Rory McIlroy refused to acknowledge the ‘cheating caddie’ who sparked a major row at the Ryder Cup on Saturday after standing in his eyeline waving his cap ahead of a crucial putt as he headed out onto the green today.
The final day of the tournament sees the US team embroiled in a scandal amid cheating allegations after the row – which continued into the club’s car park late last night – and an incident in which a player appeared to ‘kick’ his ball.
The incident involved Patrick Cantlay’s caddie LaCava – who has 36 years of caddying experience – and an exuberant celebration which saw him refuse to move out the way for some time, before launching into an angry tirade at the opposition player.
After US players turned European fans’ taunting over Cantlay not wearing a hat into their own celebration, some have ditched their own caps on the final day of singles matches in a ‘show of solidarity’.
Europe need just four points from the final day’s 12 singles matches to complete their revenge mission in Rome and regain the Ryder Cup.
Scottie Scheffler of team USA hit the first shot of the day ahead of Europe’s Jon Rahm as Europe took an early lead – going ahead in five matches after the final pair teed off while drawing two. America held a lead in the other five – but must win 8.5 points to retain the cup.
Rory McIlroy (left, in blue) walked past Patrick Cantlay and his caddie Joe LaCava without so much as a glance in their direction on Sunday ahead of tee off
Team Europe’s Rory McIlroy reacts after a missed putt on the 2nd green – but soon went one hole up against opponent Sam Burns
The Americans waved their caps – a nod to European fans’ taunting over the hat controversy
Following the 18th-green altercation, McIlroy appeared to address the confrontation, claiming it would only spur on Europe in the Sunday singles.
‘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,’ said McIlroy, who had won his previous three matches in Rome.
‘They played a great match, and… a few scenes there on 18 and just fuel for the fire tomorrow.’
But heading out to warm up on Sunday, he walked straight past the pair without so much as a glance in their direction.
Team captain Donald told Sky Sports the row last night has had ‘no effect’ upon the mood of the players, adding he expects to see ‘a lot of blue early’.
‘We’re a great bunch, very unified. We know what the mission is,’ he added.
Europe looks set to take a huge win over the Americans, as no side has come from five back to win in the tournament’s 96-year history.
Play teed off on Sunday at 11.35am CET, with each of the matches beginning around 12 minutes after the previous one.
Crowds were extremely loud ahead of tee off in Rome, with chants from both sets of fans. But it was the Europeans who were making themselves heard with Cantlay being roundly jeered after LaCava overstepped the mark last night.
McIlroy was seen appearing calm but serious as he walked out onto the green to warm up on Sunday
Patrick Cantlay (right) and caddie Joe LaCava (left) walk up the first hole on Sunday
Musician Niall Horan poses for a photo on the first tee at the Ryder Cup on Sunday
Monaco’s Prince Albert II (C) walks from the 2nd green during the singles matches on the final day of play in the 44th Ryder Cup
As well as golf pros and players’ families, singer Niall Horan was also seen cheering on team Europe.
After around an hour of play Europe was leading in all but one matches, with McIlroy among those to have reset to take the lead early on Sunday.
He was soon up two holes alongside teammate Viktor Hovland. The only American ahead after six players had begun was Cantlay, who was one up on Englishman Justin Rose.
Hovland’s opponent Collin Morikawa had a nightmare start to the final day, offering his Norwegian rival a chance to go three up on just the sixth hole – which he quickly took.
McIlroy followed him to take an equally commanding lead by the seventh hole of the 18-hole course.
Joe LaCava makes notes as he observes Cantlay, who took an early lead in his final day match
The Northern Irishman had argued with Patrick Cantlay’s caddie Joe LaCava after he initially did not move out of the golfer’s eyeline
Rory McIlroy launched into a livid rant at someone while leaving Marco Simone Saturday
A rout had appeared to be on the cards after another blistering morning left the hosts with a commanding scoreline of 9.5-2.5. Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Aberg delivered the biggest winning margin (9&7) in tournament history to leave the US staring obliteration in the face, and left a defeated Scottie Scheffler dabbing at his eyes.
Patrick Cantlay targeted by fans at Ryder Cup
Patrick Cantlay is still being targeted by fans at the Ryder Cup following a report that he wants to be paid to play in golf’s biggest team event.
‘Money, money, money’ and ‘Cheat’ were some of the shouts heard from the massive grandstand surrounding the 1st tee at Marco Simone before Cantlay’s singles match against Justin Rose on Sunday.
