The Ryder Cup is a golf tournament in which a trophy is given between United State and the European golfers. The trophy was donated by Samuel Ryder an it is awarded to which ever team wins it during these tournaments. The events are held every two years and it rotates between either country to the golf course of their choice.
This event started in 1927 as teams representing America and the British PGA players. These early matches were fairly even but after World War II the Unites States were dominate until in 1979 European PGA members were part of the British team. This all started after the success of Seve Ballesteros as the first Spanish player to be part of this event. Following Seve players from other European countries have taken part in this tournament.
As this happened the Ryder Cup has become more competitive with Europe winning several time recently. As a result of this change the event has enjoyed more competitive matches, with Europe winning seven times and retaining the cup once, compared to six American wins.
The format of these Ryder Cup games are a match play between players either in a two man team of twelve. This includes eight foursome matches, eight fourball matches and twelve single matches. The winner of these match scores are a point system for the teams with a half point for ties in the match. These points are totaled up over the length of the tournament to decide the winner of the Ryder Cup. Each match is an eighteen hole match unless the team wins their match with not enough holes left to play for the other team to pull ahead.
In the format it can be an alternate shot between the teams using the same ball. The team who wins with the less strokes in those eighteen holes is given the points. In the fourball match the competition between two teams of two golfers but all four golfers play their own ball. Each hole won by the team with the lowest score is given the point. The last day is single matches when each golfer is paired up against another a player from the other side. So this is twelve matches with one American against one European.
These events are held over three days as on Friday there are matches in the morning and again in the afternoon this is repeated on Saturday for the foursome matches. Sunday is left for the singles matches and in match play they all play until they win their set and no more holes are left for the other player to make up the difference.
As for the Captains it is their job to match each golfer against another golfer from the other side. They must post their choices the evening before the matches and not all players selected for the Ryder Cup play in the every match. The Captains selects eight players for each of the games on Friday and Saturday. The system has changed through out the years as with most every type of tournament but it still stays match play.
For 2008 the format will not stay the same as in previous Ryder Cup as the first opening matches will be the alternate shot format, this change was announced in January. Alternate shots or foursomes had been used since 1981 as the previous matches have started with the better ball format.
Selecting the players also changes from time to time and this year the U.S. teams will be players who played well in major championships. This year the top eight players will automatically qualify for this years Ryder Cup. The remaining four Captains picks will be determined in September of this year. Paul Azinger who is this years Captain has announced his eight players as: Phil Mickleson, Stewart Cink, Kenny Perry, Jim Furyk, Anthony Kim, Justin Leonard, Ben Curtis and Boo Weekley. Tiger Woods is unable to participate because of his knee surgery earlier this year. Paul will announce the Captains pick next month to round out the American team.
The recent Golf Digest magazine has several good articles on the Ryder Cup with a lay out of the golf course of Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky.