By Tony Jimenez
CHASKA, Minnesota (Reuters) – Rory McIlroy was so excited to win his afternoon fourballs match at the Ryder Cup on Friday that he planned his animated celebration before the point was won and also had to apologise to a member of the opposition.
McIlroy clinched a 3 and 2 triumph alongside Belgian rookie Thomas Pieters against Americans Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar by holing a 20-foot eagle putt and then nodded mockingly to the crowd before letting out a thunderous bellow.
“I bowed to them and said, ‘You’re welcome for the show’, the Northern Irishman told reporters. “You get the minority of people that are cheering against the other team.
“Most are respectful and are cheering really hard for the U.S. team. That’s totally acceptable and exactly what happens in Europe but still it’s a hostile environment.
“I actually thought about the celebration before I hit the putt, I knew it had a good chance of going in. I just want everyone watching out there to know how much this means to us.”
McIlroy was so thrilled that he completely forgot to shake the hand of Johnson’s caddie, brother Austin, after victory was sealed.
Asked if there was anything intentional about the snub, the world number three replied: “No, not at all. I did not know that.
“I get on really well with AJ and all the Johnson family so I’ll have to go and apologise to him, I sort of got caught up in the moment. I would class AJ as a good buddy of mine on tour, along with DJ.”
The win by McIlroy and Pieters helped Europe reduce their overall deficit to 5-3 at the end of the day after being swept 4-0 in the morning foursomes.
McIlroy said he had been upset by the partisan home crowd’s reaction to foursomes partner Andy Sullivan finding water at the 17th hole as the European duo were beaten 1-up in that tussle by Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler.
“That was a little disappointing in my eyes,” added the four-times major winner. “But, again, it’s a minority and most people out there are being respectful of the etiquette of our game.
“We want this Ryder Cup to be played in a very sportsmanlike conduct that the late, great Arnold Palmer would be proud of,” said McIlroy, referring to the American who died at the age of 87 on Sunday.
(Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)