Mcllroy aims brutal dig BBC SPOTY claiming it's 'nothing more than a popularity contest'

Mcllroy aims brutal dig BBC SPOTY claiming it's 'nothing more than a popularity contest'

Golfing sensation Rory McIlroy has claimed that he forgot that the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award was even on this year, despite making the six-person nomination list.

The nomination shortlist consisted of Stuart Broad (Cricket), Frankie Dettori (Horse Racing), Mary Earps (Football), Alfie Hewett (Wheelchair Tennis), Katarina Johnson-Thompson (Athletics), and McIlroy (Golf).

A golf winner of the award has not been seen since Sir Nick Faldo in 1989, after his Masters title. McIlroy previously finished second in 2014, being beaten by Lewis Hamilton that same year.

This year's ceremony was held in Salford, and the award was eventually won by Lioness goalkeeper Mary Earps for her exploits with the England women's team.

It is expected that if one doesn't make the ceremony, they record a video for the broadcast, but the Holywood native did neither and admitted that he hadn't even remembered that he was nominated for the award.

"Whenever I saw the results, I forgot I was nominated. So that’s how much I think about it,’ he said.

The decision to award Earps the award came under fire from other members of the public. Broadcaster and journalist Piers Morgan argued: "Last year, Beth Mead was the deserved winner because the Lionesses won the Euros, but this year they lost the World Cup Final and failed to qualify for the Olympics. Many men are more deserving," he said on his show.

While others defended Earps' win, one person said at the time, "It’s sports “personality” of the year. Maybe the general public prefers Mary’s personality!"

McIlroy, adding his take on the award, said it was nothing more than a "popularity contest."

“Look, it’s a popularity contest, and I think it’s just not really what it once was," McIlroy added on Wednesday before the start of the Dubai Desert Classic, a tournament he won in 2023.

On the playing side, play began and McIlroy had a disappointing start to his Dubai Desert Classic title defence, finishing Day 1 with a 71 after bogeying three of his last four holes at the Emirates Golf Club. China's Li Haotong leads with a five-under 67, one shot ahead of a group at four-under, including Adrian Meronk, Nicolai Hojgaard, and Callum Shinkwin.

McIlroy began strong with birdies on the back nine but struggled with a three-bogey stretch on the front, ending the day one stroke behind. Tom McKibbin posted an even par 72, while Padraig Harrington carded a one-over par 73. Tommy Fleetwood, last weekend's Dubai Invitational winner, matched McIlroy's opening 71.