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Golf's Ryder Cup by numbers

By Paul Gittings, CNN
  • This year's Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor in Wales will the 38th staging of the team event
  • The United States has won 25 of the previous contests with two tied
  • Since men from Continental Europe have played the record is seven wins each with one tie
  • The United States hold the Ryder Cup after a superb win at Valhalla in 2008

(CNN) -- The Ryder Cup is a biennial match between the best golfers from the United States and Europe which has developed over the years into one of the most eagerly-awaited and hotly-contested events on the sporting calendar.

This year's match takes place at Celtic Manor in Wales from October 1-3, where huge galleries will watch the action close up with many more millions viewing on television.

The United States are the holders after their upset victory at Valhalla in 2008, but Europe start as narrow favorites on home soil with many of their players in fine form this season, winning two of golf's four majors.

Here's is CNN's numerical guide to a contest which will spark worldwide interest, particularly on both sides of the Atlantic.

37: The number of matches that have been held since the first in 1927, the brainchild of English entrepreneur Sam Ryder, with the United States claiming 25 victories against 10 losses with two ties. The team holding the trophy retain the Ryder Cup in the event of a tie. There were no matches in 1939, 1941, 1943, and 1945 due to World War II while the 2001 contest was delayed for a year due to the 9/11 terror attacks.

I don't think you would have missed that Tony, but I didn't want to give you the chance
--Jack Nicklaus
  • Ryder Cup
  • Golf
  • Jack Nicklaus
  • Tony Jacklin

7: The number of wins for each side (with one tie) since the introduction of professionals from continental Europe for the 1979 match. The great Seve Ballesteros and his Spanish counterpart Antonio Garrido were the first to appear in 1979. Since then players from Denmark, France, Germany, Italy and Sweden have bolstered the Team Europe ranks while interest in the match has soared.

14 1/2: The magic number required for either side to claim outright victory come Sunday evening. Under the current format, eight foursomes and eight four ball matches take place on the first two days. The contest is concluded with 12 singles matches. All are under matchplay rules with the lowest score on each hole winning. Foursomes sees a team of two play the same ball with alternate shots. Four balls has teams of two who play their own ball.

12: The numbers of players on each side, who are picked by a variety of methods. This year's United States team saw eight men gain selection through their performances on the PGA Tour, with a further four selected by captain Corey Pavin. The European team had nine guaranteed selection by either their performances on the European Tour or in world ranking events. Three were at the discretion of captain Colin Montgomerie and he sparked controversy by leaving out world top tenner Paul Casey in favor of Padraig Harrington, who has been out of form.

36: The number of major wins accumulated by probably the strongest team in the history of the Ryder Cup, the United States line-up at Walton Heath in 1981 which boasted the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Lee Trevino and Johnny Miller. To add to Europe's woes, Ballesteros was snubbed because he had played too much in the United States and an 18 1/2 to 9 1/2 defeat was all but inevitable.

1985: The year of the first triumph for the combined European team as Tony Jacklin's men scored a famous five-point victory at The Belfry. Sam Torrance came from three down against Andy North to clinch the Cup with a birdie on the 18th. The European team staged a champagne celebration on the roof of the hotel as Concorde flew over. It marked the end of U.S. domination and ushered in a new era for the contest.

25: The most points won by an individual player, Europe's Nick Faldo, who has also played in the record number of Ryder Cups, 11 as an ever-present from 1977 to 1997. Faldo's is one of five players to achieve a hole in one, but his most memorable Ryder Cup moment came in 1995 at Oak Hill when he got down in two shots from nearly 100 yards out to score the decisive win over Curtis Strange. Cue massive hugs from Ballesteros and tears all round.

45: The number in feet of the putt holed by Justin Leonard as the United States staged a stirring comeback to win the 1999 match at Brookline and interrupt a period of European domination which saw them win five contests out of six. The frenzied celebrations which followed proved highly contentious as Jose Maria Olazabal still had a putt to halve the match. It had echoes of the equally controversial 1991 match at Kiawah Island, dubbed the War on the Shore, and also won by the home side.

3: The number of wins from three matches achieved by home hero Darren Clarke as Europe thrashed the United States at the K-Club in Ireland. Clarke had lost his wife Heather to cancer a month before the match but his inspired play symbolized a one-sided home victory. Cheered to the rafters onto the first tee, the Ulsterman split the first fairway with a massive drive and the momentum he gained from the subsequent birdie was never lost.

5: Margin of points victory as the United States upset the heavily-favored Europeans to win back the Ryder Cup at Valhalla in Kentucky. Missing the injured Tiger Woods, few gave them a prayer against Nick Faldo's experienced line-up, but inspired play by a mixture of rookies and veterans saw Paul Azinger's team triumph. And who can forget the last day antics of Boo Weekley as he rode his driver like a bucking bronco down the first fairway ?

3: Length of the putt in feet conceded by the great Jack Nicklaus in his famous halved match with Tony Jacklin at the 1969 match at Royal Birkdale. Coming down the 18th at the seaside links, their match, the last on course, was tied and the contest was dead level. Nicklaus holed his four-foot for par to leave Jacklin with a tricky three-footer for a half. Nicklaus promptly picked up his opponent's ball telling him: "I don't think you would have missed that Tony, but I didn't want to give you the chance." It was the first tied match in the history of the Ryder Cup, but as an act of sportsmanship it will always be remembered. Sheer class.

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