The First Call Inbox

Is a tie a proper finish for the Ryder Cup or Solheim Cup?

After a 14-14 finish at the recent Solheim Cup, the question was raised as to whether there should be a tiebreaker for such outcomes. The First Call readers share their takes

Ryder Cup 2023
The United States' Patrick Cantlay and Europe's Rory McIlroy shake hands following their foursomes match on Day 1 of the 2023 Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club.

Question of the week [September 25-October 1]: How should the Solheim Cup and Ryder Cup be decided if the final score is a tie?

RELATED: The First Call Inbox archive

After final 18 Holes? Tied? Let it stand. No playoff.

Bill Bamber
Edmonton, Alberta

There has been talk of how to do a playoff, but there has already been a full complement of matches played that could be used to determine the winner, and it is simple.

Every match has a final score. If you take the number of points that a player/pair won by in each match — for example, a player wins 3 and 2, so they were 3 points ahead when the match was decided, and the pair that loses gets zero points. Then total up all those points for each side, the team with the most total points wins.

It is kind of like using goal differentials in soccer as a tiebreaker. It is possible that in tying, one team could have won all of their matches by a large margin, and the other team won by one point every time. Which team is better in that scenario?

I would say the team that dominated each individual match. It is possible that this method could still end up in a tie, but unlikely. If so, then perhaps you could do the same thing with only the singles matches, since that involves all players. Beyond that, a playoff would be needed, but it is highly unlikely that it goes that far.

Marcus Dunsworth
Dewey, Arizona

All 24 players get one 155-yard shot from the center of the 18th fairway. Closest to the pin wins.

Steve Forrest
Toledo, Ohio

Leave it the way it is. If you don't beat the team that holds the cup, then you are a loser, regardless of whether you are tied. Move on, I would say play better.

Wayne Smith
Georgetown, Texas

When there is a tie in a team event, giving the win to the previous winner feels, well, stupid and leaves half the fans flaccid. Playoff please.

Jeff McCrory
Atlanta, Georgia

How about designating three players per side to play six holes of stroke play. Three pairs on course. Lowest cumulative score wins. 

Jim Branchick
South Lyon, Michigan

The question as to how ties should be decided has already been established and has worked for decades. Ties go to who held the cup the previous go around.    After all the matches over three days, why decide on a putt or chip by one or two players just to jack up television ratings?  Why is there this constant thirst for change? It's not broke.

Larry Ashe
Chicago, Illinois

At the beginning of the matches the captains should each place a name in an envelope. The home team is allowed to set the order of play for holes in sudden death also in the same envelope. Example, play 15, 17, 10, etc.

Rod Liddle
Boca Raton, Florida

Simple. Play more golf.

Christopher Gates
Medina, Ohio

No major sport settles its biggest event of the year by playing to a tie. Everyone, including the players, wants a winner, and certainly the fans. I don’t like the responsibility of putting the Ryder Cup in two players' hands by having a one-on-one playoff. It’s a team event, so it’s a team playoff. How about this?

Twelve versus 12 in singles, the same matchups as the Sunday finals. After each player completes a one-hole match, you add up the wins, losses, and draws, and most likely, you won’t have a tie. If you do, repeat the process. It’s a team event, decided by the entire team. You could do it on the 18th hole if daylight isn’t an issue. That way, the fans in attendance get to see it to the finish. And it’s easy for TV. That’s drama until the finish and you have a real winner to decide the cup. 

Barry Duckworth 
Knoxville, Tennessee 

If the Ryder Cup (or Solheim Cup) competition ends in a tie, one member from each team (selected by a lottery draw) should play a number of holes (three to five) or simply play sudden death as a tiebreaker to determine a winner. 

Michael Rutledge 
Sarasota, Florida

Nominate a tiebreaker player who, in the event of a tie, will play a series of 3-hole playoffs until decided.

Dave Tracey
Toronto, Ontario

The Solheim should be left as is in honor of Karsten and Louise Solheim. And everybody should read "Karstens Way," an excellent biography of them and the history of their company.

Ryder Cup? If they really want to change it:
— Use a hockey or futbol type shootout.
— Take your best five golfers each side.
— Go to a par 3. Take turns or shoot all five of one team and then all five of the other. Measure distance to the hole.
— Cumulative team closest to the hole wins!
— A hole in one wins it immediately, sudden death, no "bottom of the inning last chance."

Fat chance they'll go for this type of tiebreaker, but, hey, the whole event is entertainment first and last, not death and taxes. This way would allow a huge crowd to see every shot of the tiebreaker and everybody — players, fans, officials, marshals — will have a jolly grand time hooting and hollering.

Donn Rutkoff
Oceanside, California

Why change it now? If someone possesses the Cup, make them beat you to take it away.

Bob Norris
Cincinnati, Ohio

All ties go to the current Cup holder. The reigning champion has a right to the title if they weren't beat. As a challenger, you must win outright to claim the title. You have not defeated the champion by merely tying them. Nice try, but you came up a half point shy of the title. 

Now take your clubs and excuses and go home. 

Robert Fish 
Sun Lakes, Arizona 

Just to add another layer of pressure on the players, tally the winning margin of matches — 3 up with 2 to play, etc. — for all three days as points for each winning team, making every match even more significant. Or because it would have to be close enough to matter, just do it for the final day of singles.

Jamie McWilliams
Trinity, Florida

The Solheim Cup was a pleasure to watch. Hope Ryder Cup is the same.

Think of those two tours as 1A and 1B.

Bill Bamber
Edmonton, Alberta

The current system of the Cup holder retaining the trophy in a tie is good by me. I see no reason to change something that is working perfectly fine. Last weekend's Solheim Cup tie in Spain has me looking that much more forward to the 2024 Solheim Cup at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Virginia. Can’t wait to next year.

Reid Farrill
Toronto, Ontario

At the beginning of the matches, each captain should place a name in an envelope. The home team is allowed to set the order of play for holes in sudden death — also in the same envelope (e.g., play 15, 17, 10, etc.).

Rod Liddle
Boca Raton, Florida

These are events that I think the current outcome is fair.  No good way to play a tie breaker. Still good for the game.
Larry Hone
Ft. Myers, Florida

I love the old President’s Cup format of having the team captains put the name of the player they want to use in a playoff into an envelope. If tied after the end of singles, those two go out and play a three-hole aggregate. If still tied, sudden death.

Tim Pittman
West End, North Carolina

Penalty shoot out!

Any solution is going to be deemed unfair to the losers, whoever that may be.

TV coverage would have to be extended ... carnage. Spectators converging on one hole ... more carnage. More people inside the ropes ... even more carnage.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

It's worked for years.

Rick Pillow
Exeter, England

The First Call invites reader comment. Write to editor Stuart Hall at Your name and city of residence is necessary to be considered for publication. If your comment is selected for publication, The First Call will contact you to verify the authenticity of the email and confirm your identity. We will not publish your email address. We reserve the right to edit for clarity and brevity.