Tiger intervention? Patrick Cantlay slam? 6 takeaways from revealing Rory McIlroy story

Rory McIlroy, Joe LaCava

Rory McIlroy, left, and Joe LaCava on the second day of this year's Ryder Cup.

Getty Images

Rory McIlroy says he didn’t argue just on the 18th green and the parking lot at the Ryder Cup. Things spilled over into a hotel, where he called Patrick Cantlay a “d**k.”

He also says that Tiger Woods repeatedly tried to get in touch with him. To that, McIlroy said he texted him just 12 words. 

“‘It will be fine … long day … just want to go to bed.'”

The revelations come via a lengthy interview with the Irish Independent’s Paul Kimmage published Sunday. Kimmage has talked previously with McIlroy in such fashion, and in the latest story, he also interviewed Shane Lowry, who was also heavily involved in the skirmishes that embroiled last month’s Ryder Cup. 

It’s here, then, where you should click over here to give the full 5,500-plus word story a read (and that’s just part one; next week, a follow-up is coming). Go, go, go. We’ll wait.

When you’re done, come back and we’ll help you digest it all with six takeaways, written in chronological order.    

1. What angered McIlroy

To quickly catch you up on what has previously been reported:

— Late last month, at the Ryder Cup at Marco Simone, fans had been waving hats at Cantlay, who wasn’t wearing one during play, and the reasons for not are dependent on whom you ask. (Did he want to get paid for playing at the biennial event? Did he not want to get a tan line for his upcoming wedding? We may never know for sure.) Then, on the second day of the event, in the afternoon, the American team of Cantlay and partner Wyndham Clark played McIlroy and Matt Fitzpatrick of Europe. And Cantlay dropped a lengthy putt on the 18th.

— Then, LaCava, Cantlay’s caddie, started waving his hat. He got close to McIlroy, who had yet to putt. Then there were words. Then McIlroy and Fitzpatrick missed putts, and the American duo won. Then there were more words. 

Rory McIlroy and European captain Luke Donald walk and talk during the 2023 Ryder Cup in Rome
‘Joe overstepped’: Ryder Cup captain spills on Rory McIlroy-Joe LaCava dispute
By: Kevin Cunningham

— Then McIlroy got into a shouting match in the parking lot with Jim “Bones” Mackay, the caddie for American Justin Thomas. 

— Then that ignited McIlroy. On the final day of the event, McIlroy defeated Sam Burns, and the Europeans won the Cup. Then McIlroy talked about it all. He said LaCava’s actions on the green were disrespectful. Then everyone else talked about it. 

In the interview with Kimmage, McIlroy gave his side of the 18th green. 

He also revealed what angered him to start.

“My relationship with Cantlay is average at best,” McIlroy told Kimmage. “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 quieten the crowd for him. And I don’t think Fitz 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,” McIlroy added. “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 ba**s. 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.’”

2. Lowry’s Saturday speech 

Soon after, McIlroy, Lowry and the Europeans reached their team base. In the interview with Kimmage, Lowry and McIlroy revealed that Lowry “started roaring and shouting.”

lucas glover watches a shot
‘It broke my heart’: Major champ fuels speculation of ‘splintered’ U.S. Ryder Cup team
By: Josh Berhow

Is that surprising? No. These things happen, especially in Ryder Cups. But we love to hear stories of fire. 

Said Lowry to Kimmage: “I was fuming. Fuming. Completely lost the plot. To be honest, I don’t want to talk about it, because nobody has talked about it.”

Said McIlroy: “I think Shane has spent a lot of time around Peter O’Mahony and some of those Irish rugby boys, because he went on a rant in the locker room that was just unbelievable.”

Said Lowry: “It just came out of me. I can’t even remember what I said — a halftime in the dressing room kind of thing: ‘We’re five points clear. … We’re in the driving seat. … Do what we have to do tomorrow and it’s game over.’ I talked about not just wanting to beat them, but to annihilate them. I wanted to get one back for Paddy [Pádraig Harrington] and beat them by more than they beat us at Whistling Straits. I think it went down pretty well.”

Said McIlroy: “Everyone loved it, he was unreal, but as he was talking, I was getting more and more riled up: ‘That was wrong. I was wronged.’ And as we’re getting up to leave, I’m like, ‘I’m going into their locker room now to sort this out.’ And Shane was like, ‘No, Rory. Bad idea.’”

3. Why McIlroy went after Mackay

So why did Mackay, generally regarded as one of the nicer people in golf, get heat from McIlroy? It had been curious. 

Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy shared a moment at the Ryder Cup.
Controversy rattled this Ryder Cup. But these 5 little things mattered more
By: Dylan Dethier

In the interview with Kimmage, McIlroy said Mackay was trying to settle things — “but he’s wearing an American top, and I know he’s friends with Joe, and I just tripped. 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 bundled me into the car.”

Notably, Lowry told Kimmage that they didn’t know a camera had caught the incident — and that they watched it on the car ride. 

4. There was another argument 

Mackay wasn’t the only member of the American contingent that McIlroy got into it with. 

In the interview with Kimmage, McIlroy said Ricky Elliott, Brooks Koepka’s caddie, and Claude Harmon III, Koepka’s swing coach, tried to calm him. No luck. 

“But I start having a go at them,“ McIlroy said told Kimmage. 

What did McIlroy say?

“‘Joe LaCava used to be a nice guy when he was caddying for Tiger, and now he’s caddying for that d**k, he’s turned into a …’ I still wasn’t in a great headspace.”

Said Lowry: “So I grabbed him: ‘Right! Plunge pool! We’ll go down and chill out.’”

5. Luke Donald … loved it?

So how did Luke Donald, generally regarded as one of the calmer people in golf, feel about it all?

This is good. 

In the interview with Kimmage, McIlroy said the European captain walked into the team locker room late, sat down and was quiet. He then looked over at McIlroy. 

team europe ryder cup
Europe’s blowout Ryder Cup victory? It was two years in the making
By: Sean Zak

“And I’m thinking, ‘I could be in trouble here,’” McIlroy told Kimmage. “But he goes, ‘Rory! I f**king loved that!” And all the boys started banging the table. It was brilliant. It had been a really deflating finish, but it galvanized the team.”

Said Lowry: “Jon Rahm said to me: ‘Rory is some teammate, isn’t he? He’s the best.’” 

6. Tiger Woods tried to get involved

At that point, McIlroy said he went to his room. In the interview with Kimmage, McIlroy said he had gotten a text from LaCava, but he didn’t reply. 

There were other messages, though. 

Woods, whom LaCava once caddied for, had reached out. Multiple times. 

“There was also three texts and two missed calls from Tiger, because they’re obviously still close,” McIlroy told Kimmage. 

“I sent him a quick message: ‘It will be fine … long day … just want to go to bed.’”

Editor’s note: To read Kimmage’s full interview with McIlroy and Lowry, please click here. Next week, a second part is also said to be coming.

Golf Magazine

Subscribe To The Magazine

Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.

Watch, play, win. Chirp Golf is your home for the best of real money Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) and Free-To-Play games.

Watch, play, win

Chirp Golf is your home for the best of real money Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) and Free-To-Play games. Featuring simple to play. easy to learn, and fun games. Chirp Golf has something for every golf fan.

Scan to Download:

Google Play Apple Store