Hatgate? Are you kidding me?
Heading into the final day of the 2023 Ryder Cup, which has the Europeans leading the Americans 10½-5½, one of the story lines is about a player going hatless.
Patrick Cantlay (Titleist Pro V1x), one of the most unassuming players in the world of men’s professional golf, went hatless in the afternoon session on Saturday at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome.
There had been all kinds of speculation on the internet spurred by a Sky Sports report that he was doing it to protest the fact the players aren’t being paid to play in the tournament.
“It just doesn’t fit, it’s as simple as that,” Cantlay told NBC’s Steve Sands after he led his pairing, which included Wyndham Clark (Titleist Pro V1x) to a win over Rory McIlroy (TaylorMade TP5x) and Matt Fitzpatrick (Titleist Pro V1x). “It didn’t fit as Whistling Straight (for the 2021 Ryder Cup) and didn’t fit this week. Everyone knows that.”
I’ve said it before, how difficult is it for the clothing manufacturers of these tournaments to properly produce a hat that fits all the players? McIlroy has gone without a hat before because he said he has a small head. He is wearing one in this tournament because apparently the hat manufacturer finally measured one that fits his head.
This can’t be rocket science.
But the fact the controversy stemmed from a European news outlet, which clearly had no problem when McIlroy didn’t wear one, tells you all about the power of the internet and slanted journalism. Cantlay made clutch putts on the final three holes, which included some razzing from the European fans, who took off their hats before his putt on the 16th green.
When he made the putt, he smiled.
“He’s Patty Ice for a reason,” said Clark.
Cantlay’s caddie Joe LaCava took off his hat after the clutch 43-foot birdie by his boss on the 18th that helped seal the win for the U.S. It created a controversy of sorts because he got in the way of McIlroy’s line. McIlroy laughed it off. But Shane Lowry (Srixon Z-Star), who did not play in the afternoon session, took offense.
“He’s the best and that’s all there is to say about that,” Cantlay said about his caddie, who has worked for Davis Love III (Titleist Pro V1), Justin Leonard (TaylorMade TP5), Dustin Johnson (TaylorMade TP5x) and Tiger Woods (Bridgestone Tour B XS). He was on the bag when Woods won the Masters in 2019 as part of his remarkable comeback.
In 2019 LaCava was inducted in the Caddie Hall of Fame. I didn’t even know it existed.
“This is what makes this event what it is,” said NBC’s host Dan Hicks.
“The Europeans kind of dish it out, maybe they have to take it a little bit,” replied Hicks’ broadcast partner Paul Azinger.
Azinger offered a zinger, pun intended, prior to the truth of the hat controversy coming out after the final hole of the day.
“He may come out with a hat with a middle finger for all we know,” said Azinger.
RALLY CRY FOR JOHNSON: Azinger uttered a line from Chip Beck, who was a teammate of his on the American team that beat the Europeans in 1993.
“The will to win can overcome a mechanical breakdown,” said Azinger, after a video was shown of him being interviewed in the tournament back then by Hicks.
Azinger had perfect hair then. It’s still not bad. Hicks had hair back then, but not so now. Hey, nothing lasts forever.
ROCKING THE FLOW: Sam Burns (Callaway Chrome Soft X), who has grown his hair into a mullet, had the initials USA cut into his beard, just below one of his ears.
“If you’re going to carve that into your head, you’d better come and brings some game with you and Burns brought it,” said Azinger after Burns and partner Collin Morikawa (TaylorMade TP5) beat Viktor Hovland (Titleist Pro V1) and Ludvig Aberg (Titleist Pro V1x)
A ROSE GARDEN: England’s Justin Rose (TaylorMade TP5), the eldest player in the tournament at age 43, has been the star so far for the Europeans. NBC broadcaster Cara Banks, who is from England, interviewed Rose and asked what it is like to be playing again in the Ryder Cup.
“To play in this atmosphere, it tests every part of you,” said Rose. “Your emotions go up, everything is more exciting and more hopeful. It’s a challenge but the best the best kind of challenge.”
Rose and Robert MacIntyre (TaylorMade TP5x) defeated Justin Thomas (Titleist Pro V1x) and Jordan Spieth (Titleist Pro V1x), who are both having struggle’s in the tournament, more so Spieth. But Rose paid them respect after winning.
“Justin and Jordan, they’re an unbelievable pairing. Ww know what they are capable of. They are the feistiest pair you’ll ever play against. Bobby and I did a nice job closing out the back nine.”
He made clutch putts on the 18th in the afternoon sessions on Friday and Saturday. Europe’s captain Luke Donald (Titleist Pro V1x) chopped a variety of Ryder Cup veterans from his squad this year and went with a younger squad. MacIntyre is one of the European rookies.
SCHEFFLER IN TEARS: Scottie Scheffler (Titleist Pro V1x) and partner Brooks Kopeka (Srixon Z-Star Diamond) were walloped 9&7 by Hovland and Aberg Saturday morning, the largest margin of victory in Ryder Cup history.
Scheffler was so despondent he cried, proving that this tournament matters even if it’s only for a cup and pride.