The Ryder Cup is one of the most thrilling events in sport, pitching Europe against the United States of America in the game of golf. Even those that don’t particularly like golf can find themselves becoming engrossed in the competition, such is the nature of how it works. The entire point of it is to get points on the board from a maximum of 28, so players that have added points consistently will obviously be well-respected. There are some that have made the record books thanks to their ability to win points under pressure, with both teams having their heroes.
You might want to know who it is that has won the most points in Ryder Cup history, as well as who has won the most for Europe and who has been the top scorer for the US. This is the place to head for that information, given the fact that we’ll look to break it down and explain why it is that the leaders are where they are. It is important to note that we’re writing this after the 2023 Ryder Cup, with all data being accurate up to that point.
Quick Answer: Which Player Has Scored the Most Ryder Cup Points?
Spain and Europe’s Sergio Garcia is the record Ryder Cup points scorer with a total of 28.5 scored across 10 tournaments between 1999 and 2021. Next best is Nick Faldo with 25 points followed by Lee Westwood and Bernhard Langer both with 24 points.
What Is The Ryder Cup?
First things first and a quick explanation of what the Ryder Cup actually is. It is a golf tournament that, unlike most golf competitions, is played in teams. Rather than the golfers going out there against one another, playing as individuals, it sees them become part of either team Europe or team USA. The fans are a huge part of the Ryder Cup, living and breathing every moment of it and adding to the atmosphere in a way that makes it one of the best tournaments in sport. The competition sees the first two days playing fourballs and foursomes, which are as follows:
- Fourballs: Each golfer hits their own ball, with the best score out of the two winning the hole for that team
- Foursomes: The two golfers share a ball, taking it turns to hit the shot and alternating who will take the tee shot
On the final day, all 12 players the team head onto the golf course and go up against a golfer from the opposite team in the singles.
If a hole is won, the team takes the score from the hole, whilst if it is halved then no one does. The players continue to play until either the round is completed or until one team or player has won enough holes to mean that they other player or team can’t catch them. In other words, if you have won three holes with only two left to play, you will have won 3&2, earning a point for your team. If the round ends up being tied, with both players or teams having won the same number of holes as each other, each team will be given half a point.
There are 12 players on each team, but not all 12 players have to play in the fourballs and foursomes on the first day. Instead, eight players are chosen for the fourballs and eight are chosen for the foursomes, with there obviously being some overlap. The players are chosen by the captains of each team, who are non-playing golfers that also have vice-captains to advise them. All 12 players do go out in the singles on the final day, meaning that there are a total of 28 points to be won. As soon as a team gets to 14.5 points, they have won the Ryder Cup, whilst 14-all means that it is shared and retained by the team that won it the previous time it was played.
Sergio Garcia – The Ryder Cup’s Record Points Scorer
At the time of writing, the best played in Ryder Cup history is Sergio Garcia. The Spanish player made ten appearances for Europe between 1999 and 2021, during which time he managed to achieve 28.5 points. That would have been more than enough for him to win a Ryder Cup on his own, but he finished his Ryder Cup career with 25 wins, seven halves and 13 defeats. When he played in the European team in 1999, he became the youngest-ever player to compete in the competition, missing just one tournament as a player in the 22 years that followed.
Even when he wasn’t selected for the Ryder Cup team in 2010, he still served as a vice-captain for the European team. Here is how each Ryder Cup paned out for Garcia during his career:
Europe’s Best Performing Golfers
We know, then, that Sergio Garcia is the best golfer to have played in the Ryder Cup in terms of the points that he won for Europe, but how have other players got on in this most interesting of golf tournaments? Here is the top 10 European players of all-time:
The US’s Best Performing Golfers
Sergio Garcia sits 3.5 points in front of his next closest rival for the top spot in Sir Nick Faldo, but how have the best-performing Americans got on when compared to the Spaniard? Here is a look at the 10 players that would make the United States of America’s Ryder Cup top team, as of the end of the 2023 tournament:
Europe’s best 10 golfers in the history of the Ryder Cup won 219.5 points between them. The best 10 players of America, meanwhile, won 191.5. Little wonder, therefore, that Europe always feels as though they have the advantage.
