The 32nd Ryder Cup Matches were held at the Valderrama Golf Club in Sotogrande, Spain, marking the first time the event was contested in continental Europe.The European team won the competition by a margin of 14½ to 13½ and retained the Cup.
The Europeans held a 10½–5½ lead heading into the final day, and the Americans mounted a comeback by winning the singles matches 8–4 but fell just short. Colin Montgomerie halved the final match with Scott Hoch (conceding a 15-foot par putt on the final hole) to seal the outright victory for the Europeans.
The Ryder Cup is a match play event, with each match worth one point. The competition format used in 1997 was as follows:
Day 1 (Friday) — 4 fourball (better ball) matches in a morning session and 4 foursome (alternate shot) matches in an afternoon session
Day 2 (Saturday) — 4 fourball matches in a morning session and 4 foursome 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.