"It's not what it once was" Rory McIlroy takes aim at prestigious sporting award

While Rory McIlroy has no shortage of sporting accolades, he believes one award he was recently nominated for has become a simple popularity contest.

Johnny Percival's picture
Wed, 17 Jan 2024
Rory McIlroy

From green jackets to gold medals, sporting awards come in all different shapes and sizes these days, but one potential prize left Rory McIlroy so underwhelmed he forgot he was even nominated.

Speaking to the media ahead of the Dubai Desert Classic this week, McIlroy gave a comical response to questions he received about his nomination for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2023.

The Northern Irishman had successfully led Team Europe to a huge victory in the 2023 Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Country Club in October, but despite that, it would appear he had given up hope of adding to his collection of silverware before the SPOTY winner had even been announced. 

Related: Revealed: Where Rory McIlroy was instead of attending BBC SPOTY

Questioned not only about his own involvement but also Matthew Fitzpatrick's snub from the nominations in 2022, McIlroy claimed he actually forgot he was even in contention to win.

McIlroy said: 

"Actually, whenever the results were announced, I forgot I was nominated."

When pressed to elaborate, McIlroy gave a fairly damming analysis of the awards as a whole.

He added:

"So that's how much I think about it. It's not -- it's a popularity contest, and I think it's just not really -- it's not what it once was."

While McIlroy didn't shy away from making his feelings clear about the awards, talk of a career grand slam did make him reconsider if he would turn up in the future. 

"Yeah, I mean, I don't know. That's a hypothetical. Depends what my chances were of winning it, I guess."

While McIlroy not winning SPOTY in 2023 came as a shock to nobody, it's fair to say he was very unlucky not to have picked up the award in 2014 when he finished second to Lewis Hamilton despite winning the Open Championship and US PGA in the same year. 

It's fair to say golfers haven't had the best of luck at SPOTY in the past, with only two previous winners picking up the illustrious award. 

Dai Rees won in 1957 after leading Great Britain to victory in the Ryder Cup, and Nick Faldo also captured the award in 1989 following his second major championship at The Masters.

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