Ryder Cup 2021: Teams, schedule, course, rules and everything you need to know


The Ryder Cup is a biennial men’s golf tournament contested by two teams of 12 players from Europe and the United States.

It is perhaps one of golf’s oldest and biggest rivalries and was founded in 1927 by Englishman Samuel Ryder after teams of American and British golfers travelled across the Atlantic to take part in a matchplay tournament.

Originally the tournament was contested between the USA and Great Britain, but the British team was expanded in 1979 to allow players from continental Europe to compete.

In fact, the very first edition of the matchplay tournament took place in 1926, where Walter Hagen’s Team USA defeated Ted Ray’s Team Great Britain 9 ½ to 2 ½.

The story so far

This Friday, the 43rd edition of the Ryder Cup will commence at the Whistling Straits Golf Club in Wisconsin, USA.

The event was initially scheduled to take place in 2020, but was postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Team USA currently lead Team Europe 26 wins to 14, but Team USA’s recent form in the tournament has left a lot to be desired, with Team Europe having won seven of the last nine tournaments since 2002.


Team Europe are the current holders of the Ryder Cup, having defeated the USA back in 2018 at Le Golf National in Paris 17½ points to 10½.

Team Europe travelled out to America earlier this morning and will be hoping to emulate the same success as Team Europe’s female golf team, who defeated Team USA in last month’s Solheim cup.

So who’s playing?

Every two years, a non-playing captain picks a team of professional golfers to compete in the tournament. For Team Europe, three-time major champion Padraig Harrington will captain the side. He will go up against Team USA captain Steve Stricker.

Each captain is also accompanied by five vice-captains, who help them pick their teams for the week.

Team Europe’s 12-man squad was announced two weeks ago after the BMW PGA Championships at the Wentworth Golf Club in Surrey. The top nine players qualify as part of a points ranking system by playing and winning European Tour and PGA Tour events, while the last three picks are made as captain’s wildcards.


Meanwhile, the Team USA selection process works slightly differently, with captain Stricker selecting six wildcards, who will play alongside six other automatic qualifiers for the week.

Team USA

Captain: Steve Stricker

Vice-Captains: Fred Couples, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson, Davis Love III.

Line-Up: Patrick Cantlay, Harris English, Tony Finau, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Xander Schauffele, Scottie Scheffler, Collin Morikawa, Daniel Berger, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth.

Team Europe

Captain: Padraig Harrington

Vice-Captains: Luke Donald, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Robert Karlson, Henrik Stenson.

Line-up: Lee Westwood, Jon Rahm, Ian Poulter, Tyrrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia, Paul Casey, Matt Fitzpatrick, Shane Lowry, Rory McIlroy, Bernd Wiesberger, Viktor Hovland.

How it works

The Ryder Cup will officially start this Friday at 1.05pm (BST), with 28 matches taking place over Friday, Saturday and Sunday.


Dissimilarly to standard PGA or European Tour events, the tournament works in a matchplay format, with players competing in teams and as singles to win points for their team.

Friday and Saturday events work in a foursome and fourball format, while Sunday sees 24 players play-off against each other in 12 singles matches.

Pairings for Friday’s foursomes will be announced later this week, while pairings for Saturday and matches for Sunday’s games are announced the night before.

Foursomes: Two golfers from Team Europe will compete against a pair from Team USA. Each pair will only be able to use one golf ball and will take turns hitting alternate shots with the ball. Players are each required to hit a certain number of shots from the tee, with their partner then taking the subsequent shot, making this a very tactical event to kick start the tournament.

Fourballs: Golfers team up in pairs again for this event, but instead of sharing one ball, this time they will each play their own ball. The player with the lowest score from each pair will count their score for their side.



Four foursomes matches take place on the Friday and Saturday mornings of the event, while four fourball matches take place in the afternoon for the first two days.

On the final day, both teams will compete in a singles matchplay event which will see golfers from both sides individually go head-to-head with an opponent from the opposing side.


Players pick up points by winning holes for their team. Played on a hole-by-hole basis, players try to hit a lower score on each hole compared to their opposition player or team.

If both players or teams score the same on a hole, each team will pick up half a point for their side. If a player wins a hole, then they will go 1up against their opponent.

The player with the most points at the end of 18 holes is ultimately the winner of the match, and if the match is a draw, both teams will again be awarded half a point.


If a team reaches 14.5 points before the other, they will typically win the tournament, but if the scores are tied at 14 points apiece, Team Europe will retain the Ryder Cup.

The course

Whistling Straits is one of the longest courses on the PGA Tour at 7,390 yards, which is just 500 yards short of this year’s behemoth US Open course, the Torrey Pines National.

This is a tricky links course, designed in homage to many of the golf courses players will find on the Irish coast and has previously hosted three major events in its lifetime, including the 2004, 2010 and 2015 PGA Championships.

Team Europe vice-captain Martin Kaymer notably won the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits and will be a source of valuable course knowledge for Padraig Harrington this week.

Notably, the course features a wealth of bunkers lining its fairways, so it will be the best scramblers this week who will hit low scores.


When does it start?

Play will begin on Friday and Saturday at 1.05pm (BST), with foursomes matches taking place every 16 minutes.

Friday’s afternoon fourball matches will then occur at 6.10pm, with fixtures following every 16 minutes.

Sunday’s singles matches will start at 5.05pm, with matches taking place at 11-minute intervals thereafter.

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