Ryder Cup

Ryder Cup matches and format explained

The Ryder Cup is a team match between the U.S. and Europe that takes place every two years, alternating venues between the U.S. and Europe that are decided upon years in advance of the matches.

U.S.-born players make the team through a two-year, point-getting process explained here, but these are the key qualifying scenarios:

- The Top Eight: Eight of the 12 members of the U.S. Team will be named on points earned following the conclusion of The Barclays, which is scheduled to conclude Sunday Aug. 28, 2016. This new timetable gives two additional weeks for players to earn Ryder Cup qualifying points.

RELATED: How the matches and formats work | Timeline of key dates/eventsLatest U.S. points standings

- Captain's Picks: U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III will select three of his four Captain's Picks after the conclusion of the BMW Championship, which is scheduled to conclude on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016. His fourth pick will take place Sunday evening after the TOUR Championship, Sept. 25, 2016. This new timetable also is pushed back two weeks.

The European team is decided a little differently. As of May 26, 2015, it will include:

- The leading four players on the Ryder Cup European Points List
- Points earned in all Race to Dubai tournaments starting with the 2015 M2M Russian Open
- The leading five players, not qualified above, on the Ryder Cup World Points List
- Total World Rankings Points earned in Official World Golf Ranking events starting on 3 September 2015 (the start date of the M2M Russian Open)
- Three captain's picks
*It has yet to be decided which will be the final events in which points can be earned.

As for the format of the matches, it shakes out like this:

On the first two days, there will be a morning session and an afternoon session. One session will consist of fourball competition -- or "better ball" -- where two players from the U.S. take on two players from Europe, each playing his own ball. The lowest score for each side will be used as the score for each hole.

MORE: Ryder Cup past results | Team USA All-time records | Team USA All-time Player records

The other session will consist of foursomes, or -- alternate shot. Two players from the U.S. square off against two players from Europe. Before the first tee shot is it, both teams pick a player on each side to hit tee shots on the odd numbered holes and the other hits tee shots on the even numbered holes. Shots are alternated between team members until the ball is in the hole.

The order of which format is played first on the first two days of competition is determined by the captain of the home team. In 2016, U.S. Captain Davis Love III will determine the order.

After the two days of team play, the final session on the last day of the competition is reserved for 12 singles matches -- one on one.

In all sessions of the Ryder Cup, each match is worth one point. Matches do not go extra holes in a Ryder Cup. If the match is tied after 18 holes, it is considered "halved" and each team receives 1/2 a point.

In all, 28 points are up for grabs in the competition. The first team to reach 14 1/2 points wins the Ryder Cup. Should the matches end in a 14-14 tie, the winning team from the previous Ryder Cup retains the Ryder Cup.

Should there be a 14-14 deadlock in the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National, Europe would retain the Ryder Cup.