The Ryder Cup is the most exciting and unique event in golf. After the USA's "Medinah Meltdown" in 2012, there have been two years of anticipation building towards the 40th edition at Gleneagles. The European side is the favorite -- they've owned this event and are loaded with players who have winning records, they are playing at home, and they are heavy at the top, boasting four of the top six players in the world.
Captains announce their pairings and their order completely blind from the opponent's order and pairings. There are eight points available in two sessions in each of the first two days, and then 12 points available on Sunday. We'll update the schedule and results as the competition progresses. Here is your 2014 Ryder Cup primer.
The Ryder Cup has 28 matches and 28 points available. Because Europe currently holds the cup, they need only 14 points to retain it. The USA must earn 14.5 points over the five sessions and 28 matches to take the cup back to the States.
Unlike the Presidents Cup, the Ryder Cup does not require a captain to play every player on his roster until Sunday. Conceivably, four guys could stay on the bench until the fifth and final session. Mark James did this in 1999 at Brookline. But once those four players went out for their first match of the entire cup on Sunday, they were wiped out by the Americans and that started the miraculous comeback capped by Justin Leonard's putt at The Country Club. Both captains Tom Watson and Paul McGinley have said they're going to try and get to the full team out in the first day, with the four players on the bench for the morning session going out in the afternoon.
While the Ryder Cup is entirely a match play event, there are three variations of that format put in play. The first two days feature a Four-Ball session and a Foursomes session. The third and final day is basic one-on-one singles with all 12 players from each roster going out over the course of two hours.
This is the most common two-man game and one you most likely play when chopping it up on the weekend with friends. Each player plays his own ball from the tee to the bottom of the cup (unless a putt is conceded or you pick up). The best of the two scores goes up against the best of your opponent's. There are eight total points, four in each of the first two days, available through this format.
The strategic elements of this game often center around who goes first up on the green when your team has the honor, and which player will take the aggressive approach over the conservative approach -- let your bombers rip it and try to make a winning birdie, and let the steady tee-to-green strikers play it safe, make par, and preserve a halve.
The most unusual and unique format, where two players alternate shots hitting the same ball. This requires the most adjustment for these world class control freak pros, where every little detail, such as not playing their usual make and model golf ball, affects them.
There is a good deal of strategy involved with this game -- you want your long hitter playing the even or odd holes with the most par-5s, and your better irons player hitting the 9 tee shots at the even or odd holes with more par-3s. Much like Four-ball, Europe has had an advantage in this format during their recent run over the USA.
This is pretty self-explanatory -- one on one, the entire roster for each side matches up over the course of about two hours of tee times. The amount of points on the table, more than any session and almost as many as the first two days combined, allow for big charges and comebacks, which we saw from the USA in 1999 and Europe in 2012.
Neither captain knows the order of the other team's 12, but if you're behind, the idea is to put your biggest guns up front to try and get some momentum rolling early in the day. And then hope your lesser guys at the back end can hold on or pick off a few points.
The Europeans are the favorites, playing at home in an event they've owned over the past two decades. But while they may have four of the top six in the world, the average world ranking for the USA roster is actually 16 to Europe's 20.
The rosters may not be as loaded as the 2012 competition, but it's still an overwhelming amount of world class talent. Jason Dufner and Adam Scott are the only major winners from the intervening years since the last Cup who aren't at Gleneagles this week. We have in-depth profiles of all 24 players here.
Schedule and Results
Not every member on the team plays through the first four sessions. Sunday is the only day that the entire roster for both sides goes out in one session. The captains will try to get their entire team out in a match at least once in each of the first two days, but it's never guaranteed with four of the 12 players on the bench for each session. The first two days are 11-hour marches, while Sunday singles can have the cup wrapped up in potentially under five hours.
With Europe hosting this year, the schedule is obviously rougher on the American audience. But for the first time ever, the entire cup will be broadcast live, so if you can blow off work on Friday, pop up in the middle of the night to watch the opening session.
