‘We wanted to make it hurt for them’ – Rory McIlroy says feud with US caddie drove Europe to Ryder Cup win
October 1, 2023
The Holywood star played a stellar role for captain Luke Donald, beating Sam Burns 3&1 in eight-under-par to win four points from five and consign that controversial fourball loss to Patrick Cantlay and Wyndham Clark on Saturday night to history.
“I don’t think it just motivated me,” the world No 2 told BBC Northern Ireland at the back of the 18th following Europe’s 16.5-11.5 win when asked about the row with LaCava and the heated discussion with Jim Mackay in the car park later.
“I think it motivated the entire team. We felt like we were disrespected on that last green. And we wanted to go out and honestly make it hurt for them. That’s what we wanted to do.”
LaCava reportedly reached out to McIlroy’s team on Saturday night to set up a clear the air chat and McIlroy said he would mend bridges.
“Yeah, absolutely,” he said. “Emotions are high. And there’s a lot of tension there. You know, it was hard.
“I felt like I’m doing the right thing, trying to quieten the crowd for Patrick’s putts on 17 and 18 last night, and then to not be afforded the same opportunity on the last green whenever I was hitting my putt was pretty tough.
“We all get caught up in the moment and things happen and I am just glad we got the victory.”
As for Europe’s five-point win, he felt it flattered them but he was thrilled to get the job done after that 19-9 defeat at Whistling Straits two years ago.
“Incredible,” he said. “I’m just so proud of all boys. I mean, it was looking hairy for a little bit. But how Tommy pulled it out, how Shane fought his way back, how Bobby played. It was always going to be that way.
“The Americans are so strong when they go out in singles. We knew it was going to come down to the wire and the scoreline probably flatters us a little bit considering how tight it was today but absolutely incredible.”
He was proud to win two foursomes, a fourball and his singles match and described his seventh appearance as his best Ryder Cup performance in what he considers the best team event in golf.
“Yeah, look, it’s been my best Ryder performance today and I needed it,” he said, conscious that he won just one point two years ago.
“I knew I needed one coming in because quite frankly, my performance at Whistling Straits isn’t what I expect of myself.
“It’s not what other people expect of me.
“I felt I let my teammates down that week, I can leave here with my head held high. And I feel like I’ve done everything I can for the European team.
“I came in here, obviously, you know, playing much better than I was playing before the ’21 Ryder Cup and I just needed to go out there and play my game.
“I had two great partners in Tommy and Fitz over the first couple of days. Fitz’s start on Friday afternoon in the fourballs sort of got us off to a huge lead and we coasted in from there so I didn’t really have to do much. Not much.
“But yeah, great partners, great teammates, great captain. Luke has been absolutely incredible.
“All the vices and all the backroom stuff. It really is a team effort. It’s not just the 12 guys who hit the shots, it’s dozens and dozens of people behind the scenes that helped the European team win. We’re all going to celebrate.”
He’s still waiting to win that fifth Major and admitted the Ryder Cup prepares a player for anything.
“It’s the best tournament in golf,” he said. “There’s no other place that we play that can replicate half of what that is.
“I mean, there’s no other tournament in the world where Harry tries to get me to eat on the course and I’m like, ‘No, I can’t’ because I’m too nervous.
“Nowhere else does that happen. Playing out there and under those conditions and in that atmosphere, it makes a final round of a major feel like a walk in the park.”
However, he admitted the majors will always be the majors.
“They’re just a little bit different,” he said. “I still want to accomplish a tonne as an individual, but these Ryder Cup wins are so, so special.”