What Happens if the 2023 Ryder Cup Ends in a Tie? Possible Solution for an Ending Unlike Solheim Cup

Published 09/25/2023, 12:03 PM EDT

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In the golf world, when tour events end with a tie between players at the first position there will be a playoff to decide who wins the title. In case of ties in second positions or below that, usually, players go home with a shared position. 

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For additional players sharing a position, the subsequent positions will be canceled. If two players share the second position, then the third position will be taken off. This is how the rules generally work.

But when it comes to a team event like the Ryder Cup, how will ties be handled? Let’s explore the possibilities but first, let’s familiarise ourselves with the guest list for the party. 


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Who is playing this year in the Ryder Cup?

You must have been incredibly busy if you have not heard of the Ryder Cup team members for this year. But we understand that you might have been. So here are the rosters.

Team US transferred six members straight from the Ryder Cup points table’s top six positions. Scottie Scheffler, Wyndham Clark, and Brian Harman were occupying the top three positions. Patrick Cantlay, Max Homa, and Xander Schauffele followed them. 


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Captain Zach Johnson had six picks he could make to complete the 12-member team. He chose the following players: Sam Burns, Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepka, Collin Morikawa, Jordan Speith, and Justin Thomas.

Team Europe has three direct entrants from the European Points list, and they are Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, and Robert MacIntyre. Three players qualified based on their World Points list and they are Viktor Hovland, Tyrrell Hatton, and Matt Fitzpatrick.

Luke Donald, the European team’s captain believed in the following six players to aid his side. The six of them are Ludvig Aberg, Tommy Fleetwood, Nicolai Hojgaard, Shane Lowry, Justin Rose, and Sepp Straka.

Now that we have addressed the who, let’s move on to how!

What is the format of the tournament?

Ryder Cup is played in three days. On the first two days, the Friday and the Saturday, two sessions are in order. The morning sessions host foursome matches and the afternoon sessions host four-ball matches. There are four matches in each session.

After the 16 matches on the first two days, the game moves on to Sunday. All twelve players from both sides are matched against each other for one-on-one battles. That makes 12 matches on day 3.  Altogether there are 28 matches in total. 

Foursomes are played in pairs. On each side, the two players alternate between the shots played on a ball, until the ball is holed. One partner goes for the tee shots on odd holes, and the other goes for the even holes. The routine continues until the hole is finished

Four-ball is also a team matchplay format. In each team, both players play the tee shot, and whichever ball favors the team more gets chosen for the next shot. Again both players play the shot once each from the same spot. Again the ball in the better position is chosen and the loop continues until the hole is finished.  

The scoring is the trickier part of the process and let’s break that down next!

How are the teams scored in the Ryder Cup?

In each hole whichever team finished the hole in a lesser number of strokes takes the win. If the two teams have an equal number of strokes, then the score is halved for that hole. The team with a higher number of points from the holes takes the win. The lead that they hold is considered their score.

There is an alternate scenario, however. In some cases, one team possesses a major lead against the other. In such cases, a rule applies to the scoring. If the leading team’s lead is higher than the number of holes to be played, then the match is stopped there. 

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For example, if Team Europe scores 8.5 points, and Team USA scores 4.5 points after 14 holes. The lead is 4 of 4 points, and there are four holes remaining. So the game goes on. Assume the hole is halved. The lead remains 4, but there are three holes left. Now the match stops.

The leading gets their lead as their score, and the trailing team gets the number of holes they have left as their score. However, irrespective of the score, the winning team gets 1 point for a match, and the losing team gets 0. 

What happens in case of a tie?

In case a match is tied at the end of 18 holes, no extra holes are played. Both teams get half a point for that match. And the points from all the matches are totalled and the total always equals 28. 

In case there is a lead, the leading team is declared as the winner of the Ryder Cup. In case of a tie… well here is the fun part. In case of a tie, then the tournament doesn’t continue for a playoff. Neither does it announce a tie at the end. The defending champions will be declared as the winners of the tournament as per policy. 

This has happened twice in the history of the Ryder Cup. Once in 1969, the total matches were 32, and there was a 16-16 tie. Team US fought against Team Great Britain and Ireland at the time. The US team was the defending champion and it took home the Ryder Cup.

In 1989, twenty years later, the Ryder Cup was already the way it is now. Team US fought Team Europe in 28 matches and ended the tournament with a score of 14-14. The defending champion, Europe took with it the Ryder Cup for the year 1989.


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Will there be a tie in the Ryder Cup 2023?

The question arises because the Solheim Cup 2023 just got over and ended in a tie after 28 matches, and the defending champion, Europe, clinched the Cup. 

In case something similar happens in the Ryder Cup this year, the defending champion, Team US will bring home the Ryder Cup this year. That would break the 30-year win streak Europe has at home. 


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The 2021 Ryder Cup was heavily dominated by Team US though. Europe conceded defeat with a huge margin of 10 points.  We’ll wait and see what happens this year!

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Written by:

Vignesh K


One take at a time

Vignesh joined EssentiallySports as a writer through the latest 'ES Draft' recruits. Even though he is just starting out, Vignesh has gone on to prove himself to be one of the most promising writers in golf. His passion for the sport is often reflected in his writing, especially when it comes to anything with LPGA star Charley Hull.
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