The Ryder Cup Matches, as they're officially known, are a biennial golf competition between the United States and Europe.
The competition debuted in 1927 and is named after Samuel Ryder, an English businessman, golf enthusiast and golf promoter, who donated a solid gold trophy.
The three-day matches alternate between locales in the U.S. and Europe. The 2012 Ryder Cup, at Medinah Country Club, will be the first-ever played in Illinois.
The Ryder Cup involves a series of match-play competitions between players selected from two teams of 12. Each team has a captain who is tasked with choosing which players on the team will compete in the foursome, fourball and singles matches.
- In foursomes, the teammates play one ball, taking alternate shots until the hole is completed. They also alternate tee shots; one tees off on odd-numbered holes, while the other tees off on even-numbered holes.
- In fourball competition, each golfer plays their own ball. The team whose player has the lowest score wins the hole, which is worth one point. If there's a tie, the teams split the point.
- In single competition, players compete in match play head-to-head. The player who wins earns a point for the team. Ties are split between the teams.
There are 28 total points possible in the Ryder Cup, which the championship going to whichever team earns the most points. In the event of a 14-14 tie, the team that won the last tournament keeps the Ryder Cup trophy. Europe won the 2010 Ryder Cup, which was played at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, Wales.
The competition takes place over three days. On the first two days, Friday and Saturday, there are four foursomes matches and four fourball matches. The third day, Sunday, consists of 12 singles matches, ensuring single play for each member of a team.