PGA Tour star Rory McIlroy claimed he ‘forgot’ he was nominated for the 2023 Sports Personality of the Year award. Golf players tend to be overlooked in the public award, with the likes of Matt Fitzpatrick shunned last year despite winning the 2022 U.S. Open.
McIlroy was included on a shortlist of six contenders, including cricketer Stuart Broad, jockey Frankie Dettori and wheelchair tennis star Alfie Hewett. Athlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson and England goalkeeper Mary Earps were also nominated.
Lionesses star Earps was the recipient of last month’s SPOTY award, with Broad finishing second as he retired after the Ashes. While his agonising wait for another major triumph continued, McIlroy enjoyed a stellar 2023 as he avenged the brutal record defeat at the 2021 Ryder Cup with a talismanic perfromance in Rome as Europe regained the iconic trophy.
McIlroy finished as the top points scorer on either side with four out of five matches won. Europe’s victory also gave the 34-year-old his fifth Ryder Cup triumph to cap off an impressive year, but he failed to win SPOTY.
His last nomination for the award came back in 2014, when the Northern Irishman won both the PGA Championship and Open Championship as he finished the year World No. 1. But it wasn’t enough, missing out to Lewis Hamilton.
Nine years later, McIlroy had the chance to win again but he opted to snub his invite. At the Dubai Desert Classic this week, he was asked about the ongoing drought for a golf winner of the SPOTY award.
“I forgot I was nominated,” McIlroy frankly declared. “So that’s how much I think about it. It’s a popularity contest, and I think it’s just not really – it’s not what it once was.”
Sir Nick Faldo is the last golfer to win the BBC SPOTY accolade in 1989, and many fans of the sport tend to dismiss the award due to the lack of recognition. Last year, Fitzpatrick was left off the shortlist despite winning the U.S. Open in epic circumstances at the Country Club of Brookline.
Despite the Sheffield star joining the legendary Jack Nickalus as the only other player to win the US Amateur Championship and the US Open at the same venue, Fitzpatrick’s achievement was dismissed. Fitzpatrick reportedly politely declined the call from organisers to attend the awards before the shortlist was named on account of the lack of acknowledgement golfers tend to receive at the event.
Taking to X at the time, Ian Poulter furiously reacted to Fitzpatrick’s omission: “Sorry but complete disregard for @MattFitz94 makes this event a continued farce and joke. I experienced first hand how much of a joke this was 10 years ago. Promised myself then I’d never waste time attending or watching again.”