The Loop

Could Ryder Cup format be changed for good?

October 02, 2010

NEWPORT, Wales - While the decision to alter the schedule of the 38th Ryder Cup in an attempt to conclude on Sunday (still not a sure thing, because of the weather forecast) has its critics, the improvisation has one unintended consequence : It makes one wonder if future Ryder Cups should have a different format.

When officials compressed three scheduled team sessions into two elongated ones, it had the effect of putting every player on the 12-man sides in action in each of them -- just as is the case in the current Presidents Cup format for the first two days of that four-day international competition with 34 total points at stake.

At the Presidents Cup, the third day consists of two five-match sessions (one of foursomes, one of four-balls), followed by a day of singles.

The Ryder Cup could copy the Presidents Cup format, or seek a more creative way to structure the the third day -- give the team that's leading after two sessions the choice of another six-match day of either foursomes or four-balls. If the score was knotted, a tie-breaker could be the total number of holes won.

While some might think the three-day, five-series, 28-point format of the Ryder Cup, in places since 1981, is sacrosanct, the competition has changed substantially since it began in 1927. Through 1959, one day of four foursomes matches and one day of eight singles matches  (36-holes for each) was the rule. Various schemes were utilized for the next two decades, including two sessions of singles play on the final day many years, and available points ranging from 20 to 32.

The odds probably aren't in favor of a Ryder Cup format change, but seeing sessions that include every player on both teams has its appeal.

-- *Bill Fields