THE 39th Ryder Cup gets under way on Friday with Europe taking on the USA at the Medinah Country Club in Illinois, United States, in a contest that is simply too close to call.

Whilst the Americans have the advantage of a patriotic and famously vociferous crowd, the European team possesses four of the top five golfers in the current world rankings, with Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy leading the charge at number one.

However, look a little further down the rankings and you will find a top 20 dominated by Americans, and this, coupled with the home support, is why many bookmakers have them as slight favourites leading into the tournament.

Both teams have 12 players, with Friday and Saturday consisting of 4 foursome matches and 4 fourball matches, whilst the Sunday sees 12 singles matches, pitting one American against one European with one point offered for each round won. Both teams will be aiming for the magical 14 1/2 point-mark which would give them an unassailable lead and ultimately, one of the greatest prizes in golf.

Naturally, the format can seem rather confusing to those who are not avid golf watchers, so for more information, any readers should head to

History shows an American domination in the Ryder Cup, but recently the balance of power has somewhat shifted. As defenders of the Cup, Europe will be hoping that the trophy will be on the plane home also, though to do that, they have to beat a strong American team in what promises to be a nerve-wracking and intense three days of golf.