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ryder cup format

What is the Ryder Cup format?

The Ryder Cup utilises a number of unique formats within the match play sphere that create high drama and consequence.

 

The Ryder Cup is one of the few match play events in which we see the best players in the world compete.

Team Europe and Team USA will collide in 28 different matches with the common goal of taking the gold trophy home.

The captains Luke Donald and Zach Johnson have thoroughly calculated each player’s attributes and will devise pairings based on a number of factors.

We know it is match play, but what format do the pairings play in, and how does this differ from each session? We explain a little more:

2023 Ryder Cup format

With 12 players on each side for Team Europe and Team USA, there will be five sessions with 28 points up for grabs.

The format is match play. If you win a match, you score one point and if you halve a match, you earn half a point.

On day one (September 29) and day two (September 30) of the Ryder Cup, there will be a session in the morning and a session in the afternoon.

They will be divided into sessions of four foursomes matches and four fourball matches, with the foursomes coming first in the morning.

In fourballs, each player hits their own ball and to put it quite simply, the best score on each hole wins and if there is a half for the best score on a hole, it is tied.

Not every player on each side is guaranteed to play on the first day, or indeed the second day, as form can dictate the captain’s pairings.

ryder cup format

Foursomes can also be referred to as alternate shot. One player in each pair tees off and their partner then hits the next shot, and so on.

The pairs alternate tee shots too, so one player tees off on the odd-numbered holes and the other tees off on the even-numbered holes.

On the third and final day of the Ryder Cup (October 1), the European team and the United States will play in 12 singles matches – 12 matches using the match play format too and every player takes part.

The American Ryder Cup team are defending the trophy in Italy and they will be looking to get to 14.5 points to win the Ryder Cup again.

If the team score is 14-14 at the end of the week, the USA will retain the cup as the defending champion – just as Europe did in the Solheim Cup last week.

How often is the Ryder Cup played?

The Ryder Cup is played every two years. Up to 1999, the event was played in odd years but the 9/11 attacks in New York in 2001 meant the event was postponed until 2002.

It was played in even years up to 2018, then the Covid-19 pandemic led to the 2020 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits being cancelled and moved to 2021.

The Ryder Cup is now set to be held in odd-numbered years for the foreseeable future.

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Matt Chivers

Matt Chivers

Now on the wrong side of 25, Matt has been playing golf since the age of 13 and was largely inspired to take up the game by countless family members who played golf during his childhood.

Matt is a member at Royal Cinque Ports in Deal playing off a 5 handicap, just a pitching wedge away from his hometown of Dover where he went to school and grew up. He has previously been a member at Etchinghill and Walmer and Kingsdown in Kent.

Having studied history at the University of Liverpool, Matt went on to pass his NCTJ Exams in Manchester a year later to fulfil his lifelong ambition of becoming a journalist. He picked up work experience along the way at places such as the Racing Post, the Independent, Sportsbeat and the Lancashire Evening Post.

Matt joined NCG in February 2023 and is the website’s main source of tour news, features and opinion. He has reported live from events such as The Open, the Ryder Cup and The Players Championship, having also interviewed and spoken to the likes of Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood, Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Henrik Stenson, to name just a few.

Consuming tour golf on what is a 24/7 basis, you can come to Matt for informed views on the game and the latest updates on the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour and LIV Golf.

What’s in Matt’s bag: Cobra LTDx LS driver, Cobra LTDx 3-wood, TaylorMade P7MC irons, Ping Glide 4.0 wedges, Odyssey putter.

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