THE Ryder Cup starts on Friday and if Paddy Power are right the Americans shouldn't have even bothered turning up. Before the Yanks set foot on UK soil the Irish firm took the unprecedented step of paying out on Europe to win at Celtic Manor. They are that convinced it will be a stroll for Colin Montgomerie's men that more than 100,000 customers who backed Europe are already quids and can get set to play their winnings on some of the many markets available during the tournament. Paddy Power said: “At 4-6 Europe are far from a penalty kick but this is our show of support for Monty’s lads and we’re happy to line the pockets of all those who have put similar faith in the boys in blue.”

Europe are currently a biggest 7-10 at Ladbrokes with the US 7-4 at bodog and others and an unlikely tie paying 12-1 with Skybet.

Monty's men look the stronger side but the Americans individually are all supremely talented players so don't think it will be easy. Much depends on how Tiger Woods performs and mixes with the group in general after his much-publicised divorce. If Woods is on form – and he rarely is during Ryder Cups – and the Americans pull together it could all the way.

Meanwhile, Monty will be looking to his big guns such as Martin Kaymer, Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, Padraig Harrington and Lee Westwood to put some points on the board early. Harrington seems have to rediscovered his form just in time while Westwood has proved his fitness to Monty after an injury lay-off.

It promises to be a fascinating battle and one that could go to the wire.

I'll be tipping up the matches as the pairings are revealed but meantime you can have go at such things as top American, top Brit, top continental European, correct score and margin of victory.

Looking at two of these before the action starts I can't understand why Woods is favourite to top score for the visitors. His Ryder Cup record is poor and he's been out of form so ignore Skybet's 11-2 and instead try the man in form, Jim Furyk. I was impressed with the way he cooly wrapped up his win at the Tour Championship to finish top of the FedEx standings and collect £7million. He's the steady eddie and if he plays most of the rounds should pick up around four points. He is 8-1 at betfred behind Steve Stricker (6-1, bodog) and Phil Mickelson (6-1, sportingbet).

McIlroy is the European favourite but we have to remember he's a rookie and could be nervous on the opening day. He's young and fit and likely to play all five rounds so can't be discounted but I'd prefer his Irish pal Graeme McDowell who has been over the course before. McDowell also won at Celtic Manor earlier in the year and is a decent shout at 7-1 with bodog.

Another rookie Kaymer is also down to play five rounds and is 6-1 at Skybet while on-form Luke Donald is 8-1 with boylesports.

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