Presidents Cup Betting Preview: Day One Matches

Nick Price and Fred Couples (Courtesy: Zimbio.com)

Nick Price and Fred Couples (Courtesy: Zimbio.com)

The 2013 Presidents Cup starts on Thursday morning with six fourball matches, featuring all twelve members of both the American and International squads. The two captains, Nick Price and Fred Couples, made their pairings and matchups public on Wednesday, so let’s take a quick look at them and the odds for each.

Match One: Graham DeLaet and Jason Day (+135) vs. Brandt Snedeker and Hunter Mahan (-155)

In my original betting preview, I suggested that Hunter Mahan was my pick for top American point earner, but I also took DeLaet as the potential leader for the European side. I get why Snedeker and Mahan are listed as the favourites here, but in this spot, I really like the DeLaet/Day combination to come away with the first points of the tournament. Of everyone in the event, there’s an argument to be made that DeLaet and Day are the two most explosive. To be honest, I’d probably still take the International team here if the odds were reversed, so getting them as an underdog is a bonus.

Suggested play: DeLaet & Day +135

Match Two: Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama (-105) vs. Bill Haas and Webb Simpson (-115)

The only logicial explanation for why Haas and Simpson are the favourite here is that Matsuyama has never played Muirfield. It’s hard to think of him this way, but outside of Ernie Els, Scott is the senior man on the International side in terms of experience in the Presidents Cup, so I assume that’s the reasoning behind pairing him with the rookie. Matsuyama has a ton of game and there’s a good chance that he’ll surprise people here this week, especially if he plays with Scott and they get on a run.

For the Americans, I don’t really have a lot to say about Haas and Simpson. Haas has been brutal in match play situations over his professional career, compiling a 1-6-1 record, while Simpson has gone 8-6. Staying away from this one.

Suggested play: PASS

Match Three: Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel (+140) vs. Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley (-160)

The most obvious pairing of the week came in Couples’ announcement that Mickelson and Bradley would be playing together. With how well they played at the Ryder Cup last year at Medinah, it was a lock that they would be joined at the outset, especially after the glowing praise that Mickelson gave Bradley after they went 3-0 as a team last year. They both have an incredible ability to go low, and Mickelson will probably help Bradley out quite a bit when it comes to Muirfield. Bradley hasn’t exactly had the best of success here.

The International pairing here is interesting, as there’s no chance that they would be this much of an underdog if Oosthuizen had been healthy for the past few months. He withdrew from both the U.S. Open and the Open Championship with a myriad of injuries and didn’t play in the PGA Championship. Last week, he played in the Dunhill, his first tournament in over two months thanks to those health concerns and he missed the cut. He says he’s healthy, and if he is, him and Schwartzel will give Mickelson and Bradley a real run here, but until we know for sure, it’s tough to put any confidence behind him.

Suggested play: PASS, but slight lean towards Phil and Keegan

Match Four: Ernie Els and Brendon de Jonge (+130) vs. Jordan Spieth and Steve Stricker (-150)

Jordan Spieth was just over a year old when Ernie Els teed it up in the first Presidents Cup at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in 1994, and coming into this season, I don’t think many people would have predicted that these two would be facing off here this week, but Spieth’s incredible run really forced Couples into taking the 20-year old. Pairing him with Stricker, who usually draws Tiger Woods in these scenarios, is a perfect fit. Stricker will be able to shepherd Spieth along, not only because this is the first time he’s competed for his country as a pro, but also because he’s only seen Muirfield once. Stricker won the Memorial here in 2011 and should be the perfect compliment to him in both temperament and play style.

Els will also be working with a rookie here in de Jonge, although the Zimbabwean isn’t the traditional newcomer considering he’s 33 years old. There’s a thought that de Jonge was taken as a captain’s pick by Price because of his nationality, but he does belong here. He’s a consistent PGA Tour player despite not having won in his career, but this doesn’t appear to be the spot for him. Els has enjoyed some success here as a pro, winning nearly a decade ago in 2004, but I don’t see these two pulling it off.

Suggested play: Spieth & Stricker -150

Match Five: Angel Cabrera and Marc Leishman (+165) vs. Tiger Woods and Matt Kuchar (-185)

The big story coming into the week, as it usually is when it comes to team match play, was who Tiger was going to play with. He ends up drawing Kuchar and on paper, this appears to be a blowout win for the Americans, but I don’t see it that way. Tiger’s reputation as a poor match play player is overblown, but in a team setting, the record isn’t good at 24-28-2. Kuchar has been tremendous in match play, and with his win at the Memorial here this year, him and Tiger actually combine for six career titles at the course. That stat and the fact that Tiger is the best player in the world has led to this inflated number. So, why is it inflated?

The answer to that question is Angel Cabrera. I really believe that El Pato will be the difference maker this week because if he’s on, there is no one on the American team who will be able to beat him. If he’s off, he’s going to make you wonder why the hell he’s in the event in the first place. Playing with Leishman is interesting, as he is pretty much the International equivalent of Kuchar in that he’s a guy that doesn’t really do anything poorly, but he doesn’t wow you in any area either. When the captains picks were announced, I thought the pick was a mistake and I still think that Tim Clark was a better option, but that can’t be changed now. I think there’s some value here with Cabrera and Leishman, but I’m not confident enough in that to put anything on them.

Suggested play: PASS

Match Six: Branden Grace and Richard Sterne (+130) vs. Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner (-150)

Johnson and Dufner are the rightful favourites here, mostly because of how hot Johnson is right now. He’s finished outside the top-10 in one event since July, and Dufner’s been playing well enough that the -150 is justified. They are both very similar players, but if there’s one concern I’ve got with them it’s that Dufner has been terrible at Muirfield, missing the cut in both of his appearances at the course.

Grace has actually been pretty good in the small match play sample size that he’s put together, and he’s probably the best player in the world that most people have never heard of. Sterne hasn’t done much in the last few years because of a crazy set of injuries, but his bounce back year has put him on this team and back on the map. In terms of excitement, this match is definitely the worst of the six.

Suggested play: PASS, with a slight lean towards Grace and Sterne

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