Team USA tried to rally around a hat controversy that was fueled by a parking-lot feud, but the spark proved too little too late. Team Europe rode the momentum of a Friday morning foursomes sweep at the first Ryder Cup in Rome all the way to Sunday, extending a decades-long tradition of winning on home soil.
Viktor Hovland, one of two players to play all five matches for Team Europe, put the first point on the board for captain Luke Donald’s team at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club. Europe reached 14 ½ points to win back the cup after Tommy Fleetwood drove the green on the drivable par-4 16th and Rickie Fowler hit it in the water. After Fleetwood knocked his eagle putt to 2 feet, 8 inches, Fowler conceded the birdie putt to give Europe the half point needed to win.
The final tally in Rome wasn’t as close as it felt, at times, on Sunday with Europe winning, 16 ½ to 11 ½.
The U.S. last won a Ryder Cup overseas in 1993.
— Adam Schupak (@AdamSchupak) October 1, 2023
A Saturday report from SkySports Jamie Weir insinuated that Patrick Cantlay’s refusal to wear a team hat centered around his desire for Ryder Cup players to get paid. European fans reacted by waving their hats at the American player all weekend. The whole scene culminated on Saturday evening with Cantlay’s caddie, Joe LaCava, waving his hat after Cantlay drained a match-winning putt to give the U.S. team life heading into singles.
Rory McIlroy took issue with LaCava’s antics getting in his way on the green. His frustrations boiled over in the parking lot when he had to be restrained while talking to caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay.
Rory = NOT happy pic.twitter.com/AgGdvZ4ibd
— Golfweek (@golfweek) September 30, 2023
After a loss two years ago at Whistling Straits brought McIlroy to tears, he won four points in Rome. McIlroy told NBC after winning his singles match that he used the incident on the 18th green and the parking lot Saturday night to his advantage.
“It was a bit of a deflating finish last night,” said McIlroy, “but I think what transpired on that last green gave us a little fire in our bellies to go out and get it done today.”
Cantlay, who improved his singles record in team play to 4-0-0 after a 2-and-1 victory over Justin Rose, told NBC after singles play that the report about Ryder Cup money and division in the U.S. team room was totally false.
“It couldn’t be further from the truth,” said Cantlay. “There hasn’t been one word of that all week. The U.S. team has been close all week.”