Capt. Zach Johnson’s Picks Shift Ryder Cup Odds in Favor of US

Posted on: August 29, 2023, 04:27h.

Last updated on: August 29, 2023, 04:27h.

The US Ryder Cup team was officially determined today with captain Zach Johnson choosing Brooks Koepka, Sam Burns, Rickie Fowler, Collin Morikawa, Jordan Spieth, and Justin Thomas as his six captain’s picks. Europe’s captain, Luke Donald, will unveil his six captain’s selections on Monday, Sept. 4.

Ryder Cup Team US Justin Thomas
US Ryder Cup captain Zack Johnson’s six captain’s picks are in. They are (left to right) Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, Brooke Koepka, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, and Sam Burns. (Image: Ryder Cup)

Though the European team has yet to be finalized, oddsmakers in both the US and Europe where the biennial showdown attracts much wagering action are already deeming the US squad as the betting front-runner.

In the US, leading sportsbooks DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, and Caesars Sportsbook all have the Americans favored to win the Ryder Cup. The consensus line is around -130 (10/13). The line implies a winning chance of about 57%. A winning $100 bet would net $73.

Since the US is the defending Ryder Cup champions, they only need a tie to retain the coveted trophy. The US, however, hasn’t won the Cup on foreign soil since the 1993 match at The Belfry where the Americans snuck out a 15-13 point win over the Europeans. Tom Watson captained that squad.

European oddsmakers agree that the US looks good on paper. William Hill, a leading bookmaker in the UK, has the US favored at -140. Leading Irish bookie Paddy Power has it a bit closer, with the US at -120.

Johnson’s captain’s picks joined the six automatic qualifiers who played their way onto the team. They are Scottie Scheffler, Xander Schauffele, Max Homa, Brian Harman, Wyndham Clark, and Patrick Cantlay.

The Ryder Cup will be played at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club in Rome, Italy, from Sept. 29 through Oct. 1. The six automatic qualifiers for the Europeans are John Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Viktor Hovland, and Tyrrell Hatton.

JT Pick Causes Uproar

Though the betting experts believe Johnson rounded out his team adequately with his six picks, many golf fans in the US became enraged following his decision to pick Thomas.

JT, as Thomas is affectionally known, is one of the more popular players in the US. But his down year, which saw him miss three of the four major cuts and miss the FedExCup Playoffs, resulted in many fans saying Johnson should have picked a hotter stick.

Lucas Glover and Keegan Bradley were two names most cited as worthier picks. Glover won back-to-back this month at the Wyndham Championship and FedEx St. Jude Championship. He finished T18 in the season-long FedExCup standings.

Bradley won the Travelers in June and finished T9 in the FedExCup race.

Cameron Young was also overlooked despite finishing 9th in the US Ryder Cup standings. That was four spots ahead of Fowler, three ahead of Burns, and six ahead of Thomas.

‘Boys Club’ Allegations

Many critics of Johnson’s picks said it’s further evidence that golf is divided, and the PGA Tour is run by a so-called “boys club.”

Hank Haney, Tiger Woods’ former swing coach, said as such today. Thomas is one of Tiger’s closest friends and many believe Woods had a strong influence on Johnson’s picks.

“Those picks confirm it’s the Boys Club,” Haney said on X.

Bradley also weighed in.

I thought I put together a really good year. I’ve always been an outsider in the sport but I have tried to get closer to the guys I thought would be on the team. I feel like moving forward I’m going to have to automatically qualify for the Ryder Cup,” Bradley told the Golf Channel.

But he added that Thomas “is a generational talent” and that he will still be “pulling for the US team.”

Glover wrote a simpler message on X.

“Thanks for all the support. I’m very grateful to everyone for continuing to believe in me,” he posted with the hashtag “#Year20.”

Freddie Couples, one of Johnson’s co-captains who is also one of Woods’ closest friends, said just last month that “Cam Young will be in Italy.” Johnson said the phone call telling him otherwise was especially difficult, but Young handled it with “nothing but class.”

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