Written by Square in the Air
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Friday marks the return of the Ryder Cup, the biennial clash between the top golfers in Europe and the USA, which is always a favourite with the fans. The Europeans head into proceedings as reigning champions, hosts and favourites, with their supremacy spread being pitched at 8-11 (10pts for winning, plus 3pts per point won by.) However, if the drama of 2012 is anything to go by – when the trophy was won after a memorable third day comeback by Europe – this tournament can never be considered a foregone conclusion.
The play will take place on the PGA Centenary Course at the Gleneagles Hotel, named the world’s best golf resort for the past three years. The 72-par course was designed by the legendary Jack Nicklaus, and comprises of 18 holes over 7,262 yards.
Paul McGinley and Tom Watson are on captaincy duties for Team Europe and Team USA, respectively. The former is fondly remembered for his famous ten-foot putt at the 2002 Ryder Cup at the Belfry against Jim Furyk which clinched the win for Europe. Though Watson was the USA captain in 1993, the last time they won on European soil, his wildcard picks have come under scrutiny. The decision to leave behind the in-form trio of Chris Kirk, Ryan Palmer and FedEx Cup winner Billy Horschel has baffled many, while the admittedly off-form Tiger Woods is another notable omission. By comparison, Europe’s squad is looking rather rosy with four of the world’s top-six players and three of the four Major winners this year all involved.
Rory McIlroy has had the season of his career, securing two Majors, and is the golden boy of the team. Ian Poulter, the man dubbed ‘Mr Ryder Cup’ has recently remarked he relishes this competition more than any others. It was his five-birdie streak at the 2012 tournament that inspired his side’s famous fight-back – the ‘Miracle of Medinah.’ While Bubba Watson was the only American to be crowned a champion in a Major this season, winning the Masters, his foul-mouthed meltdown in August’s PGA Championship doesn’t inspire confidence heading into the pressure cooker that is the Ryder Cup. Though they will have to be wary of complacency and a USA looking to exact some revenge for two years ago, home advantage and Watson’s selection choices makes the Europeans rightful favourites. Europe’s Outright Index can be bought at 17.25 (25pts for the winner, 10pts for a tie). However, the last two tournaments have been decided by the margin of a single point.
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