Golf: RYDER CUP: Format, foursomes and fourballs: a quick guide to the Ryder Cup

Click to follow

12 players each from America and Europe.


Matchplay, featuring 28 different matches: four morning foursomes and four afternoon fourballs today and tomorrow; 12 singles on Sunday.


No cumulative scores as in medal play; holes won, lost or halved. Match status described as, say, one-up or two-down; match results recorded as 3 and 2 (three holes up but only two holes to play), or one-hole, etc.


Each partner takes alternate shots until the hole is completed. One player tees off at the odd holes, the other on the evens.


Both players play their own ball, the lower score on each hole counting as the team score.


One team is `dormie', meaning that they cannot be beaten, if they lead by the number of holes left to play. No matches go to extra holes.


28 available (one per match, 1/2 point each for tied matches). Europe need 14 points to retain the Cup, US need 141/2 to regain the Cup.


For each series of matches, the two captains submit their line-ups (in order, one to four for the foursomes and fourballs and one to 12 for the singles) independently of each other. Their lists are then put together to decide who plays who.


On Saturday night, the captains each nominate a player, possibly one who is injured, to go in the `envelope'. Should one of those players be unfit to play, both are removed from the draw and their match is deemed a half. If a second player is unfit to play, his match is forfeited to the opposition.


Europe, after their 141/2-131/2 victories at Oak Hill in 1995 and Valderrama two years ago. The Americans last held the Cup after victories at Kiawah Island in 1991 and The Belfry in 1993.


Presented in 1927 by St Albans seed merchant Samuel Ryder to the Professional Golfers' Association for a competition between the British and American pros. It is 17in tall, weighs 4lb and is made of gold. The golfer depicted on the top is Abe Mitchell, friend and personal instructor to Ryder and who should have been the first British captain but for going down with appendicitis.


The first of 32 previous matches took place in 1927 when the British team sailed to the States after a subscription raised by Golf Illustrated magazine. After America won 18 of the first 22 matches, Great Britain and Ireland expanded to include continental Europeans. Europe has won four and tied one of the last seven matches.