Friday, Sep. 26 (8 points)
EUR leads 5 points to 3 points after the first day
Four Four-Ball matches
Match 1 -- USA Watson/Simpson vs. EUR Rose/Stenson -- EUR Wins, 5&4
Match 2 -- USA Fowler/Walker vs. EUR Bjorn/Kaymer -- Halved
Match 3 -- USA Spieth/Reed vs. EUR Gallacher/Poulter -- USA Wins, 5&4
Match 4 -- USA Bradley/Mickelson vs. EUR Garcia/McIlroy -- USA Wins, 1-up
Four Foursomes matches
Match 5 -- USA Furyk/Kuchar vs. EUR Donaldson/Westwood -- EUR Wins, 2-up
Match 6 -- USA Mahan/Johnson vs. EUR Rose/Stenson -- EUR Wins, 2&1
Match 7 -- USA Fowler/Walker vs. EUR Garcia/McIlroy -- Halved
Match 8 -- USA Bradley/Mickelson vs. EUR McDowell/Dubuisson -- EUR Wins, 3&2
Saturday, Sep. 27 (8 points)
EUR leads 10 points to 6 points after two days
Four Four-Ball matches -- tee times from 2:35 a.m. to 3:20 a.m. ET
Match 9 -- USA Watson/Kuchar vs. EUR Rose/Stenson -- EUR Wins, 3&2
Match 10 -- USA Furyk/Mahan vs. EUR Donaldson/Westwood -- USA Wins, 4&3
Match 11 -- USA Spieth/Reed vs. EUR Bjorn/Kaymer -- USA Wins, 5&3
Match 12 -- USA Fowler/Walker vs. EUR McIlroy/Poulter -- Halved
Four Foursomes matches
Match 13 -- USA Johnson/Kuchar vs. EUR Donaldson/Westwood -- EUR wins, 2&1
Match 14 -- USA Mahan/Furyk vs. EUR Garcia/McIlroy -- EUR wins, 3&2
Match 15 -- USA Reed/Spieth vs. EUR Rose/Kaymer -- Halved
Match 16 -- USA Fowler/Walker vs. EUR McDowell/Dubuisson -- EUR wins, 5&4
TV coverage: NBC, 3 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET
Sunday, Sep. 28 (12 points)
Twelve Singles matches -- tee times from 6:36 a.m. to 8:48 a.m. ET
Match 17 -- USA Jordan Spieth vs. EUR Graeme McDowell -- EUR wins, 2&1
Match 18 -- USA Patrick Reed vs. EUR Henrik Stenson -- USA wins, 1-up
Match 19 -- USA Rickie Fowler vs. EUR Rory McIlroy -- EUR wins, 5&4
Match 20 -- USA Hunter Mahan vs. EUR Justin Rose -- Halved
Match 21 -- USA Phil Mickelson vs. EUR Stephen Gallacher -- USA wins, 3&1
Match 22 -- USA Bubba Watson vs. EUR Martin Kaymer -- EUR wins, 4&2
Match 23 -- USA Matt Kuchar vs. EUR Thomas Bjorn -- USA wins, 4&3
Match 24 -- USA Jim Furyk vs. EUR Sergio Garcia -- EUR wins, 1-up
Match 25 -- USA Webb Simpson vs. EUR Ian Poulter -- Halved
Match 26 -- USA Keegan Bradley vs. EUR Jamie Donaldson -- EUR wins, 4&3
Match 27 -- USA Jimmy Walker vs. EUR Lee Westwood -- USA wins, 3&2
Match 28 -- USA Zach Johnson vs. EUR Victor Dubuisson -- Halved
TV coverage: NBC, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET
This is the first time the Ryder Cup has returned to Scotland, also known as the home of golf, in 40 years. Gleneagles hosted the first international match play competion that would come to be known as the Ryder Cup back in the 1920s. That was played on the King's Course, however, and this year's edition will be at the much newer Centenary Course.
You might think that because Europe is hosting this year, the Ryder Cup will be played on a windswept seaside links course under traditional Scottish conditions. But Gleneagles is actually more of an American venue than a Scottish one. It's an inland course with high rough similar to what you'd find on one of the classic American parklands courses. The designer is even American -- Jack Nicklaus carved out the Centenary Course at Gleneagles almost 20 years ago and made some small renovations, most notably to the 9th and 18 holes, in 2012.
Playing at a newer, more resort-style course has been the trend for European venues over the last few decades, leaving some of the classics that you might see on the Open rota out of it. All the money generated for the Euro Tour and all the non-golf requirements that this "event" demand probably play a part in that.
So given the American characteristics of the course, there's no real links advantage, although the Euros may be slightly more comfortable playing in the Scottish cold and rain, which should pop up at different times over the three-day competition. The rough is much higher than both teams expected, and the fairways are relatively tight. The greens, however, are running a little slower than an American player on the PGA Tour might be used to.
The object of a venue at these international match play events should focus on setting up birdie chances and creating points of divergent strategy, rather than just playing "tough," which you'd look for in a major championship venue. The home captain traditionally controls the ability to change how a course is setup and where the pins are placed, but reports this week indicate that Paul McGinley is going to let things be and stay hands-off when it comes to course management maneuvers.
