The caddie who sparked Rory McIlroy bust-up at the Ryder Cup: How Brit golfer was left outraged by American caddie who ‘refused to get out of the Northern Irishman’s way as he tried to putt the ball’ – before fury boiled over into furious car park row
- The caddie’s behaviour sparked a furious row between team Europe and the US
American caddie Joe LaCava sparked outrage at the Ryder Cup on Saturday after refusing to move out of Rory McIlroy’s line of vision in a crucial putt, sparking a row which continued into the club’s car park and ended in McIlroy being bundled into a car.
McIlroy was annoyed that Patrick Cantlay’s caddie LaCava initially didn’t move from his eyeline, instead waving his cap over his head in celebration of Cantlay’s birdie on the last.
The Northern Irishman had reportedly asked LaCava ‘politely’ to move out the way, yet the caddie continued to ignore the request for some time.
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.
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.
Rory McIlroy launched into a livid rant at someone while leaving Marco Simone Saturday
Ahead of the row, US player Cantlay converted a 43ft putt, with McIlroy still waiting to take his own shot.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
McIlroy was swiftly bundled into a car by teammate Shane Lowry ahead of the final day of play on Sunday
The row began on the 18th green but continued up the tunnel and in the club’s car park
The Northern Irishman had argued with Patrick Cantlay’s caddie Joe LaCava after he initially did not move out of the golfer’s eyeline
The Americans waved their caps – a nod to European fans’ taunting over the hat controversy
McIlroy’s car park outburst comes after a tense exchange with LaCava on the final hole
‘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.’
READ MORE: Rory McIlroy has to be held back and bundled into his car by Shane Lowry in furious scenes at the Ryder Cup… as he appears to scream ‘that is a f***ing disgrace’ at caddie Joe LaCava after sportsmanship row on the 18th green
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.
Following the 18th-green altercation, McIlroy appeared to address the confrontation, claiming it would only spur on Europe in the Sunday singles.
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
Who is playing who on the final day of the Ryder Cup?
Sunday’s matches will take place as follows (timings are approximate)
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
‘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.’
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 will tee off on Sunday at 11.35am, with each of the matches beginning around 12 minutes after the previous one.
With McIlroy scheduled to go out fourth, he is expected to begin play at around 12.23am UK time.
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.
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.
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.
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