2021 Ryder Cup predictions, odds: Expert picks as United States, European teams battle at Whistling Straits


The predictions have been made, the ballots have been counted and it’s time to unveil what’s (probably) going to happen at the 43rd Ryder Cup. With the United States fielding one of its most talented (but youngest) teams ever and Europe countering with one of its most experienced, there’s been much debate about the proper path to a Sunday celebration.

This narrative has been set for a while now, even before captains Steve Stricker and Padraig Harrington made their official picks. Youth and talent on the U.S. side. Experience and mettle for the Euros. Which strategy wins out could come down to how brawny Whistling Straits sets up and plays on the shores of Lake Michigan. Stricker and his vice captains will try to set it up to play right into the hands of a roster full of mashers. Harrington and his side will likely hope for whipping winds and a scenario in which flighting the ball is paramount.

The U.S. is going for its third Ryder Cup in four tries on U.S. soil while Europe is trying to make it eight of 10 overall. Each side is loaded with talent at the top, but the U.S. runs deeper all the way down its roster with no player ranked outside the top 21 in the Official World Golf Rankings. Europe can throw perhaps the two best players in the event (Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy) back at the American side, but it gets weaker toward the bottom, especially when you consider course fit on this massive ballpark.

With that in mind, here are our picks for the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits and how we see things going for one of the most-anticipated team events of the last few decades. Check out a full set of Ryder Cup odds via Caesars Sportsbook,  our breakdown of how the Ryder Cup teams stack up against one another and a complete Ryder Cup TV schedule through the weekend.

2021 Ryder Cup expert picks, predictions

United States MVP

Kyle Porter — Justin Thomas: His post-Open Championship run was solid, and the putter started coming around. It got lost (for obvious reasons), but he posted the same 4-1-0 record as Tommy Fleetwood in Paris as both made their Ryder Cup debuts. He wants the ball first and last, and there’s no chance he’s sitting any of the sessions, which makes him the easiest pick to collect the most points on the U.S. side. Odds as top point scorer: +900

Chip Patterson — Collin Morikawa: Nothing can phase the two-time major champion who I think will get at least half a point in every single session he’s out there, and if I’m captain Steve Stricker, that number is all of them. If something isn’t working right he can make changes on the fly — like he did with his irons the week before winning The Open after struggling to hit it out the turf in Scotland the week prior — and doesn’t seem to let pressure phase him based on his approach and performance when chasing or holding a lead in a tournament. Plus, with his demeanor, there’s not the same personality conflict concerns you have in other corners of the locker room. Odds as top combined points scorer: +1600

Kyle Boone — Patrick Cantlay: This is the first Ryder Cup appearance for Cantlay, and it couldn’t come at a better time coming off his incredible run in the FedEx Cup Playoffs and at the Tour Championship. Cantlay splashed just about every putt along the way. He’s not the best golfer in the field — he’s not even the best golfer among U.S. players — but he carries as much momentum as anyone in the field and ranks first among players on his team the last three months in strokes gained as Kyle Porter noted here. I like his chances here to be the U.S. MVP and like even more his odds you can get for him to be the top combined point scorer. Odds as top point scorer: +1100

Adam Silverstein — Jordan Spieth: So many choices, so many people not giving Spieth his due. Cantlay may have the recent wins, but Spieth got back to form this past season and is the type of golfer who can turn the tide for an entire team. He has an incredible clutch tendency where he bounces back from miscues on one hole with incredible shots the next. When you’re playing team events, that can not only be beneficial with your partner but particularly in singles when every point matters. Spieth is 7-5-2 in the Ryder Cup with more points than anyone else on the team. He and Thomas could rake together, and his leadership puts him over the top here. Odds as top point scorer: +1000

Jacob Hallex — Xander Schauffele: Xander has a tendency to really pop at these intimate events. The American is playing this week as a rookie but already owns an Olympic gold medal and a 3-2-0 record at the Presidents Cup. I expect Schauffele to be paired with Cantlay a lot this week, a combo that can bring a lot of excitement. It’s definitely worth a sprinkle on X to be this week’s top American player. Odds as top point scorer: +1200

