Do all 12 players play on Sunday Ryder Cup?

The Ryder Cup is one of the most prestigious events in golf, pitting a team of American golfers against a team from Europe in match play competition. It is held every two years, rotating between venues in the United States and Europe. The Ryder Cup always generates a lot of interest from golf fans around the world.

One of the most common questions fans have about the Ryder Cup format is whether all 12 players on each team play on Sunday, which is the final day of competition. The short answer is yes, all 24 golfers who qualify for their respective Ryder Cup teams will play matches on Sunday.

Ryder Cup Format

The Ryder Cup format is as follows:

  • There are 28 total matches contested over three days (Friday, Saturday, Sunday)
  • On Friday and Saturday there are 4 foursome (alternate shot) matches and 4 fourball (better ball) matches
  • On Sunday there are 12 singles matches
  • Each match is worth 1 point, with the first team to 14.5 points winning the Ryder Cup

So Friday and Saturday each have 8 total points up for grabs in the team matches, while Sunday has 12 points available in the singles matches. All 12 golfers on both teams will play in one singles match on Sunday.

Friday and Saturday Players

For the Friday and Saturday team matches, both captains have to select 4 pairings for the foursomes and 4 pairings for the fourballs. The captains don’t have to use every player, and they can mix and match players between the two different formats.

In recent years, most captains have tried to get all their players involved on Friday and Saturday. Sitting players for an entire day has become very rare. But the captains are not required to play all 12 golfers on the first two days.

Sunday Singles

Sunday at the Ryder Cup is singles day, where all 12 players from both teams will compete in match play. The captains take turns submitting the order their golfers will play on Sunday morning.

Every player on the roster must be sent out for a singles match on Sunday. There are no exceptions or sitting players on the final day. The only way a player would miss playing on Sunday is if they had to withdraw during the week due to injury or other circumstances.

Why Sunday is so Important

The reason all players must compete in the Sunday singles matches is because those 12 points represent nearly half of the total points needed to win the Ryder Cup. With so much at stake on the last day, both teams want to utilize their entire roster on Sunday.

Having every eligible player compete on Sunday also ensures a thrilling finish for fans. With everybody participating, Sunday at the Ryder Cup is filled with exciting shotmaking and tense moments. Golfers on both teams know every one of their matches could potentially decide who wins the Cup.

Famous Sunday Singles Matches

Because all 12 players are involved on Sunday, it has resulted in some classic singles matches over the years that have determined the outcome of the Ryder Cup:

  • 2012 – Martin Kaymer seals Europe’s come from behind win by making a putt to beat Steve Stricker 1-up.
  • 1999 – Justin Leonard’s long birdie putt clinches a U.S. win after his match vs. Jose Maria Olazabal.
  • 1991 – Bernhard Langer misses a short putt vs. Hale Irwin, allowing the U.S. to hold on 14.5-13.5.
  • 1969 – Jack Nicklaus concedes a short putt to Tony Jacklin to tie their match, resulting in the first tie in Ryder Cup history.

The list goes on and on. So many classic Ryder Cup moments have happened during Sunday singles matches over the years. It’s a big reason why all 12 golfers play on the last day.

How Players are Chosen for Ryder Cup Teams

For those unfamiliar with how teams are picked for the Ryder Cup, here is a brief breakdown:

  • The United States team is made up of the top 6 players in the Ryder Cup points standings after the PGA Championship.
  • The remaining 6 players on the U.S. team are selected by the captain as “captain’s picks.”
  • The European team is made up of the top 4 players on the Ryder Cup European points list and the top 5 players not already qualified from the World Points list.
  • The remaining 3 European players are selected by the captain as “captain’s picks.”

So both 12-man teams are made up of a mix of players who automatically qualified based on their play over the past two years, as well as a few picks from each captain.

Cutthroat Competition

Part of what makes the Ryder Cup so intense is that every single match matters. With a limited number of points, the pressure on each player is immense.

Knowing they have to play each one of their 12 players on Sunday adds another strategic element for the captains. Where they place each golfer in the Sunday lineup can be crucial to securing enough points to win or retain the cup.

No Ryder Cup Sweeps…Yet

There has never been a sweep at the Ryder Cup, with one team winning all 12 singles matches on Sunday. The closest any team has come to a sweep was in 1981 when the United States won 11 of the 12 points.

Since the format expanded to its current 12 vs 12 players in 1979, the singles matches have always been split. At least one player from the losing team has salvaged a win.

But a sweep is still theoretically possible. With every player participating on Sunday, it could happen someday if one team dominates. It would be incredibly challenging, but with 12 points up for grabs there’s always a chance.

Dramatic Comebacks on Sunday

Since all 24 golfers play on Sunday, it has paved the way for some epic comebacks and collapses on the last day. Trailing big headed to singles, there have been some memorable turnarounds:

  • 2012 – Europe trailed 10-6 but rallied to win 14.5-13.5 in what is known as the “Miracle at Medinah.” They scored 8.5 points on Sunday.
  • 1999 – The U.S. was down 10-6 but mounted a huge comeback on Sunday to win 14.5-13.5.
  • 1995 – Europe overcame a 9-7 deficit to earn a 14.5-13.5 victory. They won 8 of the 12 points on Sunday.

The chance for a big rally exists because every player can contribute on the last day. It makes the final session extremely exciting as teams know they are never out of it.

Sunday Pressure

The chance for Sunday heroics also ratchets up the tension on the players. On both teams, the golfers know they can either be the goat or the hero depending on their result.

Being the player who earns the decisive point to win the Ryder Cup is an incredible feeling. But missing a key putt or shot that costs your team the cup is equally devastating.

This pressure is part of what makes the Ryder Cup so compelling. Every player is put through the wringer on Sunday knowing their match could mean everything. It’s absolutely riveting theater!


So in summary, yes all 12 players from both the United States and European teams do play singles matches on Sunday at the Ryder Cup. This ensures a dramatic finish with loads of tense shotmaking and stressful moments.

Seeing each and every one of the 24 golfers compete and having all their matches count is part of what makes the Ryder Cup so exciting. With so much on the line, the final day never disappoints.

The Sunday singles session has produced some incredible comebacks, collapses, and memorable shots over the years. With every player participating, it guarantees a thrilling conclusion to find out who will win the coveted Ryder Cup.

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