McIlroy leads Europe to victory over ‘cheat’ Americans at Ryder Cup

An emotional Rory McIlroy guzzled champagne straight from the bottle as he triumphantly celebrated leading Team Europe to victory as they regained the Ryder Cup from the USA.

The Northern Irish star was joined by the rest of his team, including Jon Rahm, Justin Rose and captain Luke Donald, in celebrating wildly after Tommy Fleetwood secured the winning point on a hostile final day at the Simone Golf & Country Club in Rome. 

McIlroy said that he used the fuel of a heated row with Patrick Cantlay’s caddie last night to put ‘fire in his belly’ as Team Europe beat the USA 16 1/2 – 11 1/2 to clinch the Ryder Cup at the end of a memorable week in the eternal city. 

The American players appeared to taunt the Europeans on the final day after the contest descended into bad blood amid accusations of ‘cheating’ and a furious row between McIlroy and Cantlay’s caddie Joe LaCava last night.

The altercation- which continued into the club’s car park and saw McIlroy drop the f-bomb – and a second incident in which Team USA’s Justin Thomas appeared to ‘kick’ his ball left the Americans facing fury from European fans as they began the final 12 singles matches on Sunday.

Rory McIlroy celebrates an iconic Ryder Cup victory by pouring champagne over his face on the 18th green

Rory McIlroy, draped in a Northern Ireland flag, roars with passion as captain Luke Donald lifts the Ryder Cup 

Northern Irish superstar Rory McIlroy roars as he celebrates his shot on the 17th during day three of the Ryder Cup

Champagne is sprayed over Team Europe’s stars as Justin Rose, Jon Rahm and Nicolai Hojgaard celebrate

🗣️ “It fuelled me.”

A tearful Rory McIlroy spoke of how much winning four points during the Ryder Cup in Rome meant to him. 💙🇪🇺 pic.twitter.com/5GfUmSzGxN

— Sky Sports Golf (@SkySportsGolf) October 1, 2023

There were scenes of jubilation as Team Europe’s stars, including McIlroy (right) roared with delight

Rory McIlroy celebrates with his wife Erica after Europe regained the Ryder Cup on a hostile day

Team Europe’s Viktor Hovland poses with the players’ wives with the Ryder Cup Trophy on Sunday

Team Europe captain Luke Donald poses with the trophy and wife, Diane Antonopoulos as his team kiss their partners during the celebrations after winning the Ryder Cup

On a heated day two, Sam Burns had also riled up the European crowd by cupping his ears after sinking a birdie putt to win the hole for Team USA. He shouted: ‘What’s that? I can’t hear you. I can’t f***ing hear you.’

Last night, as tensions boiled over, McIlroy – who won four points during the Ryder Cup – was filmed arguing with his opponents after a row on the final green which was caused by an incident in which Team USA caddie LaCava refused to move out of the Northern Irish star’s way.

The caddie waved his hat in the air, before launching into an angry tirade at McIlroy.  The argument spilled into the car park after the event, with McIlroy confronting LaCava and calling him a ‘f***ing disgrace’. 

The waving of hats towards Cantlay has been a theme at this year’s Ryder Cup, initially said to be due to him refusing to wear a cap in protest at not being paid for the tournament. He has since denied this is the case. 

But it didn’t seem to hold McIlroy back as he took his singles match against Sam Burns, telling reporters after the win that the controversy ‘fuelled him’ ahead of Sunday’s play. 

Alongside victories from teammates Hovland, Fleetwood and Hatton, McIlroy took Europe to Ryder Cup victory behind team captain Luke Donald – who later shed some tears as he told Sky it was the highlight of his career.

Team USA had faced an uphill battle to break records to come back from a five-point deficit to try and retain the Ryder Cup this year, needing 8.5 points – while team Europe needed only four.

Europe shot into an early lead on Sunday, before being pegged back by the US to lead in five matches and draw in two, while the US also led in five by 1pm. But the Europeans held on to retain control of the final day and win the necessary points with several matches still to be completed.

Rory McIlroy celebrates upon winning his tie against the USA’s Sam Burns on Sunday

Team Europe celebrate on the final hole of the course after their Ryder Cup victory

A US player pretends to take off his hat and wave it as he faces a hostile crowd in Rome

Rory McIlroy launched into a livid rant at someone while leaving Marco Simone Saturday 

Rory McIlroy of Europe celebrates with his wife Erica as his emotions overflow following his win over Sam Burns

Team Europe captain Luke Donald celebrates after his side clinched the Ryder Cup on Sunday

Justin Rose and Jon Rahm of Team Europe celebrate wildly after winning the Ryder Cup in Rome

McIlroy said that he used the fuel of a heated row with Patrick Cantlay’s caddie last night to put ‘fire in his belly’ as Team Europe beat the USA 16 1/2 – 11 1/2

But as Cantlay faced boos and shouts of ‘cheat’ from European fans, the Americans engaged in some taunting themselves, continuing to wave their hats after good shots – and even pretending to wave hats they weren’t wearing.

Some Team USA stars ditched their own caps on the final day of singles matches in a ‘show of solidarity’.

But several others were seen taunting crowds by continuing with the hat waving – including the player up against McIlroy, Sam Burns. It seems to have done little for him, however, as McIlroy rushed into a four hole lead by hole 11, watched on by his wife Erica Stoll.

