Ryder Cup beginner's guide: Teams, timings, schedule, format, history and other key questions
Team Europe are defending champions of the Ryder Cup after their 17.5-10.5 victory in 2018; Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, USA hosts this year's contest - watch throughout the week live on Sky Sports' dedicated Ryder Cup channel
By Sky Sports Golf
Last Updated: 22/09/21 9:09am
How does the scoring system work? Who is playing for Team Europe? When does it start? Here's a beginner's guide to the Ryder Cup, live this month on Sky Sports.
What is the Ryder Cup?
The Ryder Cup is a biennial competition played over three days between teams of 12 players from the USA and Europe. Created by Samuel Ryder, the tournament was first held in 1927 and this week's event is the 43rd edition of the contest.
Originally between the US and a team from Great Britain and Ireland, the tournament expanded in 1979 to allow players from continental Europe to take part. This year's contest was originally due to take place in September 2020, only to be pushed back 12 months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Who is involved?
Each team has a non-playing captain, which this year is Padraig Harrington for Europe and Steve Stricker for the USA. They both have five vice-captains to assist them with their team.
Europe has nine players who secured their places via a lengthy qualification process, extended due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with the team completed by three captain's selections.
The home side had a slightly longer qualification campaign, concluding the BMW Championship, with Stricker then naming six wildcards to his six automatic qualifiers the following week.
Captain: Steve Stricker
Vice-captains: Fred Couples, Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson, Davis Love III, Phil Mickelson
Line-up: Daniel Berger, Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Harris English, Tony Finau, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Collin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele, Scottie Scheffler, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas
Captain: Padraig Harrington
Vice-captains: Luke Donald, Robert Karlsson, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Henrik Stenson
Line-up: Paul Casey, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia, Tyrrell Hatton, Viktor Hovland, Shane Lowry, Rory McIlroy, Ian Poulter, Jon Rahm, Lee Westwood, Bernd Wiesberger
What is the format?
There are 28 matches played over the three days, under three different types of match play - foursomes, fourballs and singles.
Foursomes sees two golfers from Europe compete against a pair from the USA, with team members alternating between shots and each team using one ball. Four matches are played on Friday morning and four on Saturday morning.
Fourballs also sees two golfers from each team compete, but each player uses his own ball. The lowest score from each pair will count for the score for their side. There are four fourball matches each afternoon for the first two days.
The final day sees all 24 players compete in singles matches, where every member from the USA team plays against a European opponent in a head-to-head contest.
How does scoring work?
The match play format is a hole-by-hole scoring system, where a player or team can win the hole if they post a lower score than their opponent. If the scores are level on a hole, then the overall score for that match stays the same.
If a player or team leads the match by more than one, then the score is 2up or whatever the margin is. A match can be completed before 18 holes are completed, if a player or team has built an unassailable lead, with each match worth one point.
The team who gets to 14.5 points first will win the Ryder Cup. If the tournament ends in a 14-14 draw, which last happened in 1989, then Europe as defending champions will retain the trophy.
When does play start?
Play is scheduled to begin at 1.05pm BST over the first two days, with the foursomes matches going off at 16-minute intervals at 1.21pm, 1.37pm and 1.53pm.
The afternoon fourball matches are scheduled to begin at 6.10pm on Friday and Saturday, with the other three fixtures due to start at 6.26pm, 6.42pm and 6.58pm and play expected to be finished around 12.30am.
The Sunday singles matches start at the later time of 5.05pm BST, with games going off in 11-minute intervals and the final match due to begin at 7.05pm. Play should be complete by around 11pm, with the closing ceremony taking place shortly afterwards.
How can I watch on Sky Sports?
Round-the-clock coverage throughout tournament week will be available live on Sky Sports' dedicated Ryder Cup channel, with live shows every day from Wisconsin from Monday, September 20 through to the final day on September 26.
All three tournament days will be live on Sky Sports Ryder Cup, as part of nearly 70 hours of live coverage during tournament week, with 'Ryder Cup Brunch' also being shown on both Saturday and Sunday.
Extended highlights from each day's play will be available to enjoy the following morning, for those unable to stay up into the early hours to watch the Ryder Cup action, while the final day's play will be repeated in full on Monday, September 27.