Rory McIlroy says Europe were given “extra fire in the bellies” to seal Ryder Cup victory from what he believed was “disrespect” shown towards them by American caddie Joe LaCava.
McIlroy, 34, was a key figure as Europe beat the United States in Rome.
It came after a row between McIlroy and LaCava over the American’s on-course celebrations continued in a car park.
“I don’t think it just motivated me, it motivated the entire team,” McIlroy told BBC Sport Northern Ireland.
“We felt disrespected on that last green [on Saturday]. We wanted to go out and make it hurt them.”
Having won his first three matches at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club, McIlroy lost his fourballs match on Saturday and was involved in an angry exchange with Patrick Cantlay’s caddie LaCava over his celebrations on the 18th green.
The four-time major winner was livid after LaCava continued to celebrate a brilliant putt by Cantlay near the Northern Irishman, who was preparing his own effort to potentially halve a tense match.
But McIlroy says he returned to the course on Sunday in a “great frame of mind”, helped by reading meditational books by Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius.
“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,” he said.
“Walking off the 18th yesterday was the angriest I have been in my career. I said to the US guys I thought it was disgraceful what went on. I made that clear.
“But I needed to calm myself down. I could have let it bring me down the wrong path but I let it focus me.”
How McIlroy always wanted ‘redemption, not revenge’
McIlroy fought back tears of joy instead of disappointment after a career-best performance at the biennial men’s team event, which Europe won 16½-11½ on Sunday.
The world number two secured a 3&1 singles victory over American opponent Sam Burns to ensure he won four matches in the contest for the first time.
McIlroy felt he had let his team-mates down in their 2021 Ryder Cup defeat at Whistling Straits after suffering three heavy losses before beating Xander Schauffele in the singles.
He later broke down in tears during a television interview and said he could not wait for a shot at redemption in Rome.
“It’s been my best Ryder Cup performance to date, and I needed it,” McIlroy told BBC Sport Northern Ireland.
“I knew I needed one coming into this week because, quite frankly, my performance at Whistling Straits wasn’t what I expect of myself.
“This week I can leave here with my head held high and feel like I’ve done everything I can for the European team.”
Later in his news conference, McIlroy said he was not the only member of the European team who was desperate to atone for the chastening defeat in Wisconsin two years ago.
“The scoreline – 19-9 – that hurt, it really did,” added McIlroy. “Personally, I didn’t feel like I gave my best performance and I didn’t feel like I did my part for the team.
“There were a few of us up here on that team that wanted to come back and, even though everyone at the start of the week was talking about ‘do you want to get revenge’, this wasn’t about revenge.
“This was about redemption and showing what we could do.”