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How does the Ryder Cup work?
Around the Academy:

The winning European Ryder Cup team
The 2004 team: Europe win in historic fashion
What is the Ryder Cup?

The Ryder Cup is the biggest golf tournament on the planet.

While the major events like The Open and The US Masters are competitions for the individual, the Ryder Cup is all about team golf.

These days Europe play the USA every two years to battle it out for the Cup. The competition takes place on alternate sides of the Atlantic.

This year the 35th Ryder Cup is held at Oakland Hills near Detroit. In 2002 Europe won at The Belfry near Birmingham.

How does the Ryder Cup work?

The European and US teams have 12 players each chosen by a captain.

It's up to the captain to decide who he wants to play in the 28 matches that are played over the three days of the competition.

Winning a match earns one point and whichever team reaches 14 points first wins the Cup.

How do you win a match?

Strokeplay golf, like you see at The Open, is all about the number of shots. Whoever takes the fewest wins.

Paul Casey
Casey is the man to attack and win

The Ryder Cup is a matchplay format. The winner is determined by the number of points they win rather than the shots they take.

Each hole is worth one point. If Tiger Woods takes five shots and Paul Casey takes four, Paul wins the hole and earns a point.

Paul is then said to be 'one (shot) up'.

If Tiger and Paul take the same number of shots, they earn half a point each. They are then 'all square'.

So after 18 holes whoever has the most points wins the match and earns a point for their country's total.

What kind of matches are there?

The most exciting thing about the Ryder Cup is that it's a team game in every sense.

Although on the last day every player will go head-to-head, there are also fourballs and foursomes matches. This is when you have 2v2 in each match.

Fourballs are exactly that. Each player has one ball and all four play the hole at the same time.

Whichever player takes the least shots, wins the hole for their team.

Foursomes are even more exciting as both players share the same ball and take it in turns to hit it.

What are the tactics?

Matchplay encourages more aggressive play as players are looking to win the hole outright. It's all about beating your opponent.

Luke Donald
Luke Donald is Mr Consistent

If your opponent hits a bad shot, then you can play more safely. But if they hit a good shot the pressure is on to try and match them.

In the fourballs each team has two players going for the hole. Players can afford to gamble as they look to take a winning advantage and make a birdie. Paul Casey is someone who is good at this.

In foursomes it's very different, that's when you need consistency. You need to keep the ball in play and avoid making mistakes. Expect Luke Donald to do well in these matches.

How much does the team play a part?

The pressure in the Ryder Cup is huge. Each time a player stands over a putt he isn't just playing for himself but for his whole team.

Having a good relationship with other players is crucial, particularly in the foursomes and fourballs matches.

The partners need to stick together even if one of them is playing badly. Sorry is a word that is hardly ever used.

It's all about the team.

Ryder Cup history
1927: The first official Ryder Cup match
1979: Great Britain and Ireland team become Europe to give them a better chance
1985: After a wait of 28 years Europe win the Cup from USA
1999: USA win in controversial circumstances when players run onto green
2001: Cup switched from odd years to even after 9/11 terrorist attacks in US

European team
Captain: Bernhard Langer
Padraig Harrington
Sergio Garcia
Darren Clarke
Miguel Angel Jimenez
Lee Westwood
Thomas Levet
Paul Casey
David Howell
Ian Poulter
Paul McGinley
Colin Montgomerie
Luke Donald

USA team
Captain: Hal Sutton
Tiger Woods
Phil Mickelson
Davis Love
Jim Furyk
Kenny Perry
David Toms
Chad Campbell
Chris DiMarco
Fred Funk
Chris Riley
Jay Haas
Stewart Cink

:: Ryder Cup course guide

:: Official Ryder Cup website

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