Rory McIlroy has explained the context behind his confrontation with Joe LaCava, Patrick Cantlay’s caddie, at this year’s Ryder Cup.
McIlroy was angered by LaCava’s celebrations as the Northern Irishman lined up a putt at the end of a match on the Saturday evening of the tournament. McIlroy and Matt Fitzpatrick lost by a hole against Cantlay and Wyndham Clark, although Europe went on to record a convincing 16 ½-11 ½ victory to claim the trophy.
“Here’s what angered me,” McIlroy told the Irish Independent on Monday. “My relationship with Cantlay is average at best. We don’t have a ton in common and see the world quite differently.
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“But when I saw he was getting stick on the 17th and 18th greens, I tried to quiet the crowd for him. And I don’t think [Fitzpatrick] and I were afforded the same opportunity to try and hole those putts to halve the match. I shook Joe’s hand, and Patrick’s hand. Those three putts he made on 16, 17 and 18 were fantastic, and under that pressure, to give your team a glimmer of hope going into Sunday was big balls. So all respect to him.
“There was a bit of argy-bargy at the back of the 18th green with Fred Couples and Thomas Bjørn – and that’s fine – but as I’m walking back to the locker room I can feel this red mist coming over me. ‘No! That wasn’t right.’”
LaCava has previously caddied for Tiger Woods and McIlroy said the former world No 1 had tried to clear the air between the two.
“There was also three texts and two missed calls from Tiger, because they [Woods and LaCava] are obviously still close,” McIlroy said. “I sent him a quick message: ‘It will be fine – long day – just want to go to bed.’”
McIlroy said he also met with LaCava after the tournament ended but implied the meeting did not go well. “LaCava used to be a nice guy when he was caddying for Tiger and now he’s caddying for that dick [Cantlay]. He’s turned into an arse,” McIlroy said.
McIlroy confronted another USA caddie, Jim “Bones” Mackay, on the same night as LaCava, leading Justin Rose to joke that Europe’s players had labelled their teammate “Rocky McIlroy”. In his interview with the Irish Independent, McIlroy expressed regret over the incident with Mackay.
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“He’s coming over to try and defuse the situation but he’s wearing an American top, and I know he’s friends with Joe, and I just tripped,” McIlroy said. “Complete rage. I felt bad about it afterwards because Bones’s wife was standing beside him, and I used a lot of swear words,” he said. “So not my finest moment. Then Shane [Lowry] bundled me into the car.”
McIlroy has said he used the confrontations with the Americans as fuel to win his singles match the following day. “I let it fuel the fire … and it focused me and I was able to go out there and get my point,” he said shortly after Europe completed their victory last month.