Content Editor at Free Super Tips, Alex was born in the shadow of Old Trafford and is an avid Man Utd fan. After graduating from university he combined his love of football, writing and betting to join FST and now closely follows goings-on in all of the top European leagues.
Luke Donald never tasted Ryder Cup defeat as a player, being a part of a winning European team in four appearances, and there is a very real chance that he masterminds a home win over the USA when the 44th edition of the famous match begins in Rome on Friday.
Donald represented Europe in 2004, 2006, 2010 and most recently at the famous Miracle of Medinah in 2012, and while his accurate, short-hitting playing style has seen him left behind on the course, his calm, measured approach to the game means he could prove the ideal captain at Marco Simone Golf Club.
Can he lead Europe to victory? The odds suggest that the USA, skippered by two-time Major winner Zach Johnson, remain the team to beat but that was the case in France in 2018 when Europe, sent off at 6/4, took control from Friday afternoon onwards and won 17.5-10.5.
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Ryder Cup 2023 outright prediction – Europe to win at 5/4
Three decades have passed since the Americans last won the Ryder Cup on European soil and the bookmakers’ long-held faith in Johnson’s visitors is being pushed to the brink as the 2023 edition has edged closer.
Two years ago, the US demolished Europe at Whistling Straits, winning 19-9 in a post-Covid Ryder Cup played in front of an almost completely American crowd, and the bookies reacted by making Europe 2-1 to regain the trophy at Marco Simone this week.
But Europe, successful in the last six Ryder Cups on their own continent, have been getting shorter and shorter in the betting in recent weeks, moving to 6/5 in the outright market, and that support could prove justified.
Donald was handed the reins less than 14 months ago after Henrik Stenson was stripped of the captaincy following his move to the LIV Tour, but this is still the culmination of a long-held ambition for a man who has been a vice-captain at the last two Ryder Cups.
While Padraig Harrington’s 2021 team arrived in Wisconsin out of form with the exception of the brilliant Jon Rahm, Donald’s group are firing on all cylinders with Rahm joined by talisman Rory McIlroy and red-hot Viktor Hovland in the top four in the world rankings.
European success will likely hinge on the performance of those three giants and Donald will have to get his pairings right, but they are backed up by a solid, experienced Anglo-Irish core featuring Tommy Fleetwood, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tyrrell Hatton, Justin Rose and Shane Lowry.
Former European heavyweights Sergio Garcia, Paul Casey, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood all went to Whistling Straits, where only Garcia played well by virtue of playing alongside Rahm, but their LIV-enforced exile has opened the door for some emerging young blood, most notably Ludvig Aberg.
The hugely talented Swede has the potential to be a genuine force and it will be interesting to see if Donald decides to send him out on Friday morning, while he’s joined as a rookie by Robert MacIntyre and Nicolai Hojgaard, both Italian Open champions at Marco Simone, as well as the enigmatic Sepp Straka.
The course set-up, seemingly so crucial at Le Golf National in 2018, is reportedly similar but given Europe’s strengths are more akin to those of the US, that is unlikely to be such a decisive factor this time around.
But while the last Ryder Cup felt like a farewell for some of Europe’s modern greats, the rebuild has been quick and, with home advantage restored in Rome, Europe can take charge.
Johnson boasts a strong squad with world number one Scottie Scheffler joined by five other members of the world’s top ten, but Scheffler, Collin Morikawa, Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele have never competed in a European Ryder Cup and the US are also taking four rookies to the Eternal City.
Of those with European experience, question marks remain over the form of Justin Thomas while his likely playing partner Jordan Spieth has also struggled in recent months. US PGA champion Brooks Koepka has LIV Golf form figures of 41-38-26 from the last three events and Rickie Fowler has a rotten Ryder Cup record to overcome.
The US undoubtedly boasts the deeper pool of talent, but home advantage and current form could tilt the balance in favour of Europe.
Ryder Cup special bets
- Viktor Hovland top overall points scorer at 9/1
- Collin Morikawa top US points scorer at 8/1
- Ludvig Aberg top European rookie points scorer at 11/8
Betting on the top points scorer at the Ryder Cup is not easy because the pairings will not be known until Thursday’s opening ceremony but it will be a surprise if Europe do not send out their big guns for Friday morning foursomes.
Jon Rahm has teed off in the opening group in the last two Ryder Cups, first alongside Justin Rose in Paris and then partnering compatriot Sergio Garcia at Whistling Straits, and Luke Donald could make a statement by going with him first once again.
Rahm scored 3.5 points from five matches in defeat in Wisconsin and will hope to play a key role in helping Europe regain the trophy but the only other European to play five matches in 2021, Viktor Hovland, could be the man who leads the scoring this time around.
Hovland was a rookie at Whistling and didn’t win any matches, but his form over the last two years, and particularly over the last few months, hints that he will make a much greater impact this time around.
The Norwegian won the Memorial Tournament in June, then he claimed back-to-back wins in FedEx Cup playoff events in August before he warmed up for the Ryder Cup with fifth place at Wentworth.
He should be one of the cornerstones of this European team and could play all five matches again, while he might well team up with rising star Ludvig Aberg in a Scandinavian dream team.
Hovland appeals in the top overall points scorer market while Aberg is a worthy favourite to do best of the European rookies.
Collin Morikawa scored three-and-a-half points from four matches on his Ryder Cup debut in 2021 and the Californian could lead the way for the US and is another big runner in the overall market.
Morikawa, who could be paired with Max Homa on Friday, is well equipped to cope with conditions at Marco Simone, where his straight hitting should be rewarded.
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