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updated: 9/24/2012 6:33 PM

Understanding the Ryder Cup format

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Here is a glance at the format for the 39th Ryder Cup. There will be a total of 28 matches played in three different forms of match play.

Friday, Sept. 28

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• 4 morning matches (Foursome) begin at 7:20 a.m.

• 4 afternoon matches (Four-Ball) begin at 12:05 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 29

• 4 morning matches (Foursome) begin at 7:20 a.m.

• 4 afternoon matches (Four-Ball) begin at 12:05 p.m.

Sunday, Sept. 30

• 12 single matches begin at 11:03 a.m.


"Foursome" play involves two golfers on a team against two golfers from another team and each side plays one ball. The golfers play alternate shots until the hole is played out. Team members alternate playing the tee shots on odd and even holes. The team with the lower score wins the hole. Should the teams have the same score, the hole is halved. This format is played on Friday morning and Saturday morning. Four 2-man teams from the U.S. will play against four 2-man teams from Europe each day.


"Four-Ball" play is a match in which each member of the two-man teams plays his own ball. Four balls are in play on each hole. The lowest score from each side will represent the score for the side. The side with the lowest score wins the hole. Should players from each side tie the lowest score, the hole is halved. The "Four-Ball" format is played on Friday afternoon and Saturday afternoon.


A "single" is a match in which one player from the U.S. Team competes against another player from the European Team, each playing his own ball. The player with the lowest score on each hole will win the hole. A player wins this head-to-head competition when he is up by more holes than there are remaining to play. On Sunday, all 12 team members from the U.S. Team will compete against the 12 team members from the European Team.

Declaring a winner

Points: Europe needs 14 points to retain the Ryder Cup trophy. The United States needs 14 points to win it.

Series: United States leads 25-11-2.

Source: PGA of America

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