Ryder Cup 2012 Format: Complete Guide to Sunday's Action

Steven Gerwel@Steve_GerFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 30, 2012

MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 29:   Tiger Woods of the USA chats with his caddie Joe LaCava during day two of the Afternoon Four-Ball Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 29, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Ryder cup is a biannual golf tournament where the United States takes on Europe in a variety of events golf. 

The tournament does not have a permanent home, but the 2012 Ryder Cup is being hosted by the beautiful Medinah Country Club, located in the suburban city of Medinah just outside of Chicago.

The tournament is unique since golfers are no longer playing for just themselves, as in typical tournaments, but rather fighting for a team victory. 

The tournament is held over a three-day period from Friday to Sunday, and each day holds a different event. Sunday features just one event, while Friday and Saturday are broken into two sessions—morning and afternoon—that feature separate events. 



Rather than total scores and large numbers, each team is awarded just one single point for winning a match.

There are 12 singles matches, eight fourball matches and eight foursome matches for a total of 28.

If a single USA golfer wins his round of singles, it counts as one point for USA. If a pair of Europe golfers defeat a pair of USA golfers in fourball, it's one point for Team Europe.

A golfer's personal overall score does not matter. The only thing that matters is beating your opponent in each particular event, regardless of score.  


Breakdown of Events


The foursomes event is held during the Friday and Saturday morning sessions. 

In this event, two golfers from the same team create a pair and face a pair from the opposing team, making a total of four golfers per group. 

The two partners play each hole with their own ball, and whoever shoots the lowest score on that hole submits their score for the scorecard. 

For example, if Tiger Woods shoots a three on the first hole and his partner shoots a four, the scorecard will read "three" for that hole, since Woods had the best score. 

At the end, each pair totals their total score and whichever team comes in the lowest wins. 

If a pair wins a round of foursomes for their team, it counts as one total point for their team. 

For example, partners Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley won their round of foursomes Friday morning, which resulted in one point for Team USA. 



Like fourball, foursomes features a pair of golfers from one team facing a pair of golfers from the opposing team. 

Unlike fourball, foursomes uses just one ball per pair. Partners alternate every other shot. 

For example, if Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are partners, Tiger would tee off, Mickelson would take the next shot to get them on the green, and Tiger would take the third shot and putt it in. 



Singles is exactly what it sounds like—the solo round. 

This is classic, man-on-man golf between one golfer and his opponent. The golfer with the best match score after 18 holes is the victor. 

For example, Europe's Rory McIllroy is facing USA's Keegan Bradley in the singles round. If McIlroy finishes 1-up or better, he wins the match and earns a point for Team Europe. 


Current Scoreboard

Friday Morning Foursomes

McIlroy/McDowell (Winner EUR) vs. Furyk/Snedeker

Donald/Garcia vs. Mickelson/Bradley (Winner USA)

Westwood/Molinari vs. Dufner/Johnson (Winner USA)

Poulter/Rose (Winner EUR) vs. Stricker/Woods

Score: USA 2, Europe 2


Friday Afternoon Fourball

Lawrie/Hanson vs. Watson/Simpson (Winner USA)

McIlroy/McDowell vs. Mickelson/Bradley (Winner USA)

Rose/Kaymer vs. Johnson/Kuchar (Winner USA)

Westwood/Colsaerts (Winner EUR) vs. Woods/Stricker

Score: USA 3, Europe 1


Saturday Morning Foursomes

Rose/Poulter (Winner EUR) vs. Watson/Simpson

Westwood/Donald vs. Bradley/Mickelson (Winner USA)

Colsaerts/Garcia vs. Dufner/Johnson (Winner USA)

McIlroy/McDowell vs. Furyk/Snedeker (Winner USA)

Score: USA 3, Europe 1


Saturday Afternoon Fourball

Colsaerts/Lawrie vs. Johnson/Kuchar (Winner USA)

Rose/Molinari vs. Watson/Simpson (Winner USA)

Garcia/Donald (Winner EUR) vs. Woods/Stricker

McIlroy/Poulter (Winner EUR) vs. Dufner/Johnson

Score: USA 2, Europe 2


Total Score: USA 10, Europe 6


Sunday's Singles Pairings

Luke Donald (EUR) vs. Bubba Watson (USA) 12:03 pm ET

Ian Poulter (EUR) vs. Webb Simpson (USA) 12:14 pm ET

Rory McIlroy (EUR) vs. Keegan Bradley (USA) 12:25 pm ET

Justin Rose (EUR) vs. Phil Mickelson (USA) 12:36 pm ET

Paul Lawrie (EUR) vs. Brandt Snedeker (USA) 12:47 pm ET

Nicolas Colsaerts (EUR) vs. Dustin Johnson (USA) 12:58 pm ET

Graeme McDowell (EUR) vs. Zach Johnson (USA) 1:09 pm ET

Sergio Garcia (EUR) vs. Jim Furyk (USA) 1:20 pm ET

Peter Hanson (EUR) vs. Jason Dufner (USA) 1:31 pm ET

Lee Westwood (EUR) vs. Matt Kuchar (USA) 1:42 pm ET

Martin Kaymer (EUR) vs. Steve Stricker (USA) 1:53 pm ET

Francesco Molinari (EUR) vs. Tiger Woods (USA) 2:04 pm ET


When and Where to Watch on Sunday

Live Streaming and Highlights: Ryder Cup Official Website

Television: NBC (12:00 to 6:00 pm ET), Golf Channel (3:00 to 5:00 pm ET)

Live Scoreboard: Ryder Cup Official Website

iTunes/iPod Application: Apple Market


Sunday Preview

United States

With a comfortable 10-6 lead entering the final singles round of the tournament, the USA is riding high and should be able to seal a victory. 

Zach Johnson had won the first two rounds until losing to Rory McIlroy and the impressive Ian Poulter on Saturday afternoon.

Johnson will need to continue that success against Nicolas Colsaerts in the singles round. 

Colsaerts has only won one of the three events he's participated in, a good sign for Johnson. 

Phil Mickelson is also 3-for-3 throughout the tournament and has been playing well. During singles, Mickelson will square off against Justin Rose, who has won two of the four events he's participated in. 

USA is also hoping Tiger Woods will step up his game and come up big against Francesco Molinari. 

Woods has lost all three of his events throughout the tournament, although he did birdie three out of the final five holes during Saturday afternoon fourball, so he may be heating up. 

There are 12 rounds of singles and USA only has a four-point lead, so there's still an opportunity to for Europe to come from behind and pull off an upset. 

As long as each golfer stays focused and the team has an average day overall, they should come out ahead. 



Europe is struggling with only six points and has work to do if it wants to shrink the four-point deficit. 

Out of the four total events so far in this tournament, Europe has not outscored the USA in a single one. 

It managed to pull off a 2-2 tie in the Friday morning foursomes and the Saturday afternoon fourball, but didn't do itself any favors by failing to win a single round. 

Ian Poulter has been the star for Europe, as he's won all three of the events he's participated in. 

Poulter will go up against Webb Simpson in singles, which is an ideal matchup for Poulter considering his defeat of Simpson during the Saturday morning foursomes. 

Europe will also be depending on sensation Rory McIlroy to step up and win his round in singles. 

McIlroy won just two out of four events during Friday and Saturday, but he'll have a chance to come up with another point against Keegan Bradley in the singles round. 

Europe is trailing by four, but with 12 rounds of singles there's more than enough time to make a comeback. 


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