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It’s the Ryder Cup subplot that refuses to go away – and now there are fresh claims in what has been dubbed ‘Hatgate’.

After allegations in Rome that Patrick Cantlay was at the centre of a split in the USA team room due to his belief that players should be paid to play in the biennial competition – claims the American half denied – more people have apparently come out to support that notion.

According to a report by The Fire Pit Collective’s Michael Bamberger, Cantlay emerged onto the first tee alongside Xander Schauffele for their Friday morning foursomes match against Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood when veteran NBC reporter Steve Sands asked him a simple question.

“No hat?”

“I’ll wear a hat when I’m paid to be here like he is,” Cantlay apparently replied, while motioning in the direction of the PGA of America’s senior director of public awareness and external relations, Julius Mason, who was standing nearby.

Cantlay’s remark, Bamberger writes, was confirmed to him by three people who heard it.

The original accusation led to the European fans heckling Cantlay for the rest of the weekend, including taunts ahead of his opening tee shots, as well as down the packed fairways of holes 16 and 18, where spectators took off their own caps and waved them in the PGA Tour star’s direction. It also led to a bizarre incident that saw Cantlay’s caddie, Joe LaCava, fall out with Rory McIlroy on the final green of their Saturday fourballs match, which later spilled into the car park.

• Patrick Cantlay and Joe LaCava: The pantomime double act this Ryder Cup desperately needed

• Why Team USA threatened to boot Xander Schauffele out of the Ryder Cup

After that victory, in which Cantlay holed a huge putt to seal a one-hole victory for him and Wyndham Clark over McIlroy and Matt Fitzpatrick, Sands asked him the question again – only this time on air. His answer was different.

“It just doesn’t fit,” he said. “I didn’t wear it at Whistling Straits because the hat just doesn’t fit. That’s really all it is.”

Twenty-four hours later, after Cantlay’s singles victory over Justin Rose, Sands turned his attention to the claims that Cantlay was at loggerheads with the PGA of America over money. “It’s totally false,” Cantlay replied. “It couldn’t be further from the truth. There hasn’t been one word of [a split] all week. The US team has been close all week. It’s just outright lies. Not a shred of truth in the article that just one journalist wrote. It’s crazy that one journalist can put a tweet out there, totally unfounded, with complete lies.”

Patrick Cantlay

Rumours also swirled that Cantlay didn’t want to wear a hat as he was getting married on the Monday following the Ryder Cup and was keen to avoid any unsightly tan lines.

When asked about this in the surprisingly jovial Team USA post-tournament press conference, Cantlay quipped: “Well, I am getting married on Monday.”

It is not the first time American players have spoken out about not being paid to play in the Ryder Cup. In 1999, David Duval and Mark O’Meara led the campaign, and it resulted in the PGA of America deciding to donate a certain amount to charities on behalf of the players.

This year, that number stands at $200,000, and Cantlay chose his share to be donated to his own golf foundation, which supports junior golfers and the emergency services.

author headshot

Alex Perry is the Associate Editor of bunkered. A journalist for more than 20 years, he has been a golf industry stalwart for the majority of his career and, in a five-year spell at ESPN, covered every sporting event you can think of. He completed his own Grand Slam at the 2023 Masters, having fallen in love with the sport at his hometown club of Okehampton and on the links of nearby Bude & North Cornwall.

Associate Editor

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