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Ryder Cup 2012 scoring and format: 3-day tournament features exciting match play

The 39th Ryder Cup matches are being held from Sept. 28-30 at the Medinah Country Club, featuring foursome matches, fourball matches and exciting individual match play golf between the best golfers from the USA and Europe.

Andrew Redington - Getty Images

The 39th Ryder Cup matches are being held from Sept. 28-30 at the Medinah Country Club, and while most golf fans are well aware of the rules and format of the event, we thought we'd bring the rest of you up to speed on the aspects of this event that make it one of the most interesting competitions golf has to offer.

The Ryder Cup is a match play event, with each match being worth one point. There are 28 total points available, 14½ points would be required for the USA to win the Cup, while defending-champion Europe would only need 14 points to retain it.

The format is as follows:

Day One (Friday, Sept. 28): There will be 4 foursome (alternate shot) matches in the morning, followed by 4 fourball (better ball) matches in the afternoon. In layman's terms, the morning session sees a team of two golfers alternate shots until they finish a hole. They also alternate drives, so one member of the twosome tees off on even-numbered holes, the other tees off on odd-numbered holes. The afternoon session sees the team of two golfers play the hole out, with the team using the better score between the two.

Day Two (Saturday, Sept. 29): Same as Friday's action. 4 foursome matches int he morning, followed by 4 fourball matches in the afternoon.

Day Three (Sunday, Sept. 30): On the final day of play, there are 12 singles matches.

All of these matches are scored according to the match play scoring system, not the stroke play system of most tournaments. Those rules are best explained here, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Tournament play begins Friday.