Cantlay responded by making a 25-foot putt for a birdie on the par-4 2nd to go 1 up over Rose.
The report alleged that Cantlay is not wearing a U.S. team cap as a form of protest. Cantlay said on Saturday that there’s no truth to the report and simply the hat isn’t a good fit for him.
There was also some controversy over the way Cantlay’s caddie, Joe LaCava, celebrated a win in Saturday’s fourballs.
‘Stay out of his line, Joe,’ was also heard from the gallery.
Europe head into the final day needing four points to regain the trophy with a lead of 10.5-5.5 following a late US comeback but a rollercoaster day of golf was overshadowed by extraordinary scenes as the sun set.
After the round of four yesterday, in which players headed out two by two, the singles take place today with each player having their own tee off against one of the opposing team.
Donald unsurprisingly sent out his strongest players early in the singles, with Jon Rahm first out against Scottie Scheffler, Viktor Hovland taking on Collin Morikawa and Justin Rose drawn against Cantlay in match three.
McIlroy, who had gone out first in the last three Ryder Cups, was fourth in the line-up against Sam Burns.
At the last Ryder Cup in Wisconsin in 2021, the US took a record-breaking win over the Europeans at 19-9.
The Americans have considerable work to do if they want to break 30 years of losing when playing outside of their country.
Former European captain Paul McGinley believes the United States need to eclipse the ‘Miracle at Medinah’ to retain the Ryder Cup in Rome.
Europe famously recovered from 10-6 down heading into the singles in 2012 to pull off an unlikely victory, but Zach Johnson’s side trail by five points at Marco Simone despite a spirited fightback on Saturday afternoon.
‘This will be unbelievable if America come anywhere close,’ McGinley, who led Europe to victory at Gleneagles in 2014, told Sky Sports.
‘Miracles do happen and this will be bigger than the Miracle at Medinah if America come back from here. Yes they have momentum, but Europe are also stoked up.’
The first match is expected to be compelling – Scottie Scheffler against Jon Rahm.
Not only have they traded places as No. 1 in the world this year, this is a rematch from two years ago at Whistling Straits. Scheffler birdied the opening four holes in a 4-and-3 victory.
Scheffler is the current No. 1 in the world. The last No. 1 player to lose in singles was Rahm two years ago.
LaCava appeared calm and collected as he headed out onto the course on Sunday morning
Team USA’s Patrick Cantlay and his caddie, Joe LaCava walk across the chipping green ahead of tee off
Team USA fans enjoy play at the final day of the Ruder Cup on Sunday
McIlroy’s car park outburst comes after a tense exchange with LaCava on the final hole
McIlroy was swiftly bundled into a car by teammate Shane Lowry ahead of the final day of play on Sunday
The caddie (left) took a long time to move out of the way
The row began on the 18th green but continued up the tunnel and in the club’s car park
The Ryder Cup descended into a row over sportsmanship last night after McIlroy became annoyed that Cantlay’s caddie LaCava 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.
Who is playing who on the final day of the Ryder Cup?
Sunday’s matches will take place as follows (timings are approximate and are in CET)
11:35 Jon RAHM v Scottie SCHEFFLER
11:47 Viktor HOVLAND v Collin MORIKAWA
11:59 Justin ROSE v Patrick CANTLAY
12:11 Rory MCILROY v Sam BURNS
12:23 Matt FITZPATRICK v Max HOMA
12:35 Tyrrell HATTON v Brian HARMAN
12:47 Ludvig ÅBERG v Brooks KOEPKA
12:59 Sepp STRAKA v Justin THOMAS
13:11 Nicolai HØJGAARD v Xander SCHAUFFELE
13:23 Shane LOWRY v Jordan SPIETH
13:35 Tommy FLEETWOOD v Rickie FOWLER
13:47 Robert MACINTYRE v Wyndham CLARK
Captains: Europe is led by Luke Donald, while the US is headed up by Zach Johnson
The Northern Irishman had reportedly asked LaCava, thought to be 68, ‘politely’ to move, yet the caddie continued to ignore the request for some time.
Despite the row continuing into the car park and ending when McIlroy was bundled into a car by a teammate, LaCava appeared calm and collected as he accompanied Patrick back out onto the course on Sunday.
It came ahead of the final day of the Cup on Sunday, with Luke Donald’s European side now having plenty of extra motivation after the angry scenes on the 18th green, which continued outside the clubhouse at Marco Simone.
