What is the Ryder Cup?
While most of professional golf is a stroke-play individual format, the Ryder Cup is the ultimate team competition using match play format. It’s held every two year between teams from the United States against teams from Europe. The anticipated event is of great importance to the country and venue, which alternates from Europe and the United States.
Named after Samuel Ryder who donated the trophy, the first official Ryder Cup was held on American soil in 1927 at Worcester Country Club. Originally just a battle between the United States and Great Britain, players from Northern Ireland began participating in 1947 and those from the Republic of Ireland since 1953. The dominance by the United States ultimately led to include the remainder of Europe starting in 1979.
The inclusion of continental Europe evened the playing field and included players from Sweden, Germany, France, Denmark, Italy, Spain, Sweden, among others. This expansion evened the playing field and in fact Europe has won 11 times to United State’s 8 times since the expansion. Playing truly for the love of the game and country pride, the players don’t receive and prize money for participating in the Ryder Cup.
For the first 30 plus years, the Ryder Cup took place over the course of two days, with 36 hole matches each day. The number of holes was reduced to 18 per match with four matches in 1961 and was expanded to play out over three days in 1963. Four ball matches were introduced that year and the format was unscathed until 1977, when the match count was cut to 20. The current, 28-match event has been in play since 1979.
The fourball matches take place on Friday and Saturday. In the fourball match, all golfers play their ball entirely over the course of the round and best score of the two counts for their team. The first two days also feature foursomes, in which players alternate shots while playing the same ball. Sunday’s play is strictly singles, in which every member of both team competes in a head-to-head battle. If the Ryder Cup ends in a 14-14 tie, the cup is retained by the team who most recently won.
In the current format since 1979, the longest streak of holding the cup is three, achieved by the United States and Europe three times. Team Europe has won nine of the last 12 Ryder Cup matches.
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