Are The Ryder Cup Singles A Blind Draw?

The Sunday singles sees each player face an opponent in a straight battle for a point, but how are the match-ups determined?

Jon Rahm during the Sunday singles in the Ryder Cup at Marco Simone
Jon Rahm took on Scottie Scheffler in his Ryder Cup singles match at Marco Simone
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Sunday singles in the Ryder Cup differs from the other four sessions in that the team aspect is put to one side in a straight battle between each player and his opponent. But how are the Ryder Cup singles matches determined? 

The order in which the players begin their session is determined by each captain the night before. So, in the case of the 2023 edition at Marco Simone, Team Europe captain Luke Donald opted for Jon Rahm to go out first, followed by Viktor Hovland, then Justin Rose and so on, until the order for all 12 players is confirmed. Meanwhile, Team USA counterpart Zach Johnson started with Scottie Scheffler, then Collin Morikawa, with Patrick Cantlay next.

That meant that Rahm faced Scheffler, Hovland played Morikawa and Rose took on Cantlay. Where it gets interesting is that there is a random element thanks to a blind draw - neither captain is made aware of the order of the opposing team until each reveals their list.

Because of that, there is likely plenty of second-guessing as captains try to ascertain which player their opposite number will select for each position. 

That element of chance also adds intrigue as each captain has to decide whether to go with the strongest players early or hold some back for later, anticipating a strong finish. The state of play going into the Sunday singles will also be a factor in that decision. 

For example, in 2023, Team Europe held a commanding five-point lead ahead of the session, and needed just four more to take the trophy. That likely made Donald’s decision to send many of his best players out early quite straightforward, with one eye on getting the job done as soon as possible.

In any case, typically, captains send their strongest players first, which is the lowest-risk strategy as it offers the best chance of getting some early points on the board.

To go back to the Rahm vs Scheffler example, that means that, though each captain will have had a reasonable hunch that each would go with those players to start, they couldn't know for certain. 

As a result, it means that the match-up was not entirely pre-determined, even though the pair also faced each other in their singles match at Whistling Straits in 2021, albeit with the pair going out third on that occasion. 

Ultimately, regardless of the order, one thing is certain in the Sunday singles - every player involved in the Ryder Cup is called on to play. In the end, whoever they are up against, how each individual performs will go a long way to determining the outcome of each match.

Mike Hall

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.