An emotional Rory McIlroy said a heated argument with an American caddie in the car park of Marco Simone inspired his career-best display to help Europe regain the Ryder Cup in Rome.
McIlroy revealed the furious scenes at the end of the second day’s play left him “the angriest I’ve ever been” after the Northern Irishman had to be held back by teammate Shane Lowry amid an exchange with US caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay.
But McIlroy said the argument lit a fire in his belly as he came out to beat Sam Burns in the singles and claim his fourth victory of the week, helping set the platform for Europe to claim a victory over the USA.
McIlroy revealed he was also motivated to get revenge on Europe’s record defeat at Whistling Straits two years ago, which had left the four-time major champion in tears after only contributing one victory.
The 34-year-old said he had made up with caddie Mackay, as well as the caddie of Patrick Cantlay, Joe La Cava, whose behaviour when celebrating a half on the 18th had irked McIlroy and led to the furious exchange that spilled over into the car park.
Afterwards, McIlroy fought back the tears and told BBC 5 Live: “Walking off the 18th yesterday was probably the angriest I’ve ever been in my career. I said it to the US guys, I thought it was disgraceful what went on and I made that clear.
“I needed that to fuel me today and not let it take away from what has been a great week. I felt like I used it to my advantage and came out with a different level of focus and determination and in a way it gave the whole team a bit of fire in our bellies.”
McIlroy went on to say he had texted Mackay and apologised to the caddie before the start of the singles. “He was the first American I saw outside the locker room, I texted and apologised,” said McIlroy. “I was angry. I didn’t agree with what happened on 18. I let it fuel the fire today. It focused me and I went out and got the point. Joe wasn’t there.”
He added he was “relieved” to be held back by Lowry, who then took McIlroy “to the cold plunge at the hotel to cool down too”.
“We talked about it as a team, we felt it was disrespectful, to the whole team, we get the banter when we go to the States and play. It’s the way the Ryder Cup goes, you have to have thick skin. We’ve texted. Everything will be fine. It’s a point of contention, it still hurts. But time’s a healer.
“I just wanted to win another point for Europe. Ever since Whistling Straits I was so disappointed in my performance there, so to come here and get four points for the team means a lot to me.
“It’s a great bounce-back after Whistling Straits. The team we have is incredible. It’s a young team that I think will be around for a long time.”