Europe’s Rory McIlroy inspired by emperor Marcus Aurelius in Rome for Ryder Cup win

Rory McIlroy hold aloft the Ryder Cup in Rome. Pic PA
Rory McIlroy hold aloft the Ryder Cup in Rome. Credit: PA

Rory McIlroy revealed how he took inspiration from Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius as he helped Europe win the Ryder Cup.

The 34-year-old had been studying the works of the philosopher ahead of the showdown with the USA.

He also admitted he was fuelled by anger after propelling Europe towards Ryder Cup victory in Rome on Sunday. The Northern Irishman had been embroiled in angry scenes as tempers boiled over the previous evening, getting involved in heated confrontations with two American caddies. First McIlroy had argued with Patrick Cantlay’s bagman Joe LaCava on the 18th green as the Americans raucously celebrated a point in the fourballs. The problems then spilled over into the car park as the players left the course, with McIlroy furiously gesticulating in the direction of Justin Thomas’ caddie Jim ‘Bones’ Mackay.

“I was hot coming out of that yesterday,” said McIlroy, who felt LaCava had got in his way as he still had a putt of his own to hit. “Walking off the 18th was probably the angriest I’ve ever been in my career. “I said it to the US guys, I thought it was disgraceful what went on and I made that clear. “I felt like I used it to my advantage and came out with a different level of focus and determination and in a way it gave the whole team a bit of fire in our bellies.” Cantlay played in the singles match prior to McIlroy and there was no acknowledgement between the pair or with LaCava when they crossed paths prior to teeing off. McIlroy has not yet spoken to LaCava about the matter but expects all to be smoothed out in time.

The victorious European Ryder Cup team. Credit: PA

He said: “We haven’t seen each other face to face but we’ve text and everything will be fine. “It’s a point of contention and it still hurts, but time is a great healer and we’ll all move on.” As for the car park incident, McIlroy admitted Mackay had innocently got caught up in the furore. He said: “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. “He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I text Bones this morning and apologised for that.” McIlroy was emotional after Europe crashed to a record 19-9 defeat at Whistling Straits two years ago and, he again struggled to hold back the tears, but this time the feeling was one of joy.

He said: “The scoreline – 19-9, that hurt. It really did. I didn’t feel like I gave my best performance and I didn’t feel like I did my part for the team. “This wasn’t about revenge. This was about redemption and showing what we could do.” McIlroy, who won four points out of a possible five in Rome, now wants to build on the triumph and win in the US in 2025. He said: “I think one of the biggest accomplishments in golf right now is winning an away Ryder Cup – and that’s what we’re going to do at Bethpage.” McIlroy beat Sam Burns 3&1 in Sunday’s singles to help Europe beat the USA 16.5-11.5.

Rory roars to victory on final day of Ryder Cup Credit: PA

Marcus Aurelius was emperor of the Roman Empire between 161 to 180 AD and a stoic philosopher, with McIlroy reading his works while heading to the Marco Simone Golf Club. “I’ve read Marcus Aurelius’ meditations. I’ve studied Stoicism for a while and read a lot of those sort of books,” he said. “I just thought as a former emperor of Rome and seeing that we are in Rome, I thought it would be a good time to revisit some of his thoughts, and I revisited them on the way to the course.” Marcus Aurelius was born in 121 AD and became emperor in 161. He wrote the 12 books of the Meditations, which chronicle different periods of his life, for his own guidance and self-improvement. He was depicted by Richard Harris in the 2000 film Gladiator, starring Russell Crowe. Europe held off a spirited display from the United States to clinch a memorable triumph on Sunday. Tommy Fleetwood’s 3&1 win over Rickie Fowler ultimately sealed victory, one which had looked likely since Europe’s 4-0 whitewash in the foursomes on Friday morning.

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