ryder cup scoring

How Does Ryder Cup Scoring Work?

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.

Below we will dive into the different games played between the two competing teams in the Ryder Cup which includes Foursomes, Fourball. Every day is scored using match play.

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What is the Ryder Cup?

Held every other year — alternating between Europe and the states — the Ryder Cup is a three-day team event, featuring many of the sport’s best golfers as they compete for country and continent in a variety of individual and team match play events.

How Are Ryder Cup Teams Selected?

Each team consists of 12 players. Here are the guidelines from Rydercup.com on how the U.S. selects members for it’s Ryder Cup team:

All U.S. players will have the opportunity to earn points beginning in 2017 and concluding August 12, 2018.

  • 2017 Major Championships 
    • 1 Point per $1,000 earned
      • The Masters; U.S. Open; Open Championship; PGA Championship
  • 2017 WGC Events and The Players Championship
    • 1 Point per $2,000 earned
      • WGC-Mexico Championship; WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship; The Players Championship; WGC-Bridgestone Invitational; WGC-HSBC Champions
  • 2018Regular PGA Tour events
    • 1 point per $1,000 earned
      • Beginning January 1, 2018, through the PGA Championship, August 12, 2018; includes the Zurich Classic of New Orleans team event and WGC events
      • 2018 Opposite Field PGA TOUR events will NOT receive points
  • 2018 Major Championships 
    • 2 Points per $1,000 earned for the Winner
    • 1.5 Points per $1,000 earned for all others to make the cut
      • The Masters; U.S. Open; Open Championship; PGA Championship

The four (4) remaining slots on the U.S. Team will be Captain’s Selections.

What Games Are Played Over the 3 Days?

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.

Ryder Cup 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.

Ryder Cup 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 Ryder Cup 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.”

For example, if Team USA birdies the first hole and Team Europe makes par, then the USA team wins the hole and goes “1 UP.”

This continues through to the 18th hole, 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 in the Ryder Cup?

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.

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