Ryder Cup scoring: The points system explained

Jack Rosser
How the scoring system works: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

The Ryder Cup returns to Europe in September as Team USA travel across the Atlantic for the biennial dust-up.

European captain Thomas Bjorn will lead his underdog side against Jim Furyk’s Americans as they look to reclaim the trophy lost at Hazeltine two years ago.

Standard Sport runs you through how the Ryder Cup is played and won…

Match play

Unlike tradition Tour events the Ryder Cup is played as a match play event.

Instead of a player’s score being however many shots it takes they to play the 18 holes, the score is dependent on holes won and lost.

For example, whichever of the two players, or groups depending on which format is being played (more on that in a moment), scores lowest on the first hole would go to the second one up through one. Should both players make the same score they would move on all-square.

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In the case that one player is dominating the match, it may not reach the final few holes. In this instance the score would read something like 3&2, meaning the match has been won with a player or group three up with two holes to play.


The Ryder Cup is split into five sessions. Each of the first two days are made up of one four match session of four-ball golf and one four-match session of foursomes golf, with one played in the morning and the other after lunch.

Pair | Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter played alongside one another on the Saturday afternoon at Medinah in 2012 (AFP/Getty Images)

Sunday, however, is reserved for 12 singles matches, meaning every player on each side will play at least one session over the three days.

The captains decide their pairings for the four-ball and foursomes sessions and dictate the order in which their singles players go out onto the course.

Point scoring

Across the three days of the Ryder Cup there are a total of 28 matches, meaning there are 28 points up for grabs.

Unlike in stroke play where, should there be a tie, play will continue to further holes until a winner is decided, players simply take half a point each.

Points needed to win

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In order to win the Ryder Cup either side must notch a minimum 14½ points. In the case of a 14-14 draw the holders going into the tournament, in the case the USA, will retain the cup.