As Shane Lowry riled up his Ryder Cup teammates in the European locker room that Saturday night in Rome, Rory McIlroy found himself getting angrier and angrier – to the point where he had to be talked out of going straight to the opposing locker room in a rash attempt to sort things out.
In a recent interview with The Irish Independent, McIlroy and Lowry offered more detail into the events surrounding McIlroy’s dustup with Patrick Cantlay’s caddie, Joe LaCava.
“Here’s what angered me,” McIlroy explained during his sit-down with Paul Kimmage. “My relationship with Cantlay is average at best. We don’t have a ton in common and see the world quite differently. But when I saw he was getting stick on the 17th and 18th greens I tried to quieten the crowd for him. And I don’t think [Matt] Fitz[patrick] and I were afforded the same opportunity to try and hole those putts to halve the match. I hit a decent putt, but I under-read it basically, and Fitz hit a good putt but left it short, right in the jaws. … 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 Bjorn — 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.’”
After Lowry had to separate McIlroy and Justin Thomas’ caddie, Bones Mackay, in Marco Simone’s valet line, McIlroy ran into Brooks Koepka’s caddie, Ricky Elliott, and instructor, Claude Harmon III.
“We get to the hotel, and as you come into the lobby we go left to our wing of the hotel, and the Americans go right to their wing,” McIlroy said. “So, we’re going left and someone is shouting at me, ‘Rory! Rory!’, and I look back and it’s Ricky Elliott and Claude Harmon. And they’re trying to defuse the situation, but I start having a go at them: ‘Joe LaCava used to be a nice guy when he was caddying for Tiger, and now he’s caddying for that d*ck he’s turned into a …’ I still wasn’t in a great headspace.”
McIlroy says he spent eight minutes after that in a 6-degree plunge pool, twice as much as Lowry, before later joining his European teammates in their team room, where the topic of conversation is McIlroy’s caught-on-TV spats with LaCava and Mackay.
“Then [European captain] Luke [Donald] comes in and sits down and doesn’t acknowledge anyone. And he looks at me and I’m thinking, ‘I could be in trouble here,’ but he goes, ‘Rory! I f—ing loved that!’ And all the boys started banging the table. It was brilliant. It had been a really deflating finish, but it galvanized the team.”
Upon returning to his hotel room on Saturday night, McIlroy was greeted by a text from LaCava: Hey Rory, would love to meet up in the morning to clear the air.
McIlroy ignored it.
There were also three texts and two missed calls from LaCava’s old boss, Tiger Woods.
Said McIlroy: “I sent him a quick message: It will be fine … long day … just want to go to bed.”
For the full interview, click here.