If it feels like the golf season never ends, that’s because the golf season never ends. The 2016-2017 PGA Tour schedule began the second week of October, and the final round of the Tour Championship is slated for September 24, 2017.
Don’t fear that you’ll miss a week of birdies and bogies, the President’s Cup begins the last week in September.
The tour does take a holiday break from Thanksgiving until the start of the New Year, but don’t think that means golf is on hiatus. Other non-PGA events fill the void, first and foremost: the World Cup of Golf!
During the last weekend in November, 28 countries will send two-golfer teams to Australia for a 72-hole stroke play tournament divided between a pair of rounds of four-ball and a second pair using alternate-shot.
Who will win the $2.56 million dollar first-prize? Let’s look at some top teams and their rosters.
2016 World Cup of Golf Odds
Jason Day won this event in 2013 but opted to sit out this year. That leaves Adam Scott and Marc Leishman to represent the home team. Scott won the 2013 Masters and has finished among the top-10 at 15 majors. He did not play particularly well at big tournaments this year, though. Leishman made the cut at three of four majors in 2016, and has three top-five finishes at elite events on his resume. It’s not an overpowering team, but it’s enough to make them co-favorites factoring in location.
United States: 4/1
Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker will lead the Stars and Stripes. Since a remarkable 2014 where he finished top-five in all four majors, Fowler has missed the cut at three and posted just one top-25 major finish. It’s hard to believe, but Fowler has just three career victories. Out of nowhere, Walker won the PGA Championship after being cut at the U.S. Open and Open Championship. Like Fowler, he had a very strong 2014 finishing in the top-10 at three majors. Prior to winning at Baltusrol, Walker (six career wins) was having a forgettable year. Like the Aussies, Team USA isn’t a juggernaut, but they still form the cream of a forgettable crop.
Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Jon Rahm might not be names that jump off the page, but they are very much a factor in this event. Cabrera-Bello is 32 years old and has two career European Tour wins, though none since 2012. He made the cut at all four majors this year though has never finished in the top-15. Rahm, who will turn 22 years old just prior to this event, was the low amateur at the U.S. Open and is ranked as the top amateur in the world. He won 11 college tournaments at Arizona State, and made the cut at the U.S. Open and Open Championship, his only two major experiences.
At the age of 29, Masters champ Danny Willett joins 43-year-old Lee Westwood (18 top-10 finishes at majors) to form Team GB. Willett did not play his best following his win at Augusta, though he has four victories on the European Tour. Westwood resurrected his career after playing poorly for most of 2014 and 2015. He finished just behind Willett at the Masters, and was competitive at the U.S. Open and Open Championship.
Japan’s duo of Hideki Matsuyama and Ryo Ishikawa are a very reasonable 10/1, as are the Swedish pair or Alexander Noren and David Lingmerth. South Korea’s An Byeong-hun and Kim Kyung-tae are 12/1. Veterans Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell of Ireland are a tempting 14/1 longshot, the same price as Thomas Pieters and Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium.
All other teams are at least 20/1 with the Italian tandem of Francesco Molinari and Matteo Manassero perhaps the most intriguing at 66/1.
Matsuyama is the 6th-ranked player in the world right now, the best among anyone in this field. Scott is ranked seventh, with Willett at number 10 and Fowler 11. Golf is a pretty wide open sport and I don’t like to take too short a price. Either of the 10/1 teams, England or Japan, offer value. Since Westwood is ranked 50 spots ahead of Ishikawa, I’ll put my cash on the Brits.
Photo credit: Keith Allison (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/].