Rory McIlroy forgot he was nominated for Sports Personality of the Year

‘It’s a popularity contest. It’s not what it once was’

Rory McIlroy has delivered another blow to Sports Personality of the Year by admitting he forgot he was on the shortlist for the BBC event in December.

McIlroy was a notable absentee either in person or via video link for the ceremony, which increased focus on the BBC’s gradual withdrawal from covering live golf in recent years. McIlroy’s Ryder Cup team-mate Tommy Fleetwood spoke on his behalf on stage. McIlroy did not finish in the top three of Spoty, which was won by Mary Earps.

“Whenever I saw the results, I forgot I was nominated,” McIlroy said. “So that’s how much I think about it. It’s a popularity contest. It’s not what it once was.”

McIlroy refused to answer the “hypothetical” of whether he would appear at Spoty should he win the Masters, therefore completing a Grand Slam of Majors, and be nominated again. More pressing is a McIlroy defence at the Dubai Desert Classic. He saw off Patrick Reed to lift the trophy for a third time, 12 months ago. As is typical when McIlroy appears in front of the media, discussion at the Emirates Club on Wednesday surrounded the future for the elite game.


McIlroy has been in favour of a global tour, with the rebel LIV circuit reduced to a brief window at the end of each year. McIlroy said he would play on LIV should it resemble cricket’s Indian Premier League. This earned a rebuke from Sergio García; the Spaniard plays on LIV and believes his colleagues “deserve more” than McIlroy suggested.

“Sergio feels he deserves a lot of things,” said McIlroy, apparently only partly in jest. “It’s trying to align interests. I think right now it’s just very, very hard to align everyone’s interests in the game.”

McIlroy endorsed the sentiment of the outgoing DP World Tour chief executive Keith Pelley, who has stressed professional golf has to be “global” in nature. “Look at the [PGA Tour] event at Kapalua a couple of weeks ago, which is supposed to be one of the big signature events,” McIlroy said. “You see the ratings that that did on TV. I would say they were quite underwhelming compared to some of the other events.

“I think the opportunity here is global. Look, they are still massive events in America and I think they have huge history and tradition and they need to be kept. But there’s a lot of opportunity elsewhere.”

Not that McIlroy is as prominent in such discussion as was once the case. The world No 2 left his position on the PGA Tour’s policy board in November. The widespread theory is that McIlroy will benefit in 2024 from renewed concentration on competitive matters.

“I think I’ve certainly got a little more time to put into my game,” said McIlroy. “I’m probably a little unburdened with some of the things that I was going through over the past couple of years. My focus is firmly back on stuff inside the ropes and that is a really nice feeling.” – Guardian