Understanding the format of the Ryder Cup
The Ryder Cup is contested over 3 days. It is 3 days of goosebumps and excitement where matches change in the blink of an eye. The matchplay format allows players to play attacking shots, when in normal competition they may have opted to be cautious. It is all about putting your opponent under pressure and the more awesome your shot, the more pressure you pass across the field of battle.
So how will it work?
On day one the two Team Captains, Darren Clarke for Europe and David Love III for the USA will sit across from one another and take turns advising which two of their players will play in each of the 4 matches to go out that morning. So as an example, the USA may opt to put out Phil Mickelson and Matt Kucher first. Europe can then choose which of their players may perform well against this USA pairing. They may choose Rory McIlroy and Andy Sullivan. Their roles are then switched until they have 4 players nominated for each of the 4 matches to go out that morning. They will do the same after these rounds have been completed and choose their pairings for the 4 afternoon matches.
The first two days follow the same format with each game worth 1 point. A halved match earns each team half a point. In these first two days they play two matchplay formats namely foursomes in the mornings and fourballs in the afternoons. The Captains can strategically pick the best players in terms of experience, form and strategy. This can mean that some players in the Team might on play on the final day of singles.
Foursomes: Each Team of two uses only one ball between them. They then take alternate shots until the hole is completed. Team members take turns in teeing off on each hole, i.e. one player will take the tee shot on odd-numbered holes, and the other on even-numbered holes.
Fourballs: Each Team competes directly against each other. Each golfer plays their own ball throughout the round, such that four balls are in play. A team’s number of strokes for a given hole is that of the lower scoring team member. It is also known as best ball or more properly better ball.
And the winner is …
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) August 24, 2016
14½ points is the magic number for a Team to secure an outright win for the Ryder Cup. A draw on 14 points each means the Team who are the current holders of the Cup (Europe) would retain the title.
On the final day every player is involved in the 12 singles matches. This follows a straight match play format and is often the most riveting day of the 3 days. 12 matches worth 12 points.
That is how it works. Only a few more days to wait until the action gets underway. Until those first tee shots are struck. Until someone’s name gets written into golf history forever. Get your friends who don’t like golf because it is boring, to watch the Ryder Cup. It will change their opinion forever.