Rory McIlroy addressed his heated Ryder Cup bust-up with Patrick Cantlay’s caddie, Joe LaCava, hinting that Tiger Woods attempted to play the role of peacemaker in the aftermath of the spat.
In an interview with the Irish Independent, McIlroy, 34, explained the context behind the drama.
“Here’s what angered me,” McIlroy said. “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 quiet the crowd for him. And I don’t think Fitz [Matt Fitzpatrick, McIlroy’s partner] 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 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.'”
McIlroy told the Irish Independent that he met with LaCava face-to-face on the evening after Europe’s victory — something he had previously denied — though he said he thought the caddie’s personality has changed.
“LaCava used to be a nice guy when he was caddying for Tiger [Woods] and now he’s caddying for that d— [Cantlay]. He’s turned into an a–,” McIlroy said.
The Northern Irishman said Woods attempted to call him after the incident.
“There was also three texts and two missed calls from Tiger, because they’re [Woods and LaCava] obviously still close,” McIlroy said.
“I sent him a quick message: ‘It will be fine — long day — just want to go to bed.'”
McIlroy went on to express his regret over his shouting match with Justin Thomas’ caddie, Jim “Bones” Mackay, in the parking lot at Marco Simone, images of which were shared widely on social media.
“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’ wife was standing beside him, and I used a lot of swear words. So not my finest moment. Then Shane [Lowry] bundled me into the car.”
McIlroy’s fifth Race to Dubai title was confirmed by Max Homa’s win at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa and meant he couldn’t be overtaken in the standings. He will collect the trophy at the end of this weekend’s DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.