Rory McIlroy and Patrick Cantlay certainly aren't the best of friends. That was probably clear after the two played starring roles in the HatGate controversy that injected some much-needed life into a moribund Ryder Cup a few months back. A refresher: during the second day of the competition, British journalist Jamie Weir reported that Patrick Cantlay was refusing to wear a hat at the Ryder Cup as a form of protest for not being paid to play in the biannual competition. Cantlay denied the report and his teammates threw garbage on it but no matter; it took on a life of its own, and by the back nine of Saturday afternoon fourball match between McIlroy/Matt Fitzpatrick and Cantlay/Wyndham Clark scores of European fans were waving their hats to taunt the Americans.
Cantlay proceeded to birdie the final two holes, including hearting a 40-plus footer on the 18th, to win 17 and 18 and give the Americans some momentum heading into Sunday singles. His caddie, Joe LaCava, then waved his hat in response to the fans…and kept waving…and kept waving…so long that he interfered with McIlroy as he lined up his putt to tie the match. McIlroy confronted LaCava, who refused to back down and actually took a step toward McIlroy in a totally surreal scene. The two were separated but the confrontation spilled into the parking lot, where cameras showed an animated McIlroy shouting at American team members.
LaCava tried to bury the hatchet with McIlroy before the Sunday singles session but Rory wasn't having it. He said he used the incident for motivation, and he won his singles match to go 4-1 in the Ryder Cup as Europe cruised to a 16.5-11.5 victory.
Now he's opening up more about the incident. Once a year, McIlroy sits down with Irish journalist Paul Kimmage of The Irish Independent for a wide-ranging interview. It's always enlightening and compelling, and this year's no different. Kimmage asked McIlroy about the HatGate incident and Rory did not hold back.
“Here’s what angered me,” McIlroy said in the Irish Independent interview. “My relationship with Cantlay is average at best. We don’t have a ton in common and see the world quite differently.”
And, later, when speaking about simmering tensions on Saturday evening:
"And they’re trying to defuse the situation, but I start having a go at them,” McIlroy said. “‘Joe LaCava used to be a nice guy when he was caddying for Tiger, and now he’s caddying for that d–k he’s turned into a … I still wasn’t in a great headspace.”
Oh man. That's a little dicey given McIlroy and Woods' close relationship, which extends beyond mere friendship—they're business partners in the TGL simulator league venture, and Woods and LaCava are still close. Certainly a bit awkward. Speaking of TGL—both Cantlay and McIlroy are playing in it, and those broadcasts will rely heavily on player-to-player interaction. They're also two of the best 10 golfers on the planet and are assured to play together on the PGA Tour plenty moving forward. Who doesn't love a good rivalry?