Europe MVP

Porter — Viktor Hovland: The obvious choices are Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm, but I think Europe is going to have to ride Hovland’s ability from tee to green on this course. Plus, it seems like he might get some (maybe all) of his matches with McIlroy, which is always beneficial. Europe has had a big-time breakout star in each of the last three Ryder Cups, and Hovland is the easy choice here at lengthy Whistling Straits. Odds as top point scorer: +1600

Patterson — Jon Rahm: I’m not going to overthink this. There are other long hitters on the European side but none who you can trust to maintain the kind of control like Rahm. I mention that because I think Stricker tipped his hand on how the United States will set up the course in picking a handful of bombers to add to the squad’s length advantage off the tee. Rahm hits it far, straight and rises to the occasion when he needs to roll in putts under pressure. Real contrarian take here to pick the No. 1 player in the world who just won the U.S. Open and has 13 top-10 finishes to just two missed cuts in 19 worldwide events in 2021, but he’s the new face of this team. Odds as top combined point scorer: +750

Boone — Jon Rahm: Picking anyone else here is just a contrarian play. Rahm was the best player on the PGA Tour last season with four top-10 finishes in major championships and a win at the U.S. Open. Ranked No. 1 in the Official World Golf Rankings, Rahm has led the PGA Tour two consecutive years in strokes gained and has the most well-rounded game of anyone in the field this week. Odds as top point scorer: +750

Silverstein — Rory McIlroy: OK, call me a contrarian then. Rahm is the best player in the world right now, yes, but that does not mean he’ll be the best Ryder Cup player. There are other Euros with more Ryder Cup experience than McIlroy, but he’s the workhorse of the crew. And anyone who’s watched the last two knows that McIlroy gets fired up beyond belief for this event. He can match some of the American big bombers. He is deft enough to place the ball all over the green, and his skill allows him to make up for any potential miscues created by his playing partner. I’m not picking McIlroy to win a major here. I’m picking a guy who is only going to be a point-scorer but also an energy-provider and on-course leader. McIlroy is that for the Euros. Odds as top point scorer: +1100

Hallex — Viktor Hovland: What can I say, I like the kid! The future of Team Europe heavily involves Hovland. The Euros need to get younger when looking ahead, and where better to start than with the 24-year-old from Norway who thrived playing team golf at Oklahoma State. Hovland brings solid form this week and lacks scar tissue from Ryder Cup pasts. The Euros have the freedom of playing on away soil where they are not expected to win. Hovland ranked sixth on the PGA Tour last year in birdie average. He may “suck at chipping,” but if he is able to loosen up and fire away at pins, he will be a tough cookie to crack for the Americans. Odds as top point scorer: +1600

Rick Gehman is joined by Kyle Porter, Greg DuCharme and Mark Immelman to preview the 2021 Ryder Cup. Follow & listen to The First Cut on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Surprise prediction

Porter — Bryson DeChambeau will be reigned in. This will not be a surprise if you’ve been paying close attention, but it might be a surprise to the broader golf audience that doesn’t follow week to week. DeChambeau is not all that playable in alternate shot given how wild he can get off the tee. The U.S. tried it in Paris with him and Phil Mickelson, and they got torched 5&4 by Sergio Garcia and Alex Noren. DeChambeau will likely only play two or three matches, even though his length (theoretically) fits Whistling Straits perfectly.

Patterson — U.S. rookies will outplay the vets. In what already seems to be a real page-turning year in terms of the United States side and ushering in a new era, I think this Ryder Cup plays out with the six U.S. rookies taking the headlines and possibly outscoring the vets. “Vets” even feels like a little bit of a stretch when only Dustin Johnson (four prior appearances), Jordan Spieth (three) and Brooks Koepka (two) have multiple Ryder Cups under their belt, but I think there’s a chance for the enthusiasm of this young group (both in age and experience) to power a loose and more successful effort in this mentally challenging format. Obviously, I’m in on Morikawa to be the weekend’s star, but Schauffele and Cantlay are good for three points across four team sessions if paired together; Daniel Berger is prepared to take over as the instigator; and while I don’t know where Scottie Scheffler and Harris English fit for four-ball or foursomes, I can trust both to win in singles on Sunday. 

