Is the Ryder Cup 3 or 4 days?

The Ryder Cup is a biennial men’s golf competition between teams from Europe and the United States. It is a much-anticipated event for golf fans around the world. But how long does the excitement last? Is the Ryder Cup a 3 day or 4 day event?

The quick answer is that the Ryder Cup is played over 3 days. However, there are some additional events and practices leading up to the start of the main competition that last for 4 days total.

Ryder Cup Tournament Format

The Ryder Cup tournament itself consists of 3 days of competitive golf matches between the Europe and USA teams. Here is a breakdown of the Ryder Cup format:

Day 1 (Friday)

On the opening day, there are 4 match play sessions:

  • Morning session: 4 foursome (alternate shot) matches
  • Afternoon session: 4 fourball (better ball) matches

This makes for a total of 8 matches on the first day.

Day 2 (Saturday)

On the second day, there are 4 more match play sessions:

  • Morning session: 4 foursome matches
  • Afternoon session: 4 fourball matches

Again, this makes for 8 total matches on the second day.

Day 3 (Sunday)

On the final day, there are 12 singles matches in the morning session. That brings the total number of matches over the 3 days of competition to 28.

So in summary, the Ryder Cup itself is played Friday through Sunday, with 8 matches on Friday, 8 matches on Saturday, and 12 matches on Sunday.

Ryder Cup Week Schedule

While the Ryder Cup tournament is 3 days, there are some additional events earlier in the week leading up to the main competition. Here is a look at a typical Ryder Cup week schedule:

Day Events
Monday Team Welcome Ceremony
Tuesday Practice rounds for teams
Wednesday Practice rounds and Celebrity Matches
Thursday Opening Ceremony
Friday Day 1 Matches (8 total)
Saturday Day 2 Matches (8 total)
Sunday Day 3 Matches (12 total) and Closing Ceremony

So when you include the additional lead-up events like welcoming ceremonies, practice rounds, celebrity matches, etc., the Ryder Cup week is generally considered a 4-day spectacle, even though the competitive tournament portion spans only Friday through Sunday.

History of the Ryder Cup

The Ryder Cup has a long and storied history since it began back in 1927. Here are some key facts about the origins and traditions of the event:

  • The competition was first established in 1927 between USA and Great Britain professional golfers.
  • It was named after English businessman Samuel Ryder who donated the original trophy.
  • The teams expanded to include all of Europe in 1979, not just Great Britain.
  • The Ryder Cup is held every two years, alternating locations between courses in the USA and Europe.
  • Originally it was USA versus Great Britain, but since 1979 it has pitted Europe versus the USA.
  • There have been a total of 43 Ryder Cups held through 2021.
  • Europe has won 15 times, USA has won 27 times, and there has been 1 tie.

The Ryder Cup has grown into one of golf’s marquee events, with heated rivalries between the American and European teams. It always generates great drama and excitement for golf fans.

Why Is It Called the Ryder Cup?

As mentioned above, the Ryder Cup is named after the English businessman Samuel Ryder who donated the original trophy.

Ryder had a deep interest in golf and came up with the idea for a match between American and British professionals after he was particularly impressed with the British players in the 1921 British Open.

He proposed the idea of a match and donated a gold trophy, dubbed the Ryder Cup, to use as the prize beginning in 1927. The name has stuck ever since.

How the Competition Works

The Ryder Cup involves teams of 12 players each from the USA and Europe. The competition consists primarily of match play events.

There are 28 total matches: 8 pairs matches on Friday and Saturday (four foursome and four fourball), and 12 singles matches on Sunday. Each match is worth 1 point.

The first team to reach 14.5 points wins the Ryder Cup. If the teams are tied at 14 points each, then the defending champion retains the Cup.

The spots on each 12-man team are filled as follows:

  • The top 8 players automatically qualify based on their world rankings and points earned.
  • The captains each then select 4 wild card picks to fill out their squad.

So in summary, it’s an exciting team match play competition coming down to the wire over 3 days between the top American and European professionals.

Most Memorable Ryder Cup Moments

With nearly a century of history, there have been many iconic Ryder Cup moments over the years. Here are some of the most famous:

1969 – Nicklaus Concedes Putt to Jacklin

In 1969, the final match came down to Jack Nicklaus versus Tony Jacklin. They were all square playing the final hole when Nicklaus famously conceded a 2-foot putt to Jacklin, resulting in the first tie in Ryder Cup history. This famous act of sportsmanship is called the “Concession” and is one of the most renowned gestures in the Cup’s history.

1999 – Justin Leonard’s Putt

At Brookline in 1999, Justin Leonard made a miraculous 45-foot putt on the 17th hole to give the USA team a shocking comeback win after trailing big early on. The American players and wives stormed the green in wild celebration even though Jose Maria Olazabal still had a putt left. This moment is simply remembered as “The Putt.”

2012 – Martin Kaymer Secures Win for Europe

At Medinah in 2012, Europe’s Martin Kaymer made the winning putt to defeat Steve Stricker and complete the “Miracle at Medinah.” Trailing 10-6 entering Sunday, Europe rallied to win 14.5-13.5 in one of the biggest comebacks in Ryder Cup history.

2018 – Molinari Goes 5-0

Italy’s Francesco Molinari became the first European player ever to go 5-0 at the Ryder Cup, powering Europe’s dominating 17.5-10.5 victory over the USA at Le Golf National in 2018. Molinari teamed up with Tommy Fleetwood to form an unbeatable duo.

These are just some of the most celebrated moments and achievements from past Ryder Cups that fans continue to talk about through the years.

Ryder Cup All-Time Records

Over the long history of the Ryder Cup, many records have been set. Here are some of the notable all-time records:

Record Player Achievement
Most Points Sergio Garcia 25.5 career points
Most Matches Played Phil Mickelson 46 career matches
Best Winning Percentage Jack Nicklaus 17-8-3 record (.690 winning percentage)
Most Consecutive Wins Larry Nelson 9 straight match wins
Oldest Player Raymond Floyd 51 years, 20 days old
Youngest Player Sergio Garcia 19 years, 258 days old

From legends like Garcia, Mickelson and Nicklaus to underdogs like Larry Nelson, the Ryder Cup history books are full of incredible records and achievements.

Ryder Cup Controversies and Confrontations

With such intense rivalry between the American and European teams, there have also been some controversial incidents and heated confrontations over the years:

1999 Ryder Cup – “Baggage” Incident

At the ’99 Cup, US player Justin Leonard’s wife and other players’ wives wore shirts emblazoned with “No More Mr. Nice Guy” and other sayings that Ian Woosnam termed “baggage.” This incident fired up the European team.

2014 Gleneagles Heckling Incident

At Gleneagles in 2014, Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley got heckled by the crowd and confronted the perpetrator. Bradley said European fans crossed the line at times.

2018 Patrick Reed-Jordan Spieth Breakup

The successful Reed-Spieth USA team pairing from prior years was broken up in 2018 due to reported animosity between the two stars. Spieth played instead with Justin Thomas.

While things never get too out of hand, Ryder Cup intensity has led to some infamously heated moments now part of the event’s lore.


The Ryder Cup is a 3-day biennial golf competition between the USA and Europe taking place over Friday, Saturday and Sunday. However, with additional lead-up activities, the full event is considered a 4-day spectacle.

With nearly a century of history since 1927, the Ryder Cup has produced countless memorable moments and achievements. The USA has traditionally dominated with 27 wins, but Europe has put up stiffer competition in recent decades.

The drama and excitement peaks over the critical final day 12 Sunday singles matches. With national pride on the line, the Ryder Cup never fails to deliver on thrilling golf theatre.

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