Ryder Cup Format Explained: How Does it Work?

The Ryder Cup is one of the most highly anticipated sporting events of the year, featuring some of the best golfers in the world pitted against each other. However, it’s not just any golf tournament. Things work a little differently in the Ryder Cup and it can be slightly confusing at first. Here is everything you need to know about the Ryder Cup format.

Golf’s Leading Team Tournament

Unlike other major tournaments where players compete individually, the Ryder Cup is a team competition featuring Team Europe and Team USA. The USA have opened up as Ryder Cup favourites at -110 following their emphatic 19-9 victory at Whistling Straits in 2021. Despite not having been beaten on home soil since 1993, Europe will go into the contest as +125 underdogs. The last Ryder Cup draw was a 14-14 tie in 1989, with the odds currently at +1200 for another draw in Rome.

Each team is made up of 12 players. Six of these qualify through performance and ranking points, while the other six are selected by the captain as wildcard picks. Team Europe features some of the world’s best like number two-ranked player Rory McIlroy and Masters champion Jon Rahm, with captain Luke Donald opting for the likes of Shane Lowry and Tommy Fleetwood as his wildcards.

Team USA also has a stacked pool of talent, including world number one Scottie Scheffler and US Open winner Wyndham Clark. Among the wildcard picks are LIV golf talent Brooks Koepka and three-time major champion Jordan Spieth.

Eight Four-Balls

The four-ball format sees six pairs picked for each team. The 2v2 match takes place across 18 holes, with four balls in play on every hole. The lowest score shot by each team is chosen and the team with the lowest score wins.

For example, Fleetwood and McIlroy take on Scheffler and Morikawa on a par four. If Fleetwood shoots four and McIlroy shoots three, the latter is counted as Team Europe’s score. If Scheffler and Morikawa both shoot par (four), Team Europe win the hole. If the low scores from each team are the same, the hole is halved. The team that has won the most holes at the end of the round wins a point, with half a point awarded to each should the score end all square.

Eight Foursomes

Foursomes sees the pairs take part in what is commonly known as an alternate ball scramble. Each team plays one ball per hole, taking it in turns to hit shots. For example. Scheffler tees off with driver, Morikawa hits a nine iron from the fairway, and Scheffler putts. The team that scores the lowest wins the hole. At the end of 18 holes, the team that has won the most holes earns a point.

Twelve Singles Matches

The third and final day features 12 one-on-one matches. Players from opposing teams face off against one another in a match play game, once again meaning that the lowest score on a hole wins that hole. Each match is worth one point.

There are 28 points up for grabs in the Ryder Cup, meaning the first team to reach 14 1/2 points claims the trophy. If the tournament finishes 14-14, the previous champion retains their title.

Christopher Stern

Christopher Stern is a Washington-based reporter. Chris spent many years covering tech policy as a business reporter for renowned publications. He has extensive experience covering Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Federal Trade Commissions. He is a graduate of Middlebury College. Email:[email protected]

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