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2012 Ryder Cup format and rules: foursomes, fourballs and points

The 2012 Ryder Cup is contested a bit differently than your average golf tournament, with foursomes, fourballs, and the winner being determined by points, not strokes.

Andrew Redington - Getty Images

The 2012 Ryder Cup begins Friday, and with international teams competing the format and rules are a bit different than your average PGA golf tournament. Here's a quick rundown of foursomes, fourballs, and everything else you need to know to enjoy the Ryder Cup.

Day 1 of the event, will feature four foursome alternate shot matches in the morning and four fourball matches in the afternoon. In the foursome matches two two-man teams will be paired up, and each team will alternate shots between men on each hole, as well as trade off which man tees off from hole to hole. The first man tees off, the second man takes the next shot, then the first man again, until the hole is complete. In a fourball match, two two-man teams compete with each golfer playing his own ball, and the team's score is the lower team member's score.

Saturday is the same format as Friday, with four foursome matches and four fourball matches.

Sunday is a more standard format, with 12 singles matches taking place.

Each match is worth one point, making 28 total points available. 14-1/2 points are needed to win the cup, and in the event of a 14-14 tie the cup is retained by the defending champions. In this year's tournament, that would be Europe.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.