Europe's key duo

Donald and McIlroy backed to shine for Europe at Medinah

By Tim Clement - Twitter: @SkyTimClement.   Last Updated: 26/09/12 8:56am

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Luke Donald (left) and Rory McIlroy: Europe's key duo

Luke Donald (left) and Rory McIlroy: Europe's key duo

Sky Bet

Skysports.com readers and bookmakers identify Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy to be the key figures in Europe's attempt to retain the Ryder Cup at Medinah.

The USA are favourites with six of the last seven hosts sides going on to lift the trophy on home soil.

But Jose Maria Olazabal's side are determined to retain their grip on the cup with world number one McIlroy the 5/1 favourite with online bookmakers Sky Bet to be Europe's top points scorer in Chicago.

Twenty per cent of readers who voted in a poll on skysports.com think the 23-year-old Northern Irishman will be Europe's top performer in just his second appearance, having picked up two points in 2010.

Donald is actually best backed with 21 per cent of votes having racked up an impressive eight out of 11 points from his three appearances, helping his side win on all three occasions.

The world number three is 11/2 second favourite with the online bookmaker to be the top contributor for his continent, with the added benefit of being more familiar than most with Medinah as a resident of Chicago.

Slightly further aback in the market is Ian Poulter (13/2), whose impressive match-play abilities have seen him rack up eight points from his 11 appearances for Europe.

Poulter attracted 19 per cent of votes ahead of Lee Westwood (11 per cent), who is relatively unfancied in the betting at 15/2 after finishing last at the Tour Championships and failing to make the cut at the recent PGA Championships.

Graeme McDowell, who famously helped regain the trophy at Celtic Manor in 2010 and is 25/1 to hit the decisive stroke again on the other side of the Atlantic, with Tiger Woods the 14/1 favourite to pick up the winning point or half point.

Woods is also the 8/1 favourite to be the overall top scorer in the latest Ryder cup betting and 9/2 to pick up the most points for USA, followed by Steve Stricker (7/1), Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson (both 8/1) and Bubba Watson (10/1).

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