Europe’s captain, Luke Donald, defended Rory McIlroy after furious scenes involving the Northern Irishman dominated the end of day two at the Ryder Cup.
Donald explained what angered McIlroy during the celebrations of Joe LaCava, caddie for Patrick Cantlay, at the end of an American fourball win. A finger-jabbing McIlroy was later filmed making his disgust perfectly plain in the car park of Marco Simone Golf Club, where he was bundled into a vehicle by his teammate Shane Lowry.
“We love this event because of the passion but we want to do it the right way,” Donald said. “Obviously Rory felt like the line was crossed on the 18th green.”
Cantlay converted a 43ft putt, with McIlroy still waiting to play. McIlroy and Matt Fitzpatrick missed, meaning victory for Cantlay and Wyndham Clark. “I saw it unfold when Patrick made that putt,” Donald said. “Joe was waving his hat. There was some hat waving going on throughout the day from the crowd. Not [from] our players. 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 Rory was upset about that.”
The waving of hats towards Cantlay had become a theme after it was suggested he was refusing to wear one in protest at not being paid to play in the Ryder Cup, which he later denied.
“Listen, we’re all competitors,” said Donald. “We all want to win but we want to do it in the right way. 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.”
Lowry and Justin Rose had also made their displeasure towards LaCava plain. LaCava had fired back verbally. Donald admired the way European players defended McIlroy’s cause. “Of course they have their backs,” said the captain. “We are a big family this week. We support each other.”
Europe will take a 10½ to 5½ lead into the final day. “We are in a great position, five points ahead going into the singles at home,” said Donald. “I like where we are. I like the feelings in the locker room. Patrick obviously made some great putts and flipped that match at the end but we’ve had a lot of momentum going our way.”