Caddie Joe LaCava, who used to work alongside Tiger Woods, began his career in 1987 and saw Fred Couples take 12 PGA Tour victories. He is now one of the most well-known caddies in the world.
Now accompanying Cantlay, sports pundits criticised the experienced caddie after the row on the 18th green, which saw LaCava speaking in an irate manner to McIlroy after he was asked to move out of his way.
The European golfer had had a superb outing at the Cup this year, and was on the verge of winning his fourth successive point in an impressive display which helped set up the team to dominate play on Saturday.
After Cantlay converted his putt, the US team held exuberant celebrations, including waving their hats.
The waving of hats towards Cantlay has been a theme at this year’s Ryder Cup, initially said to be due to him refusing to wear a cap in protest at not being paid for the tournament. He has since denied this is the case.
McIlroy and team-mate Matt Fitzpatrick still had birdie putts of their own to halve the hole and the match, but neither was able to convert.
LaCava appeared to linger on the green in front of McIlroy while waving his hat, instead of moving out of the way once his player had taken the shot. Footage of the incident then showed him making animated hand gestures and appearing to shout at the European.
Both Lowry and Justin Rose, who had gathered to watch, also spoke to LaCava and – when subsequently McIlroy and Fitzpatrick missed their shots – made their way onto the green to reinforce the point as the row continued up the tunnel to the clubhouse.
Members of Team Europe took exception to LaCava’s celebrations and lack of etiquette
McIlroy will take to the green again on Sunday, heading out fourth on the final day of play
Team captain Donald said: ‘I talked to Rory. He politely asked Joe to move aside. He was in his line of vision.
‘He stood there and didn’t move for a while and continued to wave the hat, so I think Rory was upset about that.
‘The Ryder Cup is always passionate. We’ve seen that many times over the past. I will address all 12 of my guys. I’ll give them the right messaging and they will be ready to play.’
He added: ‘We’re all competitors. We all want to win but we want to do it in the right way.
‘From what Rory told me, he did ask Joe to move. He took a long time to move. It was a little off-putting because he still had to putt. So Rory got upset and I understand that.’
Video footage of the incident showed LaCava appearing to continue loitering around McIlroy as he made large hand gestures and shouted across to other team members.
The row continued into the carpark, where McIlroy was seen jabbing fingers and making his feelings clear towards the Americans over what many have called unsportsman-like behaviour from LaCava.
In astonishing scenes a raging McIlroy could be heard shouting ‘This can’t happen, this can’t happen – it’s a f*****g disgrace,’ with a security guard forced to step in.
As feelings appeared to become increasingly heightened, McIlroy’s teammate Shane Lowry pulled the player back and bundled him into a car.
It had been reported that Cantlay was refusing to wear a cap in protest of players not being paid to play the Ryder Cup, which garnered mocking from the European fans who waved their caps at him, sang and chanted at him in jest.
Cantlay denied the report and claimed he did not wear a hat, including for the team photo, because it ‘just doesn’t fit’.
But the Americans, including the wives and caddies, flipped the Europeans’ taunting back on them with their celebration of Cantlay’s birdie, including LaCava’s joy, which sparked the heated scenes on 18.
On Sunday all American players are expected to ditch their hats in a show of solidarity.
Cantlay was asked about the row after the match but gave little information.
‘He is the best,’ he said of LaCava. ‘That is all there is to say.’
Many on social media disagreed, however, with fans from across the world branding the incident as ’embarassing’ and a ‘bad misjudgment’ by LaCava.
It wasn’t the only row to erupt from Saturday’s play, as US player Justin Thomas appeared to kick his own ball – and then not say anything about it.
The American’s ball had landed in long grass on the sixth hole, but as he attempted to clear it back onto the green, his shot only managed to move it a couple of feet to the right.
As it moved, Thomas appeared to nudge it accidentally with his foot in a moment which fans were quick to notice and comment on online.
There is no penalty if a player accidentally kicks the ball while it is still in motion – but it is expected that they inform the referee.
The 30-year-old former World Number One was captured on camera alongside partner Jordan Spieth.
Thomas tried to smash it out of the grasses with his club but mis-hits the ball sending it sideways before he appears to step on it, knocking it a bit further away.
Rules state that players can be penalised if they strike the ball with their body, although this is waived if the ball is still moving and it was an accident.
It is not clear if Thomas alerted a referee to the bungle, but so far the tournament has already been particularly bad-tempered.