Ryder Cup 2018 explained

We’ve been spoilt with lots of exciting golf over the past few weeks. A particular highlight for me (and millions of other people across the globe) was definitely Tiger Woods winning his 80th PGA Tour title last Sunday when he won the Tour Championship in Atlanta by 2 strokes. Look out for a post coming soon about Tiger and his impact on my golf.

This Friday 28 September is the start of one of the biggest events in the golf calendar - the Ryder Cup. The format of this tournament is a bit confusing, especially for a newcomer to golf so I’ve set out how it works in the simplest way I can!



The Ryder Cup is a tournament that takes place every 2 years where Europe plays against the United States. Europe is often referred to as Team Blue and the US is Team Red. This will be the 42nd Ryder Cup.


The location alternates between Europe and the US. This year it will be taking place near Paris, France at Le Golf National. You can see a hole-by-hole overview here:


The Teams

Each team of 12 players is headed up by a captain. Thomas Bjørn is captain of the European Team and Jim Furyk captains the US team.

The teams are chosen based on a points system where players qualify automatically (the points systems used differs for the European and US teams) and the captain’s picks. You can see photos of the team here:


US team (Captain - Jim Furyk):

Brooks Koepka

Dustin Johnson

Justin Thomas

Patrick Reed

Bubba Watson

Jordan Spieth

Rickie Fowler

Webb Simpson

Captain’s picks:

Bryson DeChambeau

Phil Mickelson

Tiger Woods

Tony Finau

European team (Captain - Thomas Bjørn):

Francesco Molinari

Justin Rose

Tyrrell Hatton

Tommy Fleetwood

Jon Rahm

Rory McIlory

Alex Noren

Thorbjorn Olesen

Captain’s picks:

Paul Casey

Sergio Garcia

Ian Poulter

Henrik Stenson


Unlike most other golf tournaments, the Ryder Cup is only three days of play rather than four and works on a matchplay scoring system.

The first two days of the competition involve four-ball and foursomes matches.

Four sets of four-ball matches are played on Friday and Saturday morning and four sets of foursomes are played on both afternoons. Eight points will be available for each of these types of matches.

In the four-ball match there are four balls in play on each hole (as the name suggests). Two players from the European team pair up against two players from the US team. Each golfer plays their own ball and the lowest score on each hole is used to determine which pair wins the hole. If the lowest scores are tied then the hole is halved.

In foursomes, each pair plays with one ball per hole and the players take alternate shots. One player in the pair will hit the tee shots on even-numbered holes and the other will hit the tee shots on the odd-numbered holes. The pair with the lowest score on each hole wins the hole and if their scores are tied then, again, the hole is halved.

Given there are only 12 players but 16 of these matches in total, the captains pick players to play more than once in the same or different pairs. A player could play in all four sessions and play 72 holes across these first two days!

On Sunday afternoon 12 singles matches are played with one player from the European team against one player from the US team. The lowest score per hole wins and again tied holes are halved.

The winner or winning pair of each match across all the different formats wins a point.


There are a total of 28 points to be won over the three day tournament (8 for the four-balls, 8 for the foursomes and 12 for the singles matches). The first team to get to 14.5 points wins the Ryder Cup.

There are no extra holes and playoffs in the Ryder Cup. If the tournament ends in a 14-14 draw the team that previously won retains the Ryder Cup. The US team is currently the defending champion.


For the first time in Ryder Cup history all of the world’s top 10 will be competing in the tournament so it is definitely set to be a very exciting event!

Happy watching!