The Ryder Cup is a match play event, with each match worth one point. The competition format predominantly used from 1987 to 1999 was as follows:
Day 1 (Friday) — 4 foursome (alternate shot) matches in a morning session and 4 fourball (better ball) matches in an afternoon session
Day 2 (Saturday) — 4 foursome matches in a morning session and 4 four-ball matches in an afternoon session
Day 3 (Sunday) — 12 singles matches
With a total of 28 points, 14½ points were required to win the Cup, and 14 points were required for the defending champion to retain the Cup. All matches were played to a maximum of 18 holes - matches that were level after 18 holes were deemed a draw with half a point going to each team.