The Ryder Cup has nearly a century-long history. There have been changes along the way, such as opening the roster up to the entire continent of Europe. The amount of points available and matches scheduled has evolved and increased. But the basic format and outline of the competition remains.
The history of the Ryder Cup can be split up into a couple distinct eras. Like the modern day issue with the Presidents Cup, the Ryder Cup was hardly competitive for much of the 20th century. The USA won 20 of 21 cups from 1935 to 1983 and there was little interest anymore.
Jack Nicklaus and others suggested the British Tour include team members from continental Europe, and the competition took off in the mid-80s. The Europeans, led by the ascendant class of Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer, Ian Woosnam, Sandy Lyle and Jose Maria Olazbal, started a new era of confrontational and competitive golf at the Ryder Cup. Since the mid-80s, Europe has won 10 of 14 Cups, including seven of the last nine. It's been a particularly sudden and brutal turn for the USA in the modern era of the Cup, and they're heavy underdogs again this year.
|1927||United States||9½-2½||United States Worcester Country Club, Massachusetts|
|1929||Great Britain||7-5||England Moortown Golf Club, Yorkshire|
|1931||United States||9-3||United States Scioto Country Club, Columbus, Ohio|
|1933||Great Britain||6½-5½||EnglandSouthport and Ainsdale Golf Club, Lancashire|
|1935||United States||9-3||United States Ridgewood Country Club, Paramus, New Jersey|
|1937||United States||8-4||England Southport and Ainsdale Golf Club, Lancashire|
|1947||United States||11-1||United States Portland Golf Club, Portland, Oregon|
|1949||United States||7-5||England Ganton Golf Club, Scarborough, Yorkshire|
|1951||United States||9½-2½||United States Pinehurst Resort Course No. 2, North Carolina|
|1953||United States||6½-5½||England Wentworth Club, Virginia Water, Surrey|
|1955||United States||8-4||United StatesThunderbird Country Club, Rancho Mirage, California|
|1957||Great Britain||7½-4½||England Lindrick Golf Club, Rotherham, Yorkshire|
|1959||United States||8½-3½||United States Eldorado Golf Club, Indian Wells, California|
|1961||United States||14½-9½||England Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club, Lytham St. Annes, Lancashire|
|1963||United States||23-9||United States East Lake Golf Club, Atlanta, Georgia|
|1965||United States||19½-12½||England Royal Birkdale Golf Club, Southport, Lancashire|
|1967||United States||23½-8½||United States Champions Golf Club, Houston, Texas|
|1969||United States||16-16 tied||England Royal Birkdale Golf Club, Southport, Lancashire|
|1971||United States||18½-13½||United States Old Warson Country Club, St. Louis, Missouri|
|1973||United States||19-13||Scotland Muirfield, Gullane, East Lothian|
|1975||United States||21-11||United States Laurel Valley Golf Club, Ligonier, Pennsylvania|
|1977||United States||12½-7½||England Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club, Lytham St. Annes, Lancashire|
|1979||United States||17-11||United States The Greenbrier,, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia|
|1981||United States||18½-9½||England Walton Heath Golf Club, Walton-on-the-Hill, Surrey|
|1983||United States||14½-13½||United States PGA National Golf Club, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida|
|1985||Europe||16½-11½||England The Belfry, Brabazon Course, Wishaw, Warwickshire|
|1987||Europe||15-13||United States Muirfield Village, Dublin, Ohio|
|1989||Europe||14-14 tied||England The Belfry, Brabazon Course, Wishaw, Warwickshire|
|1991||United States||14½-13½||United States Kiawah Island Golf Resort, Ocean Course, Kiawah Island, South Carolina|
|1993||United States||15-13||England The Belfry, Brabazon Course, Wishaw, Warwickshire|
|1995||Europe||14½-13½||United States Oak Hill Country Club, East Course, Rochester, New York|
|1997||Europe||14½-13½||Spain Valderrama Golf Club, Sotogrande, Andalusia|
|1999||United States||14½-13½||United States The Country Club, Composite Course, Brookline, Massachusetts|
|2002||Europe||15½-12½||England The Belfry, Brabazon Course, Wishaw, Warwickshire|
|2004||Europe||18½-9½||United States Oakland Hills Country Club, South Course, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan|
|2006||Europe||18½-9½||Republic of Ireland K Club, Palmer Course, Straffan, County Kildare|
|2008||United States||16½-11½||United States Valhalla Golf Club, Louisville, Kentucky|
|2010||Europe||14½-13½||Wales Celtic Manor Resort, Twenty Ten Course, Newport|
|2012||Europe||14½-13½||United States Medinah Country Club, Course 3, Medinah, Illinois|