The host team, the Americans, decide which format is played first and which format second. Foursomes and fourballs are played exclusively the first two days. Europe has traditionally been strong in the team competition, particularly the foursomes (alternate shot).
A player or side wins when he/they are up more than there are holes left to play. For example, 3 and 2 means that team is up three holes with only two left to play ' a closeout. A final score of 1-up means the winner got to the 18th hole and won if it was tied, or held the lead until the hole was finished. If a player was 1-up when the 18th began and he won the hole, he wins the match 2-up.
Unlike some match-play competitions, there is no sudden death -- or extra holes. If the match is tied after 18 holes it is called a Half. Each side is awarded a half-point. A win is worth one point. A loss is worth zero points. It takes 14 1/2 points to win the Ryder Cup. The Europeans, as defending champions, can retain the cup with a 14-14 tie.
Four matches are played in the morning and four in the afternoon the first two days, with the singles played the third day. Captains selections for the two-man teams are made by a blind draw before the matches begin ' the U.S. captain submits the names of four two-man teams, in the order they will play. The European captain does the same, and then it is revealed which players will play which. This is done twice a day, morning and afternoon, prior to that sessions matches.
Americas team is selected from a points list over almost a two-year period - since the previous Ryder Cup. Points are doubled the second year. Points are awarded for top-10 finishers in PGA Tour-sanctioned events, with greater points added for major championships.
The European competition is from a pair of points systems based on the Order of Merit, the European money list, as well as the Official World Golf Ranking.
Both captains are also given two captain's pick to use at their discrection and round out their respective team of 12.