How many points are required to win the Ryder Cup?

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, as the best players from Europe and the US face off in match play competition. But how exactly does a team win the Ryder Cup? How many points are needed to claim victory? In this comprehensive guide, we will walk through the ins and outs of the Ryder Cup format and scoring to understand how many points it takes to win.

Ryder Cup Basics

Some key facts about the Ryder Cup:

  • The Ryder Cup is played every two years, on even numbered years.
  • The home team alternates between Europe and the USA. In 2022, the event is being held at Marco Simone Golf Club in Rome, Italy, so Europe is the home team.
  • There are two teams of 12 players each – Team Europe and Team USA. The team captains select who plays in the matches.
  • The competition format features both foursomes and fourball match play over the course of three days.
  • There are a total of 28 matches – 8 on Friday and Saturday, and 12 on Sunday.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get into the Ryder Cup scoring and points system.

Scoring and Points at the Ryder Cup

The Ryder Cup uses a match play format, meaning players or teams earn a point for each match they win, halve a point for a tied match, and get 0 points for losing a match. Here’s a quick rundown of Ryder Cup scoring:

  • There are a total of 28 points available.
  • To win the Ryder Cup, a team must earn 14.5 points. This is a majority of the 28 points.
  • If the competition ends in a 14-14 tie, the defending champion (in this case Europe) retains the cup.
  • Each match win is worth 1 point. Match ties (halves) are worth 0.5 points to each side.
  • There are 8 matches on Friday and Saturday (4 foursome and 4 fourball each day).
  • On Sunday there are 12 singles matches.

So in summary, the first team to get to 14.5 points wins. Let’s take a quick example:

  • On Friday, Europe wins 3 matches, loses 3 matches, and halves 2 matches. Their score is 3 points.
  • On Saturday, Europe wins 4 matches, loses 2 matches, and halves 2 matches. Their score is now 7 points.
  • On Sunday, Europe wins 7 of the singles matches, loses 4, and halves 1. That’s 8 more points.
  • Their total points = 3 + 4 + 8 = 15 points. Europe wins the Ryder Cup!

Now that we’ve got the basics down, let’s take a deeper historical look at how the points system and rules have evolved over the years.

History of Ryder Cup Points and Formats

While the main premise of needing 14.5 points to win has held true throughout history, there have been some changes to the points formats and rules over the years.

1927-1959: Team Size and Points

  • From 1927 to 1959, Ryder Cup teams had only 10 members each rather than today’s 12.
  • With 10 golfers on each side, there were only 20 total points available.
  • The winning point threshold was still a majority of the points, so just 10.5 points were needed to win the cup in this era.

1961 Onward: Expanded Teams

  • In 1961, the number of players on each team was increased to 12, bringing the total points up to 24.
  • The winning points threshold increased accordingly to 12.5 points.
  • This 12 player team format has remained in place ever since.

1979: Expansion to 28 Points

  • In 1979, the format expanded from 18 holes per day on just Friday and Saturday, to four sessions over three days.
  • With four matches on Friday and Saturday, plus twelve singles matches on Sunday, this brought the total points up to 28.
  • As a result, the winning points target rose to its current level of 14.5 points.

Other Modern Rule Changes

  • From 1979 to 2002, all ties after 18 holes were halved, even in singles matches.
  • From 2004 onward, singles matches ending tied after 18 holes went to extra holes until producing a winner.
  • In 2010, the process for determining holes and match orders was adjusted. Captain’s now have more control over selections.

So in the early days things were simpler with smaller teams competing for fewer points. But the modern era has seen an expansion to 28 total points, which simply requires a majority of 14.5 for victory. With this evolution complete by 1979, the scoring system has remained unchanged for over 40 years since then.

Point Totals and Winning Margins

Now let’s take a look at what typical point totals and margins of victory have been throughout Ryder Cup history:

Close Battles

  • 1969: USA wins 16.5 to 15.5 over Britain & Ireland.
  • 1989: Europe beats USA 14.5 to 13.5.
  • 1991: USA defeats Europe 14.5 to 13.5.
  • 2012: Europe comes from behind to beat USA 14.5 to 13.5.


  • 1975: USA dominates Britain & Ireland 21 to 11.
  • 1981: USA crushes Europe 18.5 to 9.5.
  • 2004: Europe easily beats USA 18.5 to 9.5.
  • 2006: Europe trounces USA 18.5 to 9.5 again.

The Norm

  • The most common margin of victory is 2-3 points.
  • Average winning score is around 15-17 points.
  • Blowouts of 5+ points are rare.
  • 18.5 points is the record, done by both Europe and USA.

So while 14.5 is enough to win, matches are typically still hard fought. 2-3 points is a solid victory, while 4 points or greater is a dominant performance. Even with many lopsided matches at times, a 18.5-9.5 demolition is highly uncommon.

Points Required Per Session

Since Ryder Cup play is broken into different sessions, it’s useful to know how many points are in play and typically needed each day:

Friday Morning Foursomes

  • 4 matches
  • 4 total points available
  • Need around 2 points out of 4 for a good start

Friday Afternoon Four-ball

  • 4 matches
  • 4 total points available
  • 2 more points needed for a solid first day

Saturday Morning Foursomes

  • 4 matches
  • 4 total points available
  • Need another 2 points

Saturday Afternoon Four-ball

  • 4 matches
  • 4 total points available
  • 2 more points ideal, leading to 10-11 points after 2 days

Sunday Singles

  • 12 matches
  • 12 total points available
  • Need 4.5 – 5 points to get over 14.5 point threshold

So in each session, about 2 points per team is a reasonable goal. Get near 10 after Saturday, then focus on singles. History shows the Sunday matches are critical, with big comebacks and collapses happening in that final session.


To summarize, here’s what you need to know about Ryder Cup points and scoring:

  • There are a total of 28 points available.
  • 14.5 points are required to win the Ryder Cup.
  • Points are awarded for each match: 1 for a win, 0.5 for a tie, 0 for a loss.
  • There are 8 matches on Friday and Saturday, 4 each in morning foursome and afternoon fourball.
  • 12 singles matches take place on Sunday.
  • The typical winning score is 15-17 points, with 2-3 point margins common.
  • Blowouts are rare, with 18.5 points the record margin.

While the basics are straightforward, the history shows how the format and point totals have evolved over the years. What has remained constant is the pressure and excitement of the biennial competition between Europe and the United States. With national pride and golfing glory at stake, the Ryder Cup never disappoints.

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