The Best In Each Discipline
Another aspect worth looking at when it comes to the best-performing Ryder Cup players is which ones have excelled in the specific discipline that they’ve played in. Here is a look at each:
Ryder Cup Most Singles Points – 1927 to 2023
|Colin Montgomerie (1991 – 2006)||Europe||6||2||0||7|
|Lee Trevino (1969 – 1981)||United States||6||2||2||7|
|Billy Casper (1961 – 1975)||United States||6||2||2||7|
|Arnold Palmer (1961 – 1973)||United States||6||2||3||7|
|Neil Coles (1961 – 1977)||Great Britain & Ireland||5||4||6||7|
Between the first ever 1927 and the last in 2023, there have been five players that have managed to win seven points in the singles part of the competition. You will notice that Neil Coles has Great Britain & Ireland next to his name rather than Europe. That is because, during the formative years of the Ryder Cup, it was competed between the United States of America and golfers from Great Britain and Ireland.
Ryder Cup Most Fourball Points – 1927 to 2023
|Ian Woosnam (1983 to 1997)||Europe||10||2||3||10.5|
|José María Olazábal (1987 to 2006)||Europe||9||3||2||10.5|
|Sergio Garcia (1999 to 2021)||Europe||9||3||4||10.5|
|Seve Ballesteros (1979 to 1995)||Europe||8||2||5||9|
|Lee Westwood (1997 to 2021)||Europe||8||2||6||9|
|Phil Mickelson (1995 t0 2018)||United States||8||2||8||9|
In fourballs, each golfer has their own ball that they play with, which makes it much more like the normal game of golf. During the time period that we’re looking at, three players managed to win 10.5 points for their team in fourball play.
Ryder Cup Most Foursome Points – 1927 to 2023
|Sergio García (1999 to 2021)||Europe||12||3||4||13.5|
|Bernhard Langer (1981 to 2002)||Europe||11||1||6||11.5|
|Nick Faldo (1977 to 1997)||Europe||10||2||6||11|
|Lee Westwood (1997 to 2021)||Europe||9||4||7||11|
|Seve Ballesteros (1979 to 1995)||Europe||10||1||3||10.5|
|Tony Jacklin (1967 to 1979)||Europe||8||4||1||10|
It is fair to say that foursomes are an entirely different challenge to fourballs. Rather than just having your own ball to think about, you need to be able to work with your partner to play as well as possible. Sometimes you’ll need to put them in a good position, other times you’ll need to get them out of a hole.
Not only is Sergio Garcia the best ever player in Ryder Cup history in terms of points won, he’s also the standout player when it comes to foursomes. He notched up 13.5 points during his time playing in the competition, which is better than any other player. He lost just four times when put up against a player from the United States, as if he had a personal grudge against them.
Most Points In A Single Ryder Cup
The final point worth looking at when it comes to the Ryder Cup and point scoring is which player or players managed to win the most points in one tournament. In actual fact, nine players managed to win five points during a Ryder Cup contest between 1927 and 2023, with the player and the country that they played for being as follows:
Players Scoring 5 Points in a Ryder Cup – 1927 to 2023
|2021||Dustin Johnson||United States||United States|
|1979||Larry Nelson||United States||United States|
|1971||Jack Nicklaus||United States||United States|
|1969||Tony Jacklin||Great Britain||Draw – US Retain|
|1967||Arnold Palmer||United States||United States|
|1967||Gardner Dicksinson||United States||United States|
|1965||Tony Lema||United States||United States|
|1965||Peter Alliss||Great Britain||United States|
You can see that the USA has had the most players that have taken the fight to Europe across a Ryder Cup. You’ll also notice that some of the players are listed as having played for GB, which is because it was Great Britain v the United States of America before it was Great Britain and Ireland.