If you’re unfamiliar with the Ryder Cup, the format, match types and scoring can be a little confusing. This isn’t your average golf tournament, but the three-day format is part of what makes the Ryder Cup so special.
Each team has 12 players
Team USA: Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Jimmy Walker, Brooks Koepka, Brandt Snedeker, Zach Johnson, J.B. Holmes, Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar, Ryan Moore
Team Europe: Rory McIlroy, Danny Willett, Henrik Stenson, Chris Wood, Sergio Garcia, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Justin Rose, Andy Sullivan, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer, Thomas Pieters
The first two days are split into morning and afternoon sessions.
On Friday and Saturday morning, there will be a total of four “foursome” matches pitting pairs of two from each team against each other.
In the afternoon, there will be four “fourball” matches.
What is foursomes?
This is otherwise known as “alternate shot.” One of the two team members will take the tee shot on a given hole, and the players will then alternate shots until the ball is holed. Each pairing alternates taking tee shots - so one player will tee off on all odd-numbered holes, and one player will tee off on even-numbered holes.
What is fourball?
In fourball, each player uses their own ball the entire way through the hole, and the lowest score from each team is what is recorded for the hole. For example, if Jordan Spieth makes a birdie but partner Phil Mickelson makes a quadruple-bogey, Team USA’s score for the hole is a birdie.
How are the matches scored?
All Ryder Cup matches are played under a match-play format. Whichever team cards the lowest score on a hole “wins the hole,” and if the two teams post the same score, the hole is “halved.” If Team Europe posts birdies over the first two holes and Team USA cards pars, Team Europe would be “2 up.” The round continues through to the 18th, but if a team is more holes up on the scorecard than there are holes left to play, the match ends early.
What happens on Sunday?
If you only watch one day of golf a year, make it the Sunday of a Ryder Cup. On Sunday, all 12 golfers from both teams face off 1-on-1 in singles matches - meaning there’s a total of 12 points at stake.
How does Team USA or Team Europe win the Ryder Cup?
Each individual match is worth a point. If a team wins a match, they earn a point in the overall standings, and if the match ends in a tie, both teams earn half a point. There are 24 points up for grabs in total - four points in each of the morning and afternoon sessions on Friday and Saturday, and 12 points on Sunday.
To win the Ryder Cup, Team USA or Team Europe has to collect 14.5 points (or more than half of the total).
Can the Ryder Cup end in a tie?
Yes! It hasn’t happened for a while (1989), but the Ryder Cup has been split twice since 1927. In the event of a tie, the team that won it last retains the cup.