How Are Golfers Selected to Play in the Ryder Cup?

Members of Team Europe with the Ryder Cup in 2014
Golfers in the Ryder Cup - this is Team Europe in 2014 - are selected via a combination of point lists and captain's picks. David Cannon/Getty Images

Ryder Cup player selection guidelines for Team USA are determined by the PGA of America, and those for Team Europe are determined by the European Tour.

In broad strokes, the team-building process works like this: Both sides use the same selection method — most of the team qualifies automatically via points lists, and the remaining spots are filled at the discretion of the respective team captains. In the case of points lists, players accumulate points over periods specified by the PGA or Euro Tour.

Each Ryder Cup team consists of 12 golfers.

It's important to note that the specifics of the selection methods can change (and often have) from Ryder Cup to Ryder Cup, at the discretion of the European Tour and PGA of America, respectively.

How Europe's Ryder Cup Team Is Selected

For Team Europe, the specific player selection process involves maintaining two separate points lists: the World Points List and the European Tour Points List.

The World Points Lists tracks golfers who are eligible to play for Team Europe and is based on the number of world ranking points earned by those golfers. The European Tour Points List is based on money earned by Team Europe-eligible golfers playing on the European Tour.

The European side uses two points lists because some European golfers play in the United States on the PGA Tour, while others play primarily on the European Tour.

For both lists, points earned in the year of the Ryder Cup are weighted more heavily than those earned in the previous (non-Ryder Cup) year. (The lists can be viewed on rydercup.com — select the Team Europe option.)

Team Europe's 12-player roster is filled out this way:

  • Top 4 players from European Points list
  • Four highest-ranking players on World Points list not already qualified via the Euro points list
  • Four captain's picks

How the USA's Ryder Cup Team Is Selected

For Team USA, one points list is maintained, and it is based on money earned in major championships, WGC tournaments and regular PGA Tour events (opposite field tournaments are not counted). Also note that regular PGA Tour events award points only in the year of the Ryder Cup.

The points list covers most of the two years between Cups, and money earned in majors and other PGA Tour events in Year 2 (the year the Ryder Cup is taking place) is weighted more heavily than earnings from the first year.

Team USA's 12-player roster is filled out this way:

  • Top 8 players from the American points list
  • Four captain's selections