As Cantlay made an uncharacteristic error shortly afterwards, the roar from the crowd was deafening. He had already been facing the consequences for his caddie’s actions, with loud chants of ‘cheat’, ‘money, money, money’ and ‘hats off for your bank account’. 

The row centred on initial allegations that Cantlay was refusing to wear the hat because players are not paid to participate in the Ryder Cup.

After winning against Burns, McIlroy responded to calls from the crowd and took off his own hat before saying: ‘I don’t need to be paid to wear this!’ 

An emotional McIlroy told Sky Sports after winning the tie: ‘I needed that [the scenes from last night] to fuel me today and not let it take away from a great week. 

Justin Thomas was a dejected figure as he ‘taunted’ the Europeans by removing an imaginary hat after his side lost the Ryder Cup

McIlroy beams on the 18th green after Team Europe won the 2023 Ryder Cup in Rome on Sunday

There were scenes of jubilation as Team Europe won what turned out to be a hostile Ryder Cup

Jon Rahm and Shane Lowry of Team Europe celebrate victory on the 18th green in Rome

Tommy Fleetwood celebrates after winning his singles match against Rickie Fowler, securing the Ryder Cup victory point

McIlroy said Saturday’s row ‘fuelled’ him to take victory in Sunday’s singles match

Rory McIlroy was full of emotion after his match before the team went on to complete the job

Rory McIlroy’s game face is on. Walks past Cantlay and his caddie Joe LaCava without even a glance pic.twitter.com/C39UnCqpZ5

— Carl Markham (@carlmarkham) October 1, 2023

Rory McIlroy (left, in blue) walked past Patrick Cantlay and his caddie Joe LaCava without so much as a glance in their direction on Sunday ahead of tee off

Sam Burns gestures with his hat as he taunts the European crowd while facing off against Rory McIlroy

Team USA’s Rickie Fowler and Team Europe’s Tommy Fleetwood prepare to begin their match – with Fowler waving his hat in the air

Team USA’s Justin Thomas pretends to wave a hat around during his first hole tie against Sepp Straka

Team Europe’s Rory McIlroy reacts after a missed putt on the 2nd green – but soon went one hole up against opponent Sam Burns

McIlroy was seen appearing calm but serious as he walked out onto the green to warm up on Sunday

Patrick Cantlay (right) and caddie Joe LaCava (left) walk up the first hole on Sunday

Musician Niall Horan poses for a photo on the first tee at the Ryder Cup on Sunday

Monaco’s Prince Albert II (C) walks from the 2nd green during the singles matches on the final day of play in the 44th Ryder Cup

The Americans waved their caps on Saturday – a nod to European fans’ taunting over the controversy

‘I felt like I used it to my advantage. I feel the whole team came out here with a different level of focus and determination. In a way, it lit a fire under the bellies of the whole team. I so wanted to win another point for Europe.

‘Ever since Whistling Straits, I was so disappointed in my performance there so to come here to Rome and get four points for the team means a lot to me and hopefully we can just get it done.

‘I feel like it’s a great bounceback for us after what happened. It’s an incredible team, a young team and one that will be around for a long time, The support has been unbelievable.

‘It’s also been a great week for me personally. I am now going to go and follow boys and get them in the house and get this over and done with. We have played the back nine pretty well this week so I have full confidence in the boys to get the job done.’

After the win was secured, several fans rushed onto the green and dived in the water featuring around the course. 

Meanwhile player Justin Thomas cut a mournful figure as he still tipped an imaginary hat after losing the cup to the Europeans.

Play teed off on Sunday at 11.35am CET, with each of the matches beginning around 12 minutes after the previous one.

Crowds were extremely loud ahead of tee off in Rome, with chants from both sets of fans. But it was the Europeans who were making themselves heard with Cantlay being roundly jeered after LaCava overstepped the mark last night.

As well as golf pros and players’ families, singer Niall Horan was also seen cheering on team Europe. 

After around an hour of play Europe was leading in all but one matches, with McIlroy among those to have reset to take the lead early on Sunday.

He was soon up two holes alongside teammate Viktor Hovland. The only American ahead after six players had begun was Cantlay, who was one up on Englishman Justin Rose. 

Hovland’s opponent Collin Morikawa had a nightmare start to the final day, offering his Norwegian rival a chance to go three up on just the sixth hole – which he quickly took. McIlroy followed him to take an equally commanding lead by the seventh hole of the 18-hole course.

But the Americans began to pick up some steam into the afternoon, pegging both players back to two ahead and taking the lead in five of the 12 matches. 

The players seemed to take heart from the shift as they reverted to waving their hats – or imaginary hats – in the air and at the crowd when they landed good shots. 

As the day of golf wore on though the Americans simply found the hill too steep – and a capitulation in the eleventh match gave Tommy Fleetwood the crucial point which took victory for the Europeans.

Joe LaCava makes notes as he observes Cantlay, who took an early lead in his final day match

The Northern Irishman had argued with Patrick Cantlay’s caddie Joe LaCava after he initially did not move out of the golfer’s eyeline

 

Speaking after the match, captain Donald said: ‘I am pretty emotional. It’s been a long process, an amazing journey and I have really enjoyed this one.

‘It was stressful as the US put up a fight today so hats off to them. But I am so proud of my 12 guys. We formed a bond from day one and they gave me everything. They trusted me and they delivered for me.

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