane lands in Rome.
Top Point Scorer Overall: Viktor Hovland
No one’s coming into this week’s Ryder Cup on a hotter run than Viktor Hovland.
At +1100 to be the top overall point scorer out of all 24 players, we love the number and his play has been second to none.
He won the final two events of the PGA playoff run, the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship, so we’re betting European captain Luke Donald will send him out as often as possible.
Hovland’s recent play gives us all the confidence that he’s going to be Team Europe’s superstar this week.
One Final Bet: Brian Harman as Top Team USA Rookie
At +450, we love Brian Harman as the top US Rookie.
This may be Harman’s first time in Ryder Cup play, but he’s been part of United States teams for a long time as he has played on two Walker Cup teams as well as in two Palmer Cups.
His play off the tee (12th in driving accuracy), short game (led the PGA Tour in scrambling), and putting (22nd in strokes gained) will be a definite help when it comes to team play.
No matter who Johnson teams Harman up with, that duo is going to have a great chance of putting a point on the board every time they tee it up.
Look at Justin Thomas as Team USA’s First Singles Player Out
It’s tough to imagine a player of Justin Thomas’ caliber being a questionable pick for a Ryder Cup team yet here we are.
Thomas was one of the final choices by Johnson as he finished outside the top 12 in the rankings.
Whether Thomas should be on the team or not is now moot. He now just needs to make sure he makes a positive impact.
He’s at +900 and our thinking is, whether his play is hot or cold, he’s been here before and can make a statement so we’re betting he will lead the way on the final day.
He’s coming off a fifth-place finish at the recent Fortinet Championship. Prior to that, he had just one top-10 finish in his last 12 tournaments dating back to the Masters. In that timeframe, he also has six missed cuts.
It’s definitely time for him to step up and prove he belongs.
That’s why we’re going to use one of our prop bets on him and look at him as being the first US player that Johnson sends out in singles play.