Ryder Cup reality: Get a fast start or pray for a miracle

Recent history tells us that the team that leads at the end of day one will complete victory unless something sensational happens.

Linford Christie used to call it the B of the bang, a brilliant example of the mind transforming a physical situation.

The sprinter was a notoriously slow starter and he realised that his brain was at fault. It was operating slowly, waiting for the G of the bang to complete before he left the blocks.

When he exploded on the B of the bang everything changed.

It's not a situation that especially transfers to the Ryder Cup, but in the match's recent history a fast start has been crucial.

Consider the numbers: seven of the last ten first day leaders went on to convert the victory.

It's also seven of nine in the 21st century and seven of eight when you consider that in 2010 the first session took two days to complete (so very much has an asterisk alongside it).

They are striking numbers and closer inspection of the exceptions further highlights how difficult it is to overcome an early deficit.

The first anomaly was the 1999 match in which Europe had powered into a 6-2 first day lead and remained four points clear going into the singles whereupon the Battle of Brookline exploded into life.

The American comeback was unprecedented (no other team had won from more than two points back with the singles to play) and although it was not labelled miraculous (that would come later), it pretty much was and three factors were critical.

The first was an electrifying performance from the home team, the second a febrile atmosphere which they responded to (and which frazzled the visitors), the third was a big helping hand.

Because the European captain Mark James threw in his lot with his experienced performers and it worked for two days. But seven of that team played all five sessions and three were ignored until Sunday. Those 10, either knackered or demoralised, would contribute only two points in the singles.

The second exception was 2012 and we know how outlandish that was because it's been branded the Miracle of Medinah, an astounding fightback completed by the likes of Ian PoulterRory McIlroy and Justin Rose.

The third was the chaos at Celtic Manor when the first session began early Friday, was suspended shortly after, resumed at 5pm and was eventually completed on Saturday morning.

In other words, it needs something utterly preposterous from the players, captain or the heavens to overcome a first day deficit.

Let's take a look at the last 10 matches (from 1999 onwards) to see if there is anything more we can learn (and any way we can apply it to our advantage).

The first session

An intriguing pattern. Europe won the first session every year from 1999 to 2006 and the US has won every first session since with the exception of 2012 which was tied.

The US leads 5-4 and 3-2 on home soil.

Another way of looking at it is that Europe has lost five of the last six, a run which gives this price some appeal

The first foursomes session

Of course, it's not always been the case that the event has kicked off with the alternate shot format. In fact, it's happened in just four of the last 10 Cups. The US again lead the way with two wins, that half, and a European win back in 2006.

The first day

Europe might have recent history of making a slow start, but they pull their socks up quickly.

The end of day one count reads: Europe six, USA four.

Within that you could make a case for both sides having some recent dominance because the US have led in four of the last six and Europe in two of the last three.

The US has also led after day one in each of the last three matches on home soil.


If you fancy Europe to win this week the outright price will suit you fine, stick with it.

If, however, you believe the US will win, the 1/2 on offer may well feel tight, but given these end-of-the-first-day stats perhaps the way to go is backing them to lead at the end of all three days, available at 15/8 with PaddyPower.

READ MORE: Europe Ryder Cup build-up: The best quotes and social from Whistling Straits

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