Despite a furious charge from the American team on Sunday, Europe held on to claim a comfortable Ryder Cup victory at Marco Simone.
And it didn’t end with shouting matches that broke out that evening between LaCava and the European team on the 18th green at the end of McIlroy and Matt Fitzpatrick’s match against Cantlay and Wyndham Clark.
Following a European team meeting featuring an impassioned speech by Shane Lowry later that night, McIlroy was videotaped nearly getting into a fight in the parking lot. The four-time major winner was seen yelling and gesticulating at Justin Thomas’ caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay before Lowry forced him into their courtesy car.
After sealing their victory Sunday evening, the entire European team sat down for their winner’s press conference, and McIlroy spoke at length about the incident for the first time.
“We felt like it was disrespectful. And it wasn’t just disrespectful to Fitz and I. It was disrespectful for the whole team,” McIlroy said about LaCava’s behavior on Saturday.
He then qualified those comments, admitting that the Ryder Cup is a unique event that brings out “banter” from fans on both sides of the Atlantic.
“I get that we get the banter when we go over to the States and play and the same happens here,” McIlroy said. “It’s just the way it is. It’s the way the Ryder Cup goes. And you have to have thick skin. That’s just the way it is.”
As for the much-talked-about parking lot spat, McIlroy also provided more details, explaining that his ire was not directed toward Bones but at LaCava, who wasn’t present at the time.
“[Bones] was just the first American I saw after I got out of the locker room, so he was the one who took the brunt of it,” McIlroy said to laughs. “He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I texted Bones this morning and apologized for that.”
“I was hot coming out of that yesterday. I was pretty angry. I didn’t agree with what happened on 18, but I think I let it fuel the fire today, and it focused me and I was able to go out there and get my point.”
And a crucial point at that, one of the primary early safeguards against a late American comeback attempt on Sunday that eventually fizzled out.
In all, McIlroy compiled an impressive 4-1 individual record this week in Rome, leading the Europeans to a victorious final score of 16.5-11.5.