As impressive as the Europe fightback to turn Friday lunchtime’s 0-4 deficit into a less ominous 3-5 evening scoreline was, the historical precedents support USA’s installation as 4/9 Ryder Cup favourites.
Yes, Europe have prevailed in the previous three editions without leading after any of the opening sessions, but there is a huge difference between not winning it and eating a 4-0 loss. The last time that happened was when Arnold Palmer captained USA in 1975; he oversaw a 21-11 triumph.
This was the sixth instance of one of the sides navigating the initial four contests without incurring a defeat, and none of the progressively less encouraging precedents have seen the victors overturned, indicating that the tie at 11/1 is Europe’s best hope of retaining, rather than outright success at 5/2:
Only Billy Casper and Frank Beard prevented USA from trailing 4-0 after the foursomes, halving the final match, and that wedged just enough boot in the door to help the holders claw the score back to 16-16 and keep the trophy.
USA’s sole prior morning foursomes clean sweep was built on slightly better at Laurel Valley than Hazeltine, increasing their advantage to 6.5-1.5 in the afternoon. Further joy on Saturday meant that, even with a less ruthless Sunday singles showing, they were able to deliver 21-11.
USA didn’t grasp quite as much control on this occasion, tying two of the four to ensure that their lead was a less ominous 3-1, which Europe reversed by winning all four afternoon four-balls. The final outcome would show the insurance offered by an unbeaten start, as even with that horror afternoon, the score was 3-5, which they were able to pull back to 14-14 by the weekend’s close.
The first undefeated getaway of the 21st century was achieved by Europe, with three victories and a Paul McGinley and Luke Donald half pushing them three points clear. They dominated again in the afternoon to close Friday at 6.5-1.5, and transitioned that into an 18.5-9.5 Sunday supremacy.
After 1975, this is the most poignant example to USA. Two wins and two draws put them 3-1 up, and it was 5.5-2.5 by the end of day one, so not too dissimilar to yesterday. Even with Europe regaining ground, they remained ahead on Saturday and soared on Sunday for their lone triumph this century.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.