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What do Team USA and Team Europe need to win the Ryder Cup? What happens if there’s a tie?

Captains Luke Donald and Zach Johnson face hugely different challenges going into Sunday’s singles matches at Marco Simone in Rome.

Captains Luke Donald and Zach Johnson face hugely different challenges going into Sunday’s singles matches at Marco Simone in Rome.

In the first three sessions of the 2023 Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club on the outskirts of Rome, Team USA barely showed up. There was a 4-0 whitewash for Europe in the opening Friday foursomes, the failure to win a single match on day one and a record 9&7 thrashing for star duo Scottie Scheffler and Brooks Koepka on Saturday morning.

Max Homa and Brian Harman got the US’ first full point on the board by defeating Shane Lowry and Sepp Straka in the foursomes but the hosts were ahead by 9.5 points to 2.5 halfway through play on day two. Then, the tide began to turn.

Cantlay and Clark offer glimmer of hope to Team USA

Homa and Harman scored their second point of the day against Tommy Fleetwood and Nicolai Hojgaard after Sam Burns and Collin Morikawa had earlier defeated Viktor Hovland and Ludwig Aberg. But if it hadn’t been for a dramatic turnaround in the final fourballs match featuring Patrick Cantlay and Wyndham Clark, there would be no hope left at all for Team USA.

The Americans were one down to Rory McIlory and Matt Fitzpatrick after 16 but won the last two holes to take the victory for their team. If the visitors go on to win in Italy, that will prove to be perhaps the most crucial point in Ryder Cup history.

How many points do Europe need to win the 2023 Ryder Cup?

In its current format, there are 28 points up for grabs in the Ryder Cup, which means either team must get to 14.5 to ensure an outright victory. After their performance on the first two days in Rome, Europe require just four points from Sunday’s 12 singles matches to regain the trophy they lost at Whistling Straits in 2021.

To put that into context, only twice before has a team earned fewer than four points in the final session. In the 1999 “Battle of Brookline”, the Europeans were 10-6 ahead after two days but picked up only 3.5 points on Sunday and lost to Ben Crenshaw’s US team.

The roles were then reversed in the so-called “Miracle at Medina” in 2012 as the Americans surrendered the same advantage in the final session.

How many points do Team USA need to retain the 2023 Ryder Cup?

Those remain the biggest comebacks in Ryder Cup history, with the winning team in both instances taking 8.5 points out of 12 in Sunday’s singles matches. And that is the exact tally Zach Johnson’s men need in Rome to ensure they keep their hands on the trophy.

USA must break the record to win outright

Having won two years ago, Team USA will retain the trophy if there is a 14-14 tie at the end of play on Sunday. In order to win the event outright, they would have to do what no team has ever done before and take nine of the 12 points available on the final day.