Wednesday 22 September 2021 4:37 pm

Ryder Cup 2021: History shows that being the underdog has never stopped Europe, who have upset the odds in five of the last nine matches with the USA

Anyone paying even the slightest attention to this week’s Ryder Cup cannot have missed the fact that the USA are red-hot favourites.

Steve Stricker’s team boast eight of the world’s top 10 players and have home advantage,a factor likely to be amplified by the Covid-enforced absence of many European fans.

Listen to some of the predictions for the biennial showdown and you could be forgiven for thinking this Ryder Cup was a foregone conclusion.

But history shows us that it is anything but. Star-studded USA teams are routinely priced up as the most likely winners, only to be beaten time and time again by less celebrated European line-ups.

Historical data provided to City A.M. by bookmaker Betfair illustrates that the Americans have started as favourites in five of the last nine Ryder Cups yet won just twice.

Two of Europe’s seven victories in that period, meanwhile, have come at even longer odds than being offered for this week’s contest at Whistling Straits.

When Europe have won the Ryder Cup as outsiders in the betting

Europe’s longest-priced win came at the Belfry in 2002 when, captained by City A.M. columnist Sam Torrance, they defied odds of 11/5 to win by their biggest margin since 1985.

Bernhard Langer’s team were 2/1 heading to Oakland Hills two years later, only to race into an early lead and trounce Hal Sutton’s USA by a record 18½ to 9½ margin. 

In their most famous Ryder Cup victory of recent times at Medinah in 2012, Europe started as 17/10 outsiders and roared back from 10-6 down on Saturday evening to stun Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and team-mates 14½ to 13½.

And most recently, at Le Golf National three years ago, Europe were priced at 7/5 to beat another celebrated US line-up but romped home 17½ to 10½.

They have also won as favourites three times. Paul McGinley’s side more than justified odds of 7/10 by winning 16½ to 11½ at 2014 at Gleneagles. In 2006 at the K Club they were evens before another 18½ to 9½ win and were the same price in 2010 at Celtic Manor, where they edged USA 14½ to 13½ in a match that went to the wire.

When USA upset the odds too

The USA did justify 7/10 favouritism five years ago at Hazeltine, when Davis Love III’s team won handsomely, 17-11, and even upset the odds when 13/10 outsiders at Valhalla in 2008, when Paul Azinger’s team ended a run of three European wins 16½ to 11½.

This time around Europe are priced 6/4 by Betfair to retain the trophy and make it eights wins from the last 10 matches. Underdogs Padraig Harrington’s team may be, but that should not trouble them too much.

For Betfair’s latest Ryder Cup odds, visit the website here.

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