Golf

BBC Sports Personality of the Year award ‘not what it once was’ – Rory McIlroy

The 34-year-old Northern Irishman did not attend the ceremony, provide a video message or give a live in-show interview.

Rory McIlroy was speaking ahead of his title defence at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic (Kamran Jebreili/AP)
Rory McIlroy Rory McIlroy was speaking ahead of his title defence at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic (Kamran Jebreili/AP) (Kamran Jebreili/AP)

Rory McIlroy has labelled the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award a “popularity contest” for which he forgot he was even nominated.

England and Manchester United goalkeeper Mary Earps won the accolade in December ahead of retired England cricketer Stuart Broad and world heptathlon champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson.

Wheelchair tennis player Alfie Hewett, jockey Frankie Dettori and McIlroy were the three other sports stars on the shortlist, but McIlroy did not attend the ceremony, provide a video message or give a live in-show interview.

Asked ahead of his title defence at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic if he was among those who question the relevance of the award, the Northern Irishman said: “Actually, whatever the results, I forgot I was nominated.

“So that’s how much I think about it. It’s a popularity contest and I think it’s just really not what it once was.”

Only two golfers have won the Sports Personality of the Year award in its 69-year history.

Dai Rees won in 1957 after captaining Great Britain to victory in the Ryder Cup at Lindrick and Nick Faldo came out on top in 1989 after claiming his second major title in the Masters.

Matt Fitzpatrick failed to make the shortlist despite winning the US Open in 2022, while McIlroy finished second behind Lewis Hamilton in 2014, a year in which he won the Open Championship and US PGA.