What was the Ryder Cup Hat-Gate thing all about?

The 2023 Ryder Cup will be remembered for many things, but perhaps none more absurd than the “Hat-Gate” controversy.

While the Ryder Cup is traditionally known for its fierce competition, intense rivalries, and some of the most unforgettable moments in professional golf, the 2023 edition will be remembered for not only Europe’s dominant victory but for a rather peculiar controversy that unfolded amidst the golf. The entire debacle was centred around something as innocuous as a hat—or, rather, the lack of one.

Looking back on it now, the whole debacle seems a bit ridiculous and petulant. But in case you weren’t across the whole thing, here are the details.

Why Wasn’t Patrick Cantlay Wearing a Hat?
It all started when Patrick Cantlay, a prominent Team USA player, decided not to wear a team cap. The reason? While unsubstantiated and denied by Cantlay, he was apparently protesting the lack of compensation for Ryder Cup participants. Yes, you read that right—no paycheck, no hat. Cantlay claimed the hat just didn’t fit. Hard to believe in an event brimming with more merchandise than you can shake a cap at.

How Did the Galleries Respond?
Golf fans are known for their creativity, and they didn’t disappoint this time. Once the reports broke of a fracture in the US Team due to the protest, the galleries started a chorus of hat-related chants. “Hats off for your bank account!” echoed across the course, turning a simple headwear choice into a full-blown spectacle. On occasions, the galleries seemed more interested in Cantlay’s financial statements than the actual golf.

What Did Joe LaCava Do?
Now, here’s where it gets truly bizarre. Joe LaCava, Tiger Woods’ long-time caddie and a member of Team USA, decided to join in on the hat-waving fun. But he didn’t stop there. During a critical moment on the 18th green, LaCava waved his hat vigorously, drawing the ire of Rory McIlroy who was preparing to make his birdie putt. McIlroy believed that LaCava’s antics interfered with his putting line. It’s safe to say that LaCava’s behaviour didn’t win him any popularity points.

What Happened with Rory McIlroy Afterwards in the Car Park?
As if the on-course drama wasn’t enough, things took an even stranger turn in the car park. Footage emerged of Rory McIlroy engaging in a heated exchange with Justin Thomas’ caddie, Jim Mackay, also known as Bones. McIlroy appeared visibly upset and was seen pointing and shouting in Mackay’s direction. Shane Lowry had to intervene to prevent things from escalating further. It was a bizarre coda to an already peculiar day.

Justin Thomas tips his imaginary cap
Amidst the Hat-Gate controversy, one player decided to make a capless statement of his own. Throughout the final round, Thomas playfully and petulantly tipped his imaginary cap to the crowds. Not once for a laugh or twice for a few grins, but every time he won a hole.

Who Eventually Had the Last Laugh?
In the end, despite all the hat-waving, protests, and on-course theatrics, Europe triumphed 16½-11½ to win back the Ryder Cup. All memories of the dominant US victory at Whistling Straits a few years ago now firmly behind them. The European team spent the evening (and early next morning) partying and singing songs on the team bus. The US team went home without a feather in their cap.

And Patrick Cantlay? He stayed in Rome for a few more days and got married.

One thought on “What was the Ryder Cup Hat-Gate thing all about?

  • All that is as us Aussies say BS. The real reason was he was getting married a few days after and didn’t want a hat tan mark so rather than appearing vain he made the comment about being paid and everyone was sucked in. He wore shirts with USA on them so the hat scenario doesn’t wash.


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