Rory McIlroy said on Sunday that being the leading points scorer in Europe’s Ryder Cup victory was “redemption” after his disappointing performance at Whistling Straits two years ago left him in tears.
The Northern Irishman was one of Europe’s key players against the USA this week, playing all five matches and winning four points.
McIlroy headed into the 2021 event struggling for form and went on to lose all three of his pairs matches before a consolation singles victory as Europe were thrashed by a record 19-9 margin.
But he has bounced back since and was in fine fettle all week in Rome, beating Sam Burns in a crucial singles match 3 and 1 on Sunday as Europe went on to clinch a 16.5-11.5 victory.
“The scoreline, 19-9. That hurt. It really did,” McIlroy told reporters.
“I didn’t feel like I gave my best performance, and I didn’t feel like I did my part for the team.
“There was a few of us up here that were on that team that wanted to come back, and everyone at the start of the week was talking about, ‘Oh, do you want to get revenge, do you want to get revenge on the US team’, and this wasn’t about revenge.
“This was about redemption and showing what we could do.”
McIlroy had a mixed Ryder Cup record for a player of his calibre before arriving in Rome, but has now taken 18 points from seven straight appearances and featured on five winning teams.
The 34-year-old said that each Ryder Cup becomes more special as he potentially edges towards the end of his career at the top level.
“I think as time goes by, this is my seventh Ryder Cup; am I going to play in another seven? I don’t know,” he said.
“I’m probably on the back nine of my Ryder Cup career, and every one that I get to play in from now on is very, very meaningful.
“Made the turn.”
– ‘I was pretty angry’ –
McIlroy was at the centre of controversial scenes late on Saturday as he became incensed by the behaviour of Patrick Cantlay’s caddie Joe LaCava on the 18th hole of their fourballs match.
The four-time major champion was livid after LaCava continued to celebrate a brilliant putt by Cantlay near the Northern Irishman while he was preparing for his own effort to tie the contest.
US media reports said that LaCava met McIlroy on Sunday morning to apologise, but the world number two shot those claims down.
Asked about the incident, McIlroy simply twice said: “I haven’t met Joe.”
McIlroy was filmed later on Saturday evening launching into a tirade at a US caddie before being bundled into a car by teammate Shane Lowry.
He said that Justin Thomas’ bag-man Jim ‘Bones’ Mackay was the unlucky man in the firing line.
“I texted Bones this morning. He was the first American I saw after I got out of the locker room so he was the one that took the brunt of it,” explained McIlroy.
“He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I texted Bones this morning and apologised for that.
“I was hot coming out of that yesterday. I was pretty angry. I didn’t agree with what happened on 18, but I think I let it fuel the fire today and it focused me and I was able to go out there and get my point.” (AFP)