Boone — Brooks Koepka will have a great showing for the U.S. Sure, there’s lots of noise surrounding him leading into the event between getting called out by Paul Azinger for recent comments about the Ryder Cup, the wrist injury that forced him out of the Tour Championship, and oh, the ongoing feud with Ryder Cup teammate DeChambeau. But Koepka’s a four-time major champion who seems to rise to the occasion, and lost amidst all the noise, he’s coming off a stellar year in which he placed T6 or better in the last three majors of the season.

Silverstein — Euro’s veteran strategy will fail: The idea of the Europeans going with so many veterans is to combat the youth of the American side with steady golfers who are experienced in Ryder Cups. In the case of someone like Sergio Garcia, that’ll prove beneficial. The problem is that the rest of Europe’s roster doesn’t stack up with what the United States is bringing, so the additional experience is being leaned on instead of viewed as a luxury. As Chip noted, some of the Americans playing best entering the Ryder Cup are the youngest golfers on the team. That youthful vigor will be in adequate supply as the older golfers may be sluggish coming into this at the end of an exceedingly long season. Not to mention the younger Americans are stronger and longer off the tee, characteristics that are suitable for Whistling Straits. Expecting the Euro veterans to match that intensity while playing up to snuff and combating the wild galleries is not going to be successful and could wind up as a disaster.

Hallex — U.S. will flip the board on Sunday. I’m calling it now, the United States squad will not lead entering Sunday singles. The Europeans have made excellent strides over the past decade in integrating analytics into their selection and pairing process for the Ryder Cup. At the end of Saturday, it wouldn’t shock me at all if the Euros took a slight lead into Sunday. I don’t think it will be as dramatic as the Miracle at Medinah, but I think this will remain a little too close for comfort as the U.S. side ultimately pulls away late on Sunday afternoon. 

Winning side

Porter — United States (17-11): Two things stand out about this U.S. team. The first is that they are not only more talented than the Euro side (this is almost always the case), but they’re also far more suited to this golf course. The specific ways in which the U.S. is more talented sometimes doesn’t translate on the courses the Ryder Cup goes to in Europe, but it will here, and the U.S. will wear down the Matt Fitzpatricks and Ian Poulters on Europe’s team with sheer brawn off the tee. The second is that the shift from a team dominated by the personalities of Mickelson and Tiger Woods to a team dominated by Spieth and Thomas is significant. The previous U.S. generation never seemed to be able to give itself fully to this event like this younger generation has efforted. Spieth mentioned this generational transition in his press conference on Tuesday — how almost everyone on the team has known one another since grade school — that will be more meaningful than it seems, and it will lead to a hearty U.S. victory on Sunday. Odds: -197 | score odds: +1200

Patterson — United States (15.5-12.5): The individualism of the United States side of often cited as the reason why a group that has often had better players in terms of the world rankings has played down to Europe, while the European side seems to raise its level of play. I think that individualism is overtaken this year by a commonality that is lack of experience. Johnson and Spieth have seen some things on the course and behind the scenes, but for the most part, this group doesn’t have the kind of mental scars that could keep the team from playing to its potential. Odds: -197 | score odds: +1000

Boone — United States (16.5-11.5): The Americans are favored this week by an even greater margin than they were in 2018 when they fell in surprising fashion to the Europeans in France. The most likely outcome is not only a U.S. win but a dominant one at that with the U.S. team’s youth seemingly one of their biggest advantages over a European team that’s both older and less talented. Odds: -197 | score odds: +1100

Silverstein — United States (16-12): The Americans imploded back in 2018, but there were a number of factors that contributed to that. Home-course advantage does matter in the Ryder Cup, and I love the way the United States’ roster is stacked. Stricker has also assembled a tremendous set of vice captains who will imprint their experience on the youngsters rather than trying to “show” it on the course. It may not be as dominant a win as some expect because of guys like Rahm, McIlroy and Garcia, but talent will win out going away. Odds: -197 | score odds: +1100

Hallex — United States (16.5-11.5): I still have to believe that Team USA pulls away here and is victorious. Ignore the Miracle at Medinah and you have to look back all the way to 2004 since the Europeans last took home the Ryder Cup on U.S. soil. I believe the American side has maximized it’s home-field advantage as it will make the call in setting up Whistling Straits this week. Team USA should ultimately hoist the Ryder Cup on Sunday. Odds: -197 | score odds: +1100

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