GUIDONIA MONTECELIO, Italy (AP) — Waiting to hit his tee shot on the reachable par-4 16th, Patrick Cantlay smiled and gestured with his hands for the pro-Europe spectators to keep up the ribbing they had been giving him all day long for not wearing a hat.
Turns out Cantlay got the last laugh.
The hatless Cantlay holed birdie putts on the final three holes to earn the Americans a win in the final fourballs match on Day 2 of the Ryder Cup. He and partner Wyndham Clark beat Rory McIlroy and Matt Fitzpatrick 1-up Saturday.
“Hats off for your bank account,” the gallery chanted in Cantlay’s direction as thousands of spectators waved their hats at him on hole after hole.
“I’ve never had so many standing ovations going to tee boxes and greens,” Cantlay said. “I told Wyndham when we were going to the 1st tee today that we were going to use all the energy out there as fuel. And we did.”
It was all a response to an unsubstantiated report from Sky Sports — the broadcast partner for the European tour at Marco Simone — that singled out Cantlay as causing a rift among the Americans because he thinks they should be paid at the Ryder Cup.
U.S. captain Zach Johnson emphatically denied that there was a rift in the team room.
“This is one of the most united teams I have ever been associated with,” Johnson said. “And when it comes to the dollar sign, I don’t mean to sound cliché, but the Ryder Cup is about more than any of that. It’s about standing with a band of guys to represent your nation, to represent more than you in the game of golf. … If there’s anything that deals with money, there’s guys that would pay to play in this.”
The report also claimed Cantlay was not wearing a hat out of protest. But Cantlay also didn’t wear a cap at the last Ryder Cup two years ago.
“The hat doesn’t fit,” Cantlay said. “It didn’t fit at Whistling Straits, and didn’t fit this week. Everyone knows that.”
As for the claim about a protest, Cantlay said, “That’s the furthest thing from the truth.”
After making a 45-foot putt in fading light on 18, Cantlay responded by pretending to take a hat off his head. Cantlay’s caddie, Joe LaCava, furiously waved his hat at the crowd and near McIlroy and Fitzpatrick, who still had birdie chances, drawing ire from the crowd and from Shane Lowry, another European player. The rest of the U.S. players looking on from off the green also removed their hats and waved them.
It was quite a burst of energy for a team that has mostly struggled over the opening two days, and still trails 10 ½ to 5 ½. Johnson inferred after Friday’s play that some of his players were sick.
“A lot of us have not been feeling great. We’ve been a little under the weather this week,” Cantlay said. “But we finally have a moment we can celebrate a little, and we’re going to take that opportunity and can try turn it into some momentum for tomorrow.”
Added teammate Max Homa jokingly, “I think we are all just sick of Pat not wearing a hat.”
AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf