Ian Poulter to continue great record and Tiger Woods can finally shine

LOOKING at the European top points scorer market, it’s no surprise to see in-form world No1 Rory McIlroy heading the betting at a general 5/1. The Northern Irishman is in superb form, having won three tournaments, including the PGA Championship, in the last two months. He is likely to be paired with fellow countryman, good friend and 2010 Ryder Cup hero Graeme McDowell, with their partnership expected to reap rewards for Team Europe.

However, it’s a tight market and, owing to such a strong USA team lining up in Medinah, backed up by a hostile partisan crowd all baying to knock McIlroy off his perch, I think there is value in looking for a more experienced Ryder Cup player.

Step forward Ian Poulter. The 36-year-old may be one of the lowest-ranked players in either team at 26th, but he has one of the best Ryder Cup records of any competitor. In three appearances in the biennial competition the Hertfordshire-born hitter has holed the winning putt in 2004, scored four of Europe’s 11.5 points haul in 2008 and also finished overall top points scorer in 2010.

Poulter boasts a Ryder Cup record of won eight, lost three and halved none. He has never lost a singles match and, although it is no certainty he is going to be involved in every round, he is still worth backing at 8/1 on Betfair.

Europe can also boast a fearsome fourballs record and their domination of this team play looks set to continue. As examples, Luke Donald has won all six fourballs he has taken part in, and Sergio Garcia has a record of 8-0-1 from Ryder Cup foursomes matches. Selling the USA at 11.5 on the fourballs win market after session one with Sporting Index looks a fine bet. The make-up is 25 for a win, 10 for a tie and 0 for a loss, so a Europe win will give us a nice return.

Every two years you will hear pundits and commentators repeating the lines about Tiger Woods and his lack of enthusiasm for the Ryder Cup, as well as his general lack of interest in team tournaments. This argument can be backed up by stats that show

Woods has only been on the winning side once in six attempts and that he has lost more matches than he has won – 13-14-2.

Yet, that doesn’t paint the full story. The former world No1 has gradually warmed to the format and he has won six of his last nine matches. In addition, he has only ever lost one singles match. Clearly Tiger isn’t the all-conquering force that he once was but he is still ranked No2 in the world and knows his way around a green better than most. He heads the top American market at 5/1 with Coral and that looks a more than fair price.

Next best is Steve Stricker, who is a fantastic putter and is likely to partner Woods for at least the foursomes but is unlikely to play the fourballs and, although the 45-year-old comes to Illinois on the back a big win, he might be vulnerable against the younger Europeans. Phil Mickelson has a tragic Ryder Cup record and, if the Tiger is ever going to roar on the Ryder Cup stage, now is the time.

■ Pointers…
Ian Poulter to be top European points scorer at 8/1 on Betfair
Tiger Woods to be top American points scorer at 5/1 with Coral
Sell the USA at 11.5 with Sporting Index in the first session foursome market