2023 Ryder Cup at Marco Simone format: How it works, scoring

Justin Rose

Justin Rose hits a shot on Thursday on the 4th hole at Marco Simone during a Ryder Cup practice round.

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Rory McIlroy says he’s wrong. The Ryder Cup, he believes now, is more than just an exhibition. It’s important to him. It’s a huge goal of his. 

He just wishes he could have inserted foot into mouth 14 years ago. 

After all, in 2009, he was in line for playing in his first Ryder Cup. And he said the following:

“It’s not a huge goal of mine. It’s an exhibition at the end of the day. In the big scheme of things, it’s not that important of an event for me.” 

On Wednesday, ahead of the Ryder Cup this year at Marco Simone, McIlroy was asked about those comments. He grimaced. 

“I took a bit of grief for those comments,” he said, “and rightfully so.”

“But I remember in 2010, in one of the practice rounds, I still had the sort of long, curly hair at that point and a few of the guys on the team came down to the first tee with wigs on and like sort of made a joke of it. Yeah, that meant a lot to me.

“I think just early in that week, and look, — I said it in that little video piece I did earlier in the week — it’s not as if I didn’t play team golf before or knew what it was about.

“I think in 2009, I was just so focused on myself and trying to get my career off the ground that I felt like I had sort of bigger and better things to achieve for my individual goals and stuff like that that I just didn’t put any emphasis on making a Ryder Cup team until you make one, and then you never want to be off one again.

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“I think that’s sort of the crux of it. So I love being a part of this team. My most enjoyable moments in my career have been being a part of European Ryder Cup teams. I’m still very, very proud and probably proudest of the things I’ve done as an individual, but nothing — nothing beats this week. It’s an amazing experience and I want to be a part of it for as long as I can.”

With that, let’s examine how the event works and its scoring. 

How the Ryder Cup works

To explain this, let’s ask some questions: 

– When does the Ryder Cup begin?

Friday. And it runs through Sunday. 

– Where is it?

Marco Simone in Italy. They’re six hours ahead — so if you’re in the U.S., plan accordingly. 

– Who’s playing?

A dozen Americans and a dozen Europeans. For the Americans, the roster is: Sam Burns, Patrick Cantlay, Wyndham Clark, Rickie Fowler, Brian Harman, Max Homa, Brooks Koepka, Collin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele, Scottie Scheffler, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas. For the Europeans, the roster is: McIlroy, Ludvig Aberg, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Nicolai Hojgaard, Viktor Hovland, Shane Lowry, Robert MacIntyre, Jon Rahm, Justin Rose and Sepp Straka

– How do they play the Ryder Cup?

They play it through a series of three formats. 

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On Friday and Saturday, they will play foursomes in the morning and four-ball in the afternoon. (Foursomes is alternate shot, where a team of two plays one ball, hits it alternately and one score is made; and four-ball is best ball, where the best score between a team of two carries the hole.) The foursomes and four-ball matches will be played between four two-man groupings of Americans and four two-man groupings of Europeans. 

On Sunday, they play singles, where all 12 Americans will play all 12 Europeans, one-on-one. 

How the scoring works 

To explain this, let’s ask more questions: 

– You talked about foursomes, four-ball and singles above. So how do they determine who wins?

Through match play. There, scores are kept per hole between the players, but they’re used only to determine who wins a hole. (For example, if you score a five, and I score a six, you win the hole. Or if you score a 50, and I score a 51, you win the hole.) The process then continues over 18 holes, though a match could end early if a player runs out of holes to make up a deficit. (For example, if you are up four holes, and there are only three to go, the match is over. The score of that match would be 4 and 3.) 

– But what if you tie? 

You halve the match. 

– How many points do you get if you win the match?

One. 

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– How many points do you get if you tie the match?

A half. 

– How many points do you get if you lose the match?

Zero. 

– How many total points are there?

Twenty-eight —eight on Friday, eight on Saturday, 12 on Sunday 

– So does that mean there could be a scenario where one team has 14 points and the other team has 14 points?

Yes. 

– Then what?

The team that won the Cup previously, in case the United States, retains it. 

– Thank you! 

You’re welcome! Enjoy the event! 

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Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.

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