Match Play Explained
If you don't know foursomes from four-balls, fear not for we explain the format, rules, terminology and more for the 2006 Ryder Cup.
September 14, 2006
Since 1927, the Ryder Cup has evolved from a friendly set of golf matches into one of the world's premier sporting events. The Ryder Cup was founded on prestige rather than prize money and spans 34 competitions over 79 years. Europe and the United States take turns hosting this biennial event, which means that the U.S. only plays host once every four years. Overall, only 18 courses in the United States have served as sites for the Ryder Cup, and no course or club has ever held the matches twice.
Over the last 11 competitions Europe has won six times, the United States has won four times and they have tied once. The Ryder Cup has produced some of the most exciting drama in the game of golf with two points or less separating the winning team from the losing team in eight of these matches. It has been said by the best players in the world that making a four-foot putt to win a Ryder Cup match is more difficult then making a 10-foot putt to win a Major Championship. People today believe that the demand for the Ryder Cup is so high because it is the only team event in the game of golf with a significant history. Sports purists love it for the camaraderie, the pride the players have for their country and the fact that the only prize is the Ryder Cup Trophy.
Rules, Format & Terminology
Play is governed by the 2004 Rules of Golf as issued by The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, and where applicable, by Local Rules. Match Play, including foursomes (two-man teams in alternate shot), fourball (two-man teams in better ball) and singles (18 holes at match play). The order of play during the first two days of competition (foursomes or four-balls) is determined through mutual agreement of both teams' captains. There are a total of 28 matches.
Match Play Guidelines & Terminology
Match play is a game that is decided hole by hole instead of cumulatively over 18 holes.
A hole is won by the team, which holes its ball in the fewer strokes.
Score is kept by the number of holes up (won) and the number of holes to play. (Example: U.S. 2-up, with six holes to play)
When a team is up (winning) by more holes than there are holes remaining, then the match is closed out and a point is awarded.
One point is awarded for each match won.
If the match is tied or "halved" through 18 holes of play, each team receives one half of a point.
A total of 28 points are awarded in Ryder Cup competition. If a match is currently tied while in competition, then it is considered "all-square".
A match is considered "dormie" when one side is up by the exact number of holes that remain.
A player/twosome is said to be 2-up thru 10 after winning two more holes than their opponent(s) through 10 holes.
A player/twosome is said to win the match 2-up after winning two more holes than their opponent thru 18 holes.
A player/twosome is said to win 3 and 2 after winning three holes more than their opponent(s) with only two holes left to play, assuring victory.
What are concessions?
A stroke, hole or an entire match can be conceded at any time prior to the conclusion of the hole or the match. Concession of a stroke, hole or match may not be declined or withdrawn.
How many points does one team need to win the Ryder Cup Matches?
There are a total of 28 matches. One point is awarded for each match won. The side with the most points at the conclusion of the Ryder Cup Matches wins the Ryder Cup.
Can the Ryder Cup Matches end in a tie?
If, at the conclusion of the Ryder Cup Matches, the teams are tied at 14 points each, the team who last won the Ryder Cup retains The Cup. In this year's case, Europe would retain The Cup. To win the Matches, either team will need 14 ½ or more points.
Foursomes (four groups of two-man teams)
"Foursome" play is a match where two golfers compete on a team against two other golfers and each side plays one ball. The golfers play alternate shots (player A hits tee shot, player B hits second shot, etc.) until the hole is played out. Team members alternate playing the tee shots, with one golfer hitting the tee shot on odd-numbered holes, and the other hitting the tee shot from the even-numbered holes. The team with the better score wins the hole. Should the two teams tie for best score, the hole is halved.
Four-balls (four groups of two-man teams)
"Four-ball" play is a match in which each member of the two-man teams play their own ball. Four balls are in play per hole with each of the four players recording a score on the hole. The team whose player posts the best score on that hole wins the hole. Should players from each team tie for the best score, the hole is halved.
Singles (twelve groups of one-man teams)
"Singles" is a match in which one player competes against another player. A player wins the match when he is up by more holes than there are holes remaining to play.
Each team captain submits the order of play for his team to the appointed tournament official. The lists from each captain are matched resulting in the pairings. Pairings cannot be changed unless a player is sick or injured.
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