Rory McIlroy And Patrick Cantlay Paired Together For First Time Since Ryder Cup 'Hat Gate' In US Open Final Round

McIlroy and Cantlay will try to win the year's third men's Major - all while ignoring their ice-cold relationship with each other...

Patrick Cantlay (left) and Rory McIlroy
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The final round of the US Open is going to be full of drama and fascinating storylines throughout the final day's play, but one thread that will likely lead to a considerable amount of broadcast time and chatter among the fans is the pairing of Rory McIlroy and Patrick Cantlay.

The two - who could not be classed as good friends - will tee off on Sunday at 2:10pm ET (7:10pm BST) looking to quickly close the three-shot gap up to leader Bryson DeChambeau and set up their own respective Major tilt at Pinehurst No.2.

As they do so, Cantlay and McIlroy will have to park their contrasting views on the world of golf and their differing styles of play - all while trying to ignore the events of last October at the Ryder Cup.

Late on during the duo's brief time on the PGA Tour board together, McIlroy was leading Team Europe's charge towards regaining the Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club just outside of Rome, Italy.

After a report broke on the second morning that Cantlay was refusing to wear a Team USA cap due to a dispute over whether players should be paid for their appearance at the biennial competition, European fans supporting McIlroy and Matt Fitzpatrick taunted the eight-time PGA Tour winner by waving their hats in the air whenever he was near.

Joe LaCava and Patrick Cantlay eye up a putt

Joe LaCava and Patrick Cantlay

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Ironically, it appeared to spur Cantlay on and the Californian enjoyed a fantastic day alongside Wyndham Clark - ultimately holing a clutch putt on the 18th that would give Zach Johnson's men faint hope of a miracle recovery on Sunday.

Once said putt dropped, and clearly fed up by his player's treatment, Joe LaCava - Cantlay's caddie - began fervently waving his cap above his head while standing close to McIlroy. The four-time Major winner was upset by LaCava's ill-judged moment and an argument, which would ultimately spill over into the car park later on, arose.

McIlroy and Fitzpatrick both missed their tying putts, but the incident left such a sour taste in the Northern Irishman's mouth that he walked onto the course the following day with a steely determination seldom seen even at a Major. Sam Burns was the victim that day, falling 3&1 after putting up a decent but forlorn fight.

The bitterness between McIlroy and LaCava was quickly smoothed over, however, with the 35-year-old revealing that Cantlay's caddie had patched their relationship up shortly after Luke Donald's men lifted the trophy.

McIlroy said: “Joe LaCava came into the European team room on the Sunday night and had a drink and a chat. I've had a great relationship with Joe over the years when he caddied for Tiger (Woods) and that wasn't going to change.

Rory McIlroy and Joe LaCava shake hands after the Saturday afternoon fourball match in the Ryder Cup at Marco Simone

(Image credit: Getty Images)

“For me, the incident happened, I purposely didn't want to meet anyone on the Sunday morning because I wanted what had happened to fuel me for that day. My whole focus was let's make sure Europe win the Ryder Cup and then we will sort all the other stuff out afterwards. And it's all fine. We're all friends now.”

It did not appear as though McIlroy and Cantlay had made up, though, as the Northern Irishman was later quoted calling his PGA Tour rival a d*** during an interview with the Irish Independent’s Paul Kimmage.

In the story, published in December 2023, McIlroy was asked about the 'hat gate' incident. He said: “Here’s what angered me. My relationship with Cantlay is average at best. We don’t have a ton in common and see the world quite differently.

"And they [Jim ’Bones' Mackay] are trying to defuse the situation, but I start having a go at them. 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.”

Rory McIlroy speaks to Patrick Cantlay's caddie Joe LaCava after their match at the Ryder Cup.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Credit to Cantlay, the American chose to pour cold water over the aforementioned comments in a later interview with, stating that it was "taken out of context."

He said: “I think we’re both highly competitive and we’re both trying to be the absolute best,” he told during a wide ranging interview. “I think we both admire that part of each other.

"As far as the Policy Board goes, we’ve worked really closely together and had a really good working relationship over my year on the board.

“Look, I talked to him post-Ryder Cup and, y’know, everything was cordial and all good.”

Patrick Cantlay on the left side of a split screen with Rory McIlroy on the right

(Image credit: Getty Images)

On Saturday night, with both Cantlay and McIlroy in a tie for second on four-under, only Cantlay was asked about the hotly-anticipated penultimate grouping on Sunday.

He would not be drawn into saying much, however, quickly deflecting on to his own chances of picking up a maiden Major. Cantlay said: "Yeah, should be great. To be just -- I don't know what Bryson is finishing up at, but to be in second or T2nd, I'm in a great spot come tomorrow.

"It's a golf course that's a challenge. If you can make some birdies, you can gain a lot of ground. I'm really happy with how I played today, and I'm looking forward to tomorrow."

I'm sure a lot of other people concur with the final part of that last sentence, Patrick.

Jonny Leighfield
Staff Writer

Jonny Leighfield is our Staff News Writer who joined Golf Monthly just in time for the 2023 Solheim Cup and Ryder Cup. He graduated from the University of Brighton with a degree in Sport Journalism in 2017 and spent almost five years as the sole sports reporter at his local newspaper. During his time with Golf Monthly, Jonny has interviewed several stars of the game, including Robert MacIntyre, Ian Poulter, and Lee Westwood. An improving golfer himself, Jonny enjoys learning as much about the game as he can and is hoping to reach his Handicap goal of 18 at some stage. He attended both the 150th and 151st Open Championships and dreams of attending The Masters one day.