Belfast Telegraph

Fans rally behind Rory McIlroy after BBC Sports Personality of the Year award shock

By Harriet Crawford

Rory McIlroy has won almost everything on offer in the world of golf this past year.

But one award still eludes him - and yesterday questions were being asked why the Co Down golfing star failed to win the 2014 BBC Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY).

His hometown rallied to his defence yesterday, in dismay at his defeat in Sunday's televised public vote.

In addition to ending the year as the world No.1, McIlroy won two Majors - The Open and the USPGA - and played a key role in securing Europe's Ryder Cup victory at Gleneagles.

He also lifted some of golf's other much-coveted titles including the BMW PGA Championship and the Race to Dubai.

People from McIlroy's native Holywood were left wondering if this year's long list of stellar triumphs wasn't enough to win over voters, what is?

Fans of the golfer - including colleagues and supporters from Stormont - were perplexed and outraged when he was beaten by Lewis Hamilton.

The public - whose votes determine the outcome - did not turn out for him in the expected numbers. Hamilton received nearly double the 123,745 votes that were cast for McIlroy.

After his stunning summer of victories, the golfer was the bookmakers' odds-on favourite. He peaked at 1/6 with Paddy Power, who rated Hamilton as a 10/3 outsider.

Peter McMillen paused his round of golf on McIlroy's home golf course at Holywood to tell the Belfast Telegraph: "I think Rory is so into golf that I think it is his next tournament that he is concerned about as opposed to the result.

"Rory does his talking on the golf course - how much more does he have to do? He is not English, he's from Northern Ireland. Maybe that had to do with it."

Other local fans have also wondered how much nationality had to play in the outcome. McIlroy has said he will compete for Ireland at the Olympics, while Hamilton is British.

Eileen Cheyne of Holywood said that McIlroy's chances might have been damaged by Hamilton "playing the Union Jack card".

Stephen Crooks, head professional at Holywood Golf Club, said: "I was shocked. I and every bookmaker thought Rory was favourite. Northern Ireland has a small population compared to England. I think it is just from being from Northern Ireland. If he had been English, he might have won. If it was Justin Rose winning like Rory did, he would have beaten Lewis Hamilton."

Matt Jones, one of the teaching professionals at Lough Erne Golf Club, did not think nationality was to blame for McIlroy's second place: "I'm English myself living over here and I don't think it was down to him being from Northern Ireland that stopped him winning."

Peter Millar, a member of Holywood Golf Club, said that McIlroy could still win in the future.

"I just don't know why he didn't win over people more. But he is more focused on playing golf than winning personality prizes - I suppose it would be another nice thing to win but he has plenty of opportunities to win; he's young."

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