McIlroy claims feud with caddie helped 'fuel' him in Ryder Cup win

Ryder Cup 2023: Emotional Rory McIlroy says his furious row with Patrick Cantlay’s caddie ‘lit the fire under our bellies’ after he beat Sam Burns to edge Europe closer to victory

  • Rory McIlroy has reflected on the feud between himself and caddy Joe LaCava
  •  The caddie’s behaviour sparked a furious row between team Europe and the US
  • LIVE: Follow Mail Sport’s blog covering all the 2023 Ryder Cup action 

Rory McIlroy has claimed that his row with caddie Joe LaCava ‘lit the fire under our bellies’ after his win for Team Europe in the singles matches on Sunday.

On Saturday, McIlroy was annoyed that Patrick Cantlay’s caddie LaCava – who has 36 years of caddying experience – initially didn’t move out of the way, instead continuing to wave his cap over his head in celebration of Cantlay’s birdie on the last. 

The Northern Irishman had reportedly asked LaCava, thought to be 68, ‘politely’ to move out the way, yet the caddie continued to ignore the request for some time.

Despite the controversy a day prior, McIlroy secured a 4 & 3 victory over USA’s Sam Burns and took a moment to reflect on the impact of the saga during the competition. 

‘Yeah I needed that to fuel me today and not let it take away from a great week. I used it to my advantage and came out here with a different level of focus and a different level of determination. I think it gave the whole team – it lit a fire under our bellies a little bit,’ McIlroy explained.

Rory McIlroy celebrates after winning his singles match against Sam Burns on Sunday

The Norther Irishman painted an emotional figure as he spoke to interviewers afterwards, and reflected on his recent feud with caddie Joe LaCava

The Irishman had to pause his interview midway through after getting overcome with emotion

The Northern Irishman had argued with Patrick Cantlay’s caddie Joe LaCava after he initially did not move out of the golfer’s eyeline

‘I just wanted to come out and win another point for Europe. I’m… [wells up]. Ever since Whistling Straits i was so disappointed in my performance there and to come here and gets four points for the team, it means a lot for me to get it done.

‘It’s a great bounce back after what we did at Whistling Straits. It’s a young team and I think it’s a team that’ll be around for a long time and the support we’ve had has been unbelievable. 

‘It’s been a great week for me personally but I need to go and follow the boys in here and get them in the house here.

‘I’m confident we played the back nine pretty well this week. I’ve full confidence in the boys to get the job done here’.

The Northern Irishman was visibly emotional as he reflected on his win, which puts Team Europe within 1½ points of the win. 

Aside from the feud with LaCava, it’s been an impressive weak for McIlroy – who has won all four of his matches as Europe put on a dominant display in Rome. 

The European team were furious with LaCava after he celebrated in front of McIlroy as he prepared for a crucial putt to save the final match on Saturday.

The 68-year-old caddie took of his cap and waved it in the air when Cantlay made a decisive putt on 18 in the crucial last four-ball match.

McIlroy was overcome with emotion as he pumped his fists in the air after securing victory

The Northern Irishman was also quick to console rival Sam Burns after the event

McIlroy launched into a livid rant at someone while leaving Marco Simone Saturday 

However, LaCava’s actions were regarded as poor sportsmanship as the Northern Irish golfer still had a putt to tie the match. 

Shane Lowry and Justin Rose were furious with LaCava and decided to confront the experienced caddie at the back of the 18th green.

Tensions then spilled over onto the car park with McIlroy heard shouting ‘this can’t happen, this can’t happen – it’s a f*****g disgrace’ at the caddie. 

As a result, a security guard was forced to step in and calm things down before teammate Lowry guided McIlroy to a waiting BMW 4×4. 

McIlroy appeared to address the situation on Saturday, saying: ‘Matt and I played well. Obviously they had a great finish and Patrick made three great putts at the end to seal the deal, so hats off to them, 

‘They played a great match, and… a few scenes there on 18 and just fuel for the fire tomorrow.’

The European team were furious with LaCava after he celebrated in front of McIlroy as he prepared for a crucial putt to save the final match on Saturday

Meanwhile, Luke Donald said: ‘I’ll talk with Rory when I get back. I didn’t see the incident (on the car park). I saw the one on 18. 

‘I think we always — as I said in my speech, we always try and play with passion, play with energy, but play with respect. That will certainly be my message to the players.’

On the other hand, Zach Johnson defended LaCava. ‘I saw passion and all of what’s great in the Ryder Cup come out,’ he said. 

‘And to my knowledge, based on what I was told, that was diffused after the match, and so I’m told it’s all good.’

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