Does the Ryder Cup end at 14.5 points?

The Ryder Cup is a biennial men’s golf competition between teams from Europe and the United States. It is one of the most anticipated events in golf, bringing together some of the world’s best players in a team match play format. The competition has evolved over time, but one thing has remained constant – the intense battles between the rival teams as they compete for the small gold trophy.

One question that often comes up regarding the Ryder Cup is whether the match ends once a team reaches 14.5 points. This is an understandable source of confusion, given the unique scoring system used in the event. So does the Ryder Cup end at 14.5 points? Let’s take a closer look.

Ryder Cup Format and Scoring

The Ryder Cup involves teams of 12 players from Europe and the United States. Over three days of competition, 28 matches are played with players competing in different pairings and formats.

Here’s how the scoring works:

  • Day 1 (Friday): 4 foursome (alternate shot) matches in the morning and 4 four-ball (better ball) matches in the afternoon. Each match is worth 1 point.
  • Day 2 (Saturday): 4 foursome matches in the morning and 4 four-ball matches in the afternoon. Each match is worth 1 point.
  • Day 3 (Sunday): 12 singles matches with each match worth 1 point.

So there are a total of 28 points available. To win the Ryder Cup, a team needs to reach 14.5 points.

This half-point scoring system was introduced in 1979 to prevent ties, which had occurred in 1969 and 1977. With 28 points available, it takes 14.5 points to guarantee a winner.

Does the Ryder Cup End at 14.5 Points?

So with the background on scoring covered, let’s get back to the main question – does the Ryder Cup end once a team reaches 14.5 points?

The short answer is no. The Ryder Cup does not officially end until all 28 match play points are completed, even if one team has already mathematically clinched victory by reaching 14.5 points before then.

There are several reasons for this:

  • It maintains the integrity of the competition. Both teams should have the opportunity to play for all 28 points at stake.
  • Television broadcast obligations often dictate that all matches are completed.
  • It allows players who haven’t yet competed a chance to represent their team.
  • The final tally provides a historical record of the teams’ performances.
  • Comebacks are still possible, however unlikely.

So in summary, the Ryder Cup continues until the last match is finished, regardless of the scores. The team that reaches 14.5 points first is deemed the winner, but they do not actually win the Cup itself until the event is officially closed.

Examples of Ryder Cups Continuing After 14.5 Points

There are several examples from past Ryder Cups where one team reached the 14.5 points needed to clinch victory, but play continued with the remaining scheduled matches:

2012 Ryder Cup

In 2012 at Medinah, the European team made an incredible Sunday comeback against the United States. Entering Sunday’s singles matches, Europe trailed 10-6 and needed 8.5 points on the final day to retain the Cup.

Remarkably, the Europeans won the first five singles matches to go ahead 14.5 to 13.5. At that point, they had mathematically secured victory. But eight singles matches still remained on the course. Play continued and ultimately Europe won 14.5 to 13.5, capping off an unforgettable rally.

1999 Ryder Cup

At Brookline in 1999, the Americans edged out Europe in another thriller. The U.S. entered Sunday’s singles with a 10-6 lead. Needing just 4.5 points to win, the U.S. quickly secured their 14.5th point to take the Cup.

But again, all 12 Sunday matches proceeded to a conclusion. The Americans finished extremely strong, winning 8.5 of the 12 points in singles for a final score of 14.5 to 13.5.

1985 Ryder Cup

In 1985 at The Belfry, Europe cruised to victory over the U.S. to reclaim the Ryder Cup. On Sunday, Europe tallied their 14.5 point by mid-afternoon when Sam Torrance defeated Andy North in a singles match.

With the Cup clinched, the remaining four singles matches finished and Europe ended up with a dominating 16.5 to 11.5 win.

Why Teams Keep Playing with Cup Clinched

These examples demonstrate how the Ryder Cup has continued even when one team reaches the magic 14.5 point total. But why keep playing when the Cup is already decided? There are a few key factors:

Maintain Competition Integrity

It’s important for all scheduled matches to proceed to a fair result for the integrity of the competition. Even if the Cup is clinched, there are still points at stake that could impact the final team scores.

Obligations to Broadcast Partners

Television networks invest heavily to broadcast the Ryder Cup. They require compelling programming throughout the entire scheduled event. Ending matches early would damage relations with broadcast partners.

Represent Country and Team

Players take immense pride in representing their country and team at the Ryder Cup. Cutting matches short would deny opportunities for players to compete in this prestigious event.

Historical Significance

The final scores are part of Ryder Cup history forever. Though one team has the Cup, the other fights until the end to win as many points as possible.

Possibility of Comebacks

It’s extremely unlikely, but possible for trailing teams to rally from 14.5 down if they won all remaining points. Continuing play allows for this remote possibility.

So in summary, while the competition for the Cup itself is decided at 14.5 points, matches continue to their scheduled conclusions for fairness, obligations, pride, history and extreme comeback chances.

Ways a Ryder Cup Could End Early

Though all 28 points are typically played for, there are a few scenarios where a Ryder Cup could conclude early after one team reaches 14.5 points:

  • If the trailing team concedes defeat to allow celebrations to start.
  • If weather or an external factor causes play to be halted.
  • If television broadcasters opt to end coverage once the Cup is decided.
  • If matches are stopped for security or safety reasons.

Besides these unlikely situations, expect the Ryder Cup to continue through the end no matter what the scores are. 14.5 points secures the Cup, but it doesn’t mean the competition is over.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common frequently asked questions about the Ryder Cup scoring and rules:

Why is a half point used in scoring?

The half point was introduced to prevent tie scores after the 1969 and 1977 Ryder Cups ended in a deadlock. With 28 points, 14.5 guarantees a winner.

What happens if the scores end tied 14-14?

If the Ryder Cup ends tied at 14 points each, the defending champion retains the Cup. Currently Europe holds it, so a 14-14 tie means Europe keeps the Cup.

Can players concede their match at any time?

Yes, players may concede a hole, match or even the overall Ryder Cup if their team captain allows it. Concessions are usually only made once a match’s outcome is inevitable.

How much money do players earn at the Ryder Cup?

Ryder Cup players do not earn prize money. However, winning team members get bonuses from the PGA of around $100,000 per golfer. Europe has a similar bonus system.

When did the Ryder Cup start?

The Ryder Cup originated in 1927 as a competition between USA and Great Britain professional golfers. It later expanded to include all Europe in 1979.


The Ryder Cup’s unique scoring method and match play format creates drama and uncertainty from start to finish. While the team that reaches 14.5 points first wins the Cup, play continues until the last match ends. This allows for competition integrity, fulfills broadcast duties, gives all players a chance to shine and provides historical record scores. So next time you watch the unforgettable action at a Ryder Cup, remember – the competition isn’t over at 14.5!

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