How many Ryder Cup singles matches are there?

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 and captures the attention of fans around the world. With such a popular and intense event, many golf enthusiasts are curious about the details of the competition format.

Overview of the Ryder Cup

The Ryder Cup began in 1927 as a competition between professional male golfers from the US and Great Britain. It was named after the English businessman Samuel Ryder who donated the original trophy. The inclusion of continental European golfers began in 1979, changing the British team to the European team.

The competition is jointly administered by the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) of America and Ryder Cup Europe, a joint venture of the PGA European Tour, the PGA of Great Britain and Ireland, and the PGA of Europe. It is contested every two years, with the venue alternating between courses in the US and Europe respectively.

The teams consist of 12 players each. Eligibility and selection procedures have changed over the years, but today 9 players for each team are selected based on a points system reflecting performance in major tournaments. The remaining 3 players are selected by the team captain as wild cards.

The present-day format includes 28 total matches – 8 foursome matches, 8 fourball matches, and 12 singles matches. The competition takes place over 3 days.

History of the Singles Matches

Singles matches have been a part of the Ryder Cup format since the very beginning. In the early years, from 1927 to 1959, the number of singles matches played was relatively low – just 4 matches in 1927, 5 in 1933, and ranging from 7 to 9 in the late 1940s and 50s.

Beginning in 1959, the number was increased to 10 singles matches. In 1979, when the European team was expanded from just Great Britain and Ireland to all of Europe, the number of singles matches jumped up to 12 to accommodate the larger team size.

12 singles matches has remained the standard ever since and is now considered a hallmark of the modern Ryder Cup competition.

Singles Match Count by Year

Year Number of Singles Matches
1927 4
1933 5
1947 7
1949 9
1951 9
1953 9
1955 8
1957 9
1959 10
1961 10
1963 10
1965 10
1967 10
1969 10
1971 10
1973 10
1975 10
1977 10
1979 12
1981 12
1983 12
1985 12
1987 12
1989 12
1991 12
1993 12
1995 12
1997 12
1999 12
2002 12
2004 12
2006 12
2008 12
2010 12
2012 12
2014 12
2016 12
2018 12
2020 12

The Significance of the Singles Matches

The singles matches on the final day of the Ryder Cup are hugely important to the overall outcome. While the foursomes and fourball matches give teams a chance to build momentum and points, the singles matches offer drama and enable comebacks.

There are 12 opportunities in the singles matches for each team to secure precious points. With each match worth 1 point, the singles can cause huge swings either way in the final scores. Players have to battle it out individually with everything on the line.

Legendary comebacks like the Miracle at Medinah in 2012 demonstrate the critical nature of the singles matches. The US team overcame a 10-6 deficit on the final day by winning 8 of the 12 singles points to retain the Ryder Cup in dramatic fashion.

The number of singles matches reflects how essential they are viewed by organizers and teams. 12 matches ensure that every player on both teams participates in this marquee part of the competition.

Points Available from Singles Matches vs Other Formats

Match Format Number of Matches Total Points Available
Foursome 8 8
Fourball 8 8
Singles 12 12

As the table illustrates, the 12 singles matches make up 12 of the 28 total points needed to win the Ryder Cup. This is more points than either the foursome or fourball matches.

Singles Match Results by Year

Looking at historical data, the singles matches have indeed regularly proven crucial to determining the Ryder Cup champion. There are too many years to show them all in tables in this article, but some key trends and moments stand out:

  • In 2012, Europe came back from a 4-point deficit to win 8 of the 12 singles points and retain the Cup.
  • In 1999, the US staged a similar comeback, going 7-5 in the singles after starting well behind.
  • The home team has won the singles session 9 of the last 12 Ryder Cups.
  • The team that has won the singles has gone on to win the Ryder Cup in 19 of the last 22 competitions.

These statistics demonstrate that dominance in the 12 singles matches on Sunday almost guarantees overall victory. With so much drama and importance packed into these 12 head-to-head battles, it’s no surprise players feel immense pressure and pride during singles play at the Ryder Cup.


In summary, there are 12 Ryder Cup singles matches played on the final day of competition every two years. This number has been fixed since 1979 when the European team expanded from just Great Britain and Ireland.

The 12 singles matches make up a significant portion of the total points available. They consistently prove crucial to the result, enabling late comebacks. Singles play also brings out intense emotion and drama as players compete individually when everything is on the line.

The Ryder Cup’s 12 Sunday showdowns are a special tradition in golf, making heroes and allowing teams to pull off thrilling last day rallies. For players and fans alike, the singles matches are must-see viewing full of tension, skill and surprises.

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