Ryder Cup: The format explained

By Sports Desk September 22, 2021

The 43rd Ryder Cup begins at Whistling Straits on Friday a year later than planned, with Europe seeking to retain the trophy after hammering the United States in Paris three years ago.

Delayed by 12 months due to the coronavirus pandemic, golf's most famous team competition makes its long-awaited return after Europe's 17.5 – 10.5 victory at Le Golf National in 2019.

Ahead of the action, Stats Perform explains the format of the contest.

 

HOW THE POINTS ARE SCORED

A total of 28 matchplay contests will be played across three days, with each contest worth one point.

If a match is level after 18 holes, Europe and the United States simply take half a point each.

As holders, Europe need only 14 points to retain the trophy, while their opponents must reach 14.5 to regain the Ryder Cup.

FOURBALLS AND FOURSOMES

The first two days are all about teamwork.

On Friday and Saturday, the morning sessions will involve fourball matches, each team fielding eight players in four pairings.

The fourball format is often known as better-ball as each duo takes their best individual score on each hole. So, for example, if Rory McIlroy makes a three and Jon Rahm a four, it is McIlroy's score that counts.

After the morning fourball sessions, things get interesting in the afternoons as eight more players from each side combine for foursomes action.

In this format, the two men on each team share one ball and take alternate shots, which can lead to some apologetic words between colleagues if a poor shot is played.

SUNDAY SINGLES

A whopping 12 points are up for grabs on the final day of the competition as all 24 competitors go head-to-head in singles matches.

While the captain determines who features on Friday and Saturday, with some players heavily involved and others lightly used or even left out altogether, every single team member is involved on Sunday.

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    Former Masters runner-up Rickie Fowler claimed a two-stroke lead at the CJ Cup as Keith Mitchell surrendered his five-shot advantage on the third day in Nevada on Saturday.

    Fowler carded a nine-under-par 63 to be 21 under after three rounds and two shots clear of four-time major champion Rory McIlroy at the Summit Club.

    The 32-year-old American made his move on the front nine, with five birdies in six holes, finishing with a bogey-free round.

    It marked Fowler's best round in three years, and it was only the third time in his career he had hit all 18 greens in a round.

    "I haven't been there a lot the last couple of years, so it's nice to be back in that position," Fowler told reporters. "It's been a long time coming. It's been a long road, tough times. We're not done."

    McIlroy represents his main competition ahead of the final day, after an exceptional penultimate round with a 10-under-par 62.

    The Northern Irishman reeled off five consecutive birdies on the front nine before finishing his round with an eagle after a fine approach and 21-foot putt on the 18th hole.

    McIlroy is 19-under 197 after three rounds, ahead of Mexico's Abraham Ancer, USA's Robert Streb and Australia's Adam Scott by one shot.

    Mitchell slipped back to 17-under alongside Tyrrell Hatton, giving up his five-shot lead at the halfway point with a disappointing day.

    The one-time PGA Tour champion had dazzled with rounds of 62 and 64 on the opening two days but came back to earth with a one-over-par 73, which included two bogeys and two double bogeys. Mitchell sunk a 28-foot putt for birdie on the 18th hole to lift his spirits.

    Former world number one Jordan Spieth had been among the pack behind Mitchell after two rounds but he had also struggled with an even-par 72 third round.

    Spieth is eight strokes behind leader Fowler, following a frustrating round that included one birdie and one bogey.

    This year's Open Championship winner Collin Morikawa is 14 under, while former major champions Sergio Garcia (12 under), Brooks Koepka (11 under), Justin Thomas (10 under) and Dustin Johnson (nine under) are well off the pace.

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    The 31-year-old Englishman finished tied for second at the BMW PGA Championship in September, and now a maiden victory on the tour is a realistic target.

    A roller coaster four-under-par 67 in the third round allowed Canter to ease clear of the field and reach seven under through 54 holes, with Matt Fitzpatrick in second place after a one-under 70.

    Canter had eight birdies and four dropped shots in his round, but the score of the day was achieved by American David Lipsky, who shrugged off a bogey at the first and went on to make eight birdies on the way to a 64, seven under par.

    That put Lipsky on three under overall, in third place, with organisers stating his efforts matched the lowest round in the tournament's history, previously achieved in 2017 by Daniel Brooks and in 2018 by Sergio Garcia.

    Canter, who hails from Bath, will be wary of players behind him shooting such a low score on Sunday, but he will have few better chances to win a tournament.

    In 2019, Canter played just five events on the tour and won a mere €11,059, but two runner-up finishes last year put him in a far healthier position with €498,991 in earnings, and now Canter is close to breaking the seven-figure mark in a season for the first time.

    The €485,000 on offer to the winner at Valderrama on Sunday would send Canter soaring through that mark, and he likes the look of his cushion.

    "I think what it means is I can go out tomorrow and play how I have these last couple of days," Canter said, quoted on the European Tour website.

    "The score I end up on will be competitive, I think. That gives me a lot of confidence going in. The course is asking a lot of different challenges and you can’t dwell when it goes against you. I’m trying to stay as level as I can and I’m doing a good job."

    Those in the five-player group on two under will remain hopeful of a Sunday surge, and among them is the halfway leader Romain Langasque. The Frenchman went backwards on Saturday after a disappointing 73, but may not be out of contention.

    Alongside Langasque in a share of fourth place is Austrian Ryder Cup player Bernd Wiesberger, plus Min Woo Lee of Australia, Sweden's Sebastian Soderberg and Italy's Renato Paratore.

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    Keith Mitchell built a commanding five-shot lead entering the weekend following another impressive round at The CJ Cup.

    Mitchell carded an eight-par-under 64 to soar to the top of the leaderboard after the second round in Nevada on Friday.

    The one-time PGA Tour champion dazzled with a first-round 62 and the American backed that up by holing an eagle, seven birdies and just one bogey.

    Mitchell is the player to beat at the halfway stage after setting a new tournament 36-hole record at 18 under.

    "I spent a lot of time in the last few days leading up to this tournament working hard on my game and it's showing," said Mitchell, whose lone victory came at the 2019 Honda Classic.

    "I'm very thankful for that. Just shows you that hard work pays off as long as you're doing the right things."

    Former world number one Jordan Spieth (65), Kim Seong-hyeon (63), Harry Higgs (67) and Adam Scott (63) are Mitchell's nearest challengers at 13 under heading into Saturday's penultimate round.

    Spieth made his move late in the day with four birdies in five holes to earn a share of second position, while another former world number one – Scott – enjoyed a red-hot finish to his day after going birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie-par-birdie-eagle in his last seven holes.

    Scott's second round included a career-high 14 one putts, having played the final seven holes eight under – his best seven-hole stretch to close a round on Tour.

    Four-time major champion Rory McIlroy (67) shot his second round in the 60s to move into a tie for 19th position, nine shots behind Mitchell – alongside Abraham Ancer, who made an albatross on the par-five 14th hole, while Masters winner Hideki Matsuyama (70) and two-time CJ Cup champion Justin Thomas (67) are a stroke further back.

    American star Brooks Koepka lost ground following his two-under-par 70 which left him seven under, while Dustin Johnson bounced back from his opening-round 74 with a 66.

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