Monday, February 12, 2024

Donald Eyeing Ryder Cup Success Amid LIV Golf Fallout

Donald Eyeing Ryder Cup Success Amid LIV Golf Fallout

No nation on Earth has produced more elite-level golfers than the United States in the past century or so – a fact confirmed by the identities of the most prolific major champions in that timeframe.

But Europe has produced plenty of classy operators as well, and the fact that the continental team has won seven of the last ten editions of the Ryder Cup speaks volumes of the togetherness of their players.

The Europeans have won each of the last three editions of the event held on ‘home’ soil too, and with Italy on hosting duties later in 2023 there will be a hope that they can make it four.

Amid the ongoing fallout of golf’s civil war, Team Europe captain Luke Donald appears to have the upper hand on his American counterparts.

Upsetting the Odds

Curiously, America are favourites in the golf betting online for the 2023 Ryder Cup – and warmly so too at odds of 4/7, with Europe back at 15/8.

Those offering free golf betting tips will have done their homework and will know of Europe’s excellent record when playing in front of their own supporters, and it would be no surprise if the weight of predictions in favour of Donald’s men ultimately makes the betting market much closer by the time the action gets underway in September.

There’s an elephant in the room dogging Team America, too. Will those players who left the PGA TOUR for the rebel LIV Golf brand be allowed to play in the Ryder Cup? And will they be able to gel with those who perhaps look on them less favourably following their decision?

Brooks Koepka, the PGA Championship winner, and Dustin Johnson would be shoe-ins for selection had they remained on the PGA TOUR, while Patrick Reed – given his fine record in the Ryder Cup – would have been a potential wildcard pick of captain Zach Johnson.

It has been reported that LIV Golf players are eligible for Ryder Cup selection, but will Johnson want to upset the applecart by selecting them? He will have no choice but to pick Koepka given his world-ranking status, but others will be left biting their nails as they await news of the captain’s intentions.

Experience or Exuberance?

Donald may have a selection quandary of his own.

The qualification criteria for the European team ring-fences three places for those who perform best in DP World events – a tour that is now a poor relative of the PGA TOUR and LIV Golf.

That means that Donald may be forced to select inexperienced players such as Adrian Meronk, Victor Perez or Yannik Paul before throwing them into the cauldron-like atmosphere of the Ryder Cup.

There was a feeling that the European captain may also turn to veterans like Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood to add maturity to his roster, although the Spaniard has since claimed that Donald has already told him he won’t be considered for selection.

Europe has five players in the top 20 of the Official World Golf Rankings who will be auto picks providing they are fit, while Donald will probably call on the likes of Justin Rose, Tommy Fleetwood and Shane Lowry, who have stacks of Ryder Cup experience between them.

Team Europe will be free of the politics that could beset the Americans and they have home advantage – which has proven to be vital in the past. So there’s no reason why Donald & co can’t upset the odds in Italy this autumn.

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