Ryder Cup: Golf’s Most Exciting Team Tournament

James Bullis
By James Bullis on Oct 15, 2020

Golf’s Ryder Cup tournament has become one of the world’s great sporting events. The Ryder Cup is a biennial men’s golf tournament where 24 players from 2 teams composed of Europe and the USA compete head to head in a tense, drama-fueled competition. The camaraderie, the rivalry between the teams, and, of course, the incredible golf on display attracts thousands of spectators each year with millions more watching on TV.

The first official Ryder Cup tournament, named after English entrepreneur Samuel Ryder, was held in 1927 in Worcester, Massachusetts. At that time, it was Britain vs. the US and it took the British team 6 days to sail over there, with the US comfortably beating the travellers. The tournament followed that team model until 1979 when the British team was then expanded to include players from all of Europe. Even with that expansion of their player pool, the US team have continued their tournament dominance winning 26 competitions to Europe’s 14. With nearly 360 different players who have taken part in the competition, no year is the same and the excitement for the next tournament starts to build as soon as the previous one ends. But how does it work?

The tournament: With the competition spanning 3 exciting days, each of the first two days includes one four-match session of fourball and one four-match session of foursomes. The final day is for 12 singles matches.

  • Fourball – There are 2 players from Europe and 2 players from the US and each player plays his own ball, so 4 balls are live on every hole. Each team counts the lowest of its two scores on each hole. The team whose player has the lowest score wins the hole. If there’s a tie, the hole is halved.
  • Foursomes – Like Fourball, 2 players from Europe and 2 from the US participate and they play alternate holes, eg. one player from the US will take the odd holes and the other player will take the evens. The team with the lowest score on that hole wins it. If the scores are tied, the hole is then halved.
  • Singles – traditional golf. Each match features one player from each team. Lowest score wins and again, holes are halved if scores are tied.

The points: Over the course of the 3 days, there are 28 matches in total with each match worth 1 point. If the two teams are tied after 18 holes, each side earns half of a point. To win the famous cup, it’s the first team to reach 14 ½ points from the total 28 points up for grabs. If there is a 14-14 draw, the previous tournament winners retain the trophy! (A tie has only happened twice, once in 1969 with the US retaining the cup and most recently in 1989 with Europe retaining the cup).

The teams: The US Team is made up from the top six players in the points rankings in addition to six captain’s picks. The European Team consists of the first four players from the European Points List, followed by the leading five players from the World Points List, and completed by 3 captain selections. How is the Ryder Cup captain chosen?? For the US team, the captain is selected by the PGA of America. Europe’s is selected by the European Tour’s Tournament Committee, and the choice must be consented by the European Ryder Cup Players and Stakeholders Board.

The competition takes place every two years with the venue alternating between courses in Europe and the United States. The last Ryder Cup tournament took place in 2018 at Le Golf National in Guyancourt, France and the European’s were comfortably crowned champions after winning 17 ½ – 10 ½. The 2016 tournament was held in Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota where the US took the victory 17 to 11.

Due to COVID-19, the 2020 Ryder Cup tournament was forced to postpone until September 21-26, 2021. It will be held at the beautiful Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin and players and fans alike are eagerly awaiting its return. And Mac Sports Travel can take you there! We have packages available for next year’s Ryder Cup at the illustrious Whistling Straits—book something to look forward to!

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