Tyrrell Hatton was the last man standing as Europe partied into the early hours at their hotel to celebrate their Ryder Cup triumph.
The players had been swigging beers and champagne from the moment Tommy Fleetwood secured victory on Sunday.
A photograph of a bleary-eyed Shane Lowry surrounded by empty bottles of beer, champagne and the trophy was shared online as the players continued to let their hair down until at least 4.30am local time.
However, Hatton, one of the standout players as Europe seized back the Ryder Cup, was still on his feet, having been pictured with a frothed-up lager while wearing a pair of LED-lit party sunglasses outside the team’s hotel. “Last man standing,” Ryder Cup Europe wrote in an accompanying caption on social media.
— Ryder Cup Europe (@RyderCupEurope) October 2, 2023
The players, who guzzled beer and champagne from the trophy, had been partying raucously as soon as the 16½-11½ win was settled.
McIlroy and Lowry led renditions of “Europe’s on fire” on the team coach on the way from the course back into Rome
After his tears at Whistling Straits defeat two years ago, McIlroy was the life and soul at Marco Simone. He had also been laughing and joking with fans, waving his hat at one and declaring “I don’t have to be paid to wear it” in reference to rumours of a dispute in the US locker room about whether players should be paid to play in the Ryder Cup.
However, as the Northern Irishman was joined by the rest of his team, scenes got even more raucous as players boarded a bus, presumably heading to the team hotel in Rome.
Footage shared on social media shows McIlroy, Lowry and other players singing “Europe’s on fire, USA is terrified” at the top of their voice to the song Freed From Desire, by Gala.
The song, an established regular at major sporting events, had been adopted across the Ryder Cup by spectators.
Rory McIlroy vows he will win Ryder Cup again at Bethpage
Zach Johnson’s visitors arrived in the Italian capital confident of ending their 30-year wait for a victory on foreign soil but despite signs of a fightback in the concluding Sunday singles, were comfortably beaten.
It means that the away side has lost in each of the last five matches – a record in the modern era – since Europe grabbed glory in the Miracle of Medinah of 2012, but McIlroy is convinced that this blue-and-gold outfit will buck that trend in an atmosphere that could be the most febrile yet.
“I’ve said this for the last probably six or seven years to anyone that will listen: I think one of the biggest accomplishments in golf right now is winning an away Ryder Cup,” McIlroy said. “And that’s what we’re going to do at Bethpage.”
McIlroy physically banged the table as he said it in the post-match press conference. It was the end of a dramatic day in which Tommy Fleetwood, in the penultimate match, ensured Europe’s ninth win in the last 12 Ryder Cups when Rickie Fowler conceded a testing putt on the 16th before victory was sealed a hole later.
However, it was McIlroy who commanded the centre of the narrative. He was involved in an altercation with Joe LaCava, Patrick Cantlay’s caddie, on Saturday night, and was nicknamed “Rocky McIlroy” as a result by his team-mates.
Yet, McIlroy believed the incident was no laughing matter. It featured LaCava – the long-time bagman for Tiger Woods – waving his cap in derision at the crowd following a long birdie putt by Cantlay on the 18th and not moving out of McIlroy’s line of sight when asked. The pair argued on the green and then the unseemly row continued in the car park.
“I was hot coming out of that yesterday,” McIlroy said. “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. It was not just disrespectful to me, but to the whole team.”
McIlroy also had the memory of 2021 spurring him on. At Whistling Straits he cried live on TV after the record 19-9 defeat, admitting that he felt he let down the team. This time with four points out of five, he was the leading points-scorer on both teams.
“That hurt. It really did,” he said. “Everyone at the start of the week was asking: ‘Oh, do you want to get revenge on the US team?’ But this wasn’t about revenge. This was about redemption and showing what we could do.”
Nevertheless, there was definitely vengeance in the Rome air on Sunday. LaCava texted McIlroy on Saturday night to apologise and to try to set up a face-to-face meeting on Sunday morning to clear the air, but the world No 2 decided to concentrate on the build-up to his game against Sam Burns.
“We haven’t seen each other face to face but we’ve texted,” McIlroy said. “It’s a point of contention and it still hurts, but time is a great healer and we’ll all move on.”
🗣️ 'It fuelled me.'
A tearful Rory McIlroy spoke of how much winning four points during the Ryder Cup in Rome meant to him. 💙🇪🇺 pic.twitter.com/5GfUmSzGxN
— Sky Sports Golf (@SkySportsGolf) October 1, 2023
McIlroy’s 3&1 win over Burns, the reigning World Match Play champion, was Europe’s third point in the singles, which took them to 13 points. Tyrrell Hatton added another and the glory was left to Fleetwood, who beat Rickie Fowler 3&1. The singles session was halved 6-6, but that was little consolation to the US.
Their captain Zach Johnson held up his hands. “I would love to start the week over but that’s not possible,” he said. “I wish I would have done a better job of that.
“I’m proud of my guys, they fought. It’s not them, it’s on me. Maybe it’s some poor decisions, something to reflect on. I don’t know yet. I don’t know where to start. It’s too fresh and too raw. I don’t have the brainwaves to function right now.
“I’ll reflect on this and Team USA will be better off at some point. We will learn. We have motivation and they [players] will learn too. We will look at every angle, we will diagnose every little bit of it. I’m not making excuses, Europe outplayed us and they earned it.”
For his part, Donald was in tears, although would not reveal if he is prepared to take on the role again for New York, despite the players chanting “two more years” at the prize-giving ceremony. Donald was an emergency replacement for Henrik Stenson last summer after the Swede joined the LIV Golf League and was relieved of the role.
“I’m pretty emotional,” Donald said. “It’s been a long process, it’s been an amazing journey and I enjoyed this one. It was stressful. The US put up a fight today and hats off to them. Unbelievable, but I’m so proud of my 12 guys.
“We formed a bond from day one and they gave me everything. They trusted me and they delivered. Not many people gave us a chance after Whistling Straits.
“We were big underdogs, we started to show some form in the last six months and I couldn’t be happier with the team I’ve got. I think these guys will be around for a long time.”