Rory McIlroy has never really been backwards in coming forwards, but his latest interview with Paul Kimmage of the Irish Independent has been a real eye-opener, even for him.
The four-time Major champion had some strong words on his altercation with Joe LaCava, revealed how Tiger Woods tried to get involved and was glowing in his praise for his new best mate Shane Lowry - who also spoke to Kimmage about events in Rome.
As per usual, McIlroy has made some big headlines with his comments, and with so much to arise from his interview we've picked out the big five talking points to go through.
And if you want the full story, you can read the full interview with in the Irish Independent here (subscription required).
McIlroy is NOT a huge fan of Patrick Cantlay
While McIlroy was trying to explain what really got on his nerves in Rome, he revealed that he was not exactly best buddies with Patrick Cantlay.
“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."
After his dust-up with Joe LaCava, McIlroy also later had words with Brooks Koepka's Northern Irish caddie Ricky Elliott and coach Claude Harmon III, where he was less than complimentary about Cantlay.
"I start having a go at them," McIlroy added. "'Joe LaCava used to be a nice guy when he was caddying for Tiger and now he’s caddying for that d*** he’s turned into an ass ...’ I still wasn’t in a great headspace."
Live From just showed this angle of LaCava on the 18th green in Rory’s kitchen as he prepared for his birdie putt. Definitely right in Rory’s way. pic.twitter.com/NcBAILHBcJSeptember 30, 2023
These are the comments that made the headlines and you better believe Cantlay has seen them by now, and maybe this could spark the next great personal golfing rivalry.
And although Cantlay may not be to McIlroy's taste, he does have huge respect for him given what he did at the Ryder Cup.
“Those three putts he made on 16, 17 and 18 were fantastic," McIlroy added about their Saturday match. "And under that pressure, to give your team a glimmer of hope going into Sunday was big ba**s. So all respect to him."
What really got McIlroy’s blood boiling in Rome?
We all know the scene by now, with Joe LaCava taking his celebrations a bit too far on the 18th green, but McIlroy says the rage he later displayed in the Marco Simone Golf Club car park crept up on him later on.
McIlroy said: “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.'"
When Lowry then gave his rousing speech in the team room, it all served to fire McIlroy up even more about being wronged in his view - with Lowry needing to stop him possibly from making it worse.
Rory McIlroy is FIRED UP pic.twitter.com/zPurVi4RbVSeptember 30, 2023
“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.’”
And in now familiar scenes, McIlroy says Jim 'Bones' Mackay bore the brunt of his frustration purely because he was on Team USA.
"He’s coming over to try and diffuse the situation," McIlroy said. "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's 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."
Luke Donald loved it
Luke Donald was always deemed a quiet, mild-mannered player, but those who knew him said he had the inner steel that would serve him well as Ryder Cup captain - and he proved them right.
The Englishman showed more emotion during the week in Rome than he had his entire career, and he also showed he doesn't mind a scrap judging by his reaction to McIlroy's spat on the Saturday.
After Donald finally got back to the team room after doing media to explain the situation, McIlroy said: “Then Luke comes in and sits down and doesn't acknowledge anyone. And he looks at me and I’m thinking, ‘I could be in trouble here.
“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.”
Maybe Donald is tough enough to continue as European captain and run the gauntlet of an away Ryder Cup in New York in 2025 after all...
Tiger tried to get involved
Joe LaCava was Tiger Woods' caddie, and we all know how close the 15-time Major champion and McIlroy have become as friends and now business partners in the TMRW Sports group that's behind the TGL launching in January.
So after watching two close friends going at it on the biggest golfing stage there is, Woods tried to get involved, but McIlroy says he wasn't interested at the time.
“There was also three texts and two missed calls from Tiger, because they’re obviously still close,” McIlroy added.
“I sent him a quick message: ‘It will be fine, long day, just want to go to bed.’”
Interestingly, McIlroy also cleared up a point of contention about whether LaCava tried to get in touch the night of their spat - confirming that the veteran caddie did indeed text him, but saying he was too drained to respond.
McIlroy revealed LaCava texted him saying: “'Hey Rory, would love to meet up in the morning to clear the air.’ But I was tired and didn’t get back to him."
Lowry's positive impact
There's a real golfing bromance brewing between McIlroy and Lowry, who have been spotted at the Rugby World Cup together and also enjoyed a huge celebration after winning the Ryder Cup.
McIlroy spoke at length about Lowry's positive impact on both him personally and on the team room at the Ryder Cup after a stellar Saturday night speech.
“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 McIlroy.
Lowry then added about it: “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.
“It just came out of me. I can’t even remember what I said - a halftime in the dressing room kind of thing. I talked about not just wanting to beat them, but to annihilate them. I wanted to get one back for Paddy [Padraig Harrington] and beat them by more than they beat us at Whistling Straits. I think it went down pretty well.”
Although it's not quite "you make me want to be a better man" levels from the movies, it seems the McIlroy-Lowry bromance is her to stay.
"He's a great person to be around and a really good influence on me," McIlroy said of Lowry. "He enjoys his life and everything he's worked for, and I think spending time with him makes me a better version of myself."