Rory McIlroy is most definitely on the A plus list in sport these days. He's up in the same stratosphere as Lionel Messi, Roger Federer and Usain Bolt. Some going for the cool kid with the curly hair from Holywood in County Down.
In the 2005 Belfast Telegraph Sports awards, Rory was Young Player of the Year. A few years later he won the George Best Breakthrough prize at the glittering ceremony and completed a unique treble in 2009 by claiming our premier award, the Sports Star of the Year trophy.
The outrageously talented 23-year-old has done it again — he now has two Belfast Telegraph Sports Star of the Year prizes to go with his two major titles.
Amid fierce competition for the 2012 award, golfing great McIlroy came out on top after having a brilliant year on the fairways and greens around the world.
Not only did he finish top of the money list in Europe, he finished top in the United States — a superb feat helping him become the world number one.
Rory enjoyed five tournament victories in 2012 and this in a year when some cast doubts over the Ulsterman's ability to fulfil his potential.
For the record those victories came in the Honda Classic in Florida in March, back-to-back FedEx Cup playoff events the Deutsche Bank Championship and BMW Championship in September and the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai in November thanks to five birdies in the last five holes.
Best of all though was his second major, the US PGA Championship at Kiawah Island when he blitzed a world class field to win by a record breaking eight shots in August. McIlroy was breathtaking in his final round shooting a 66 confirming that when he is on top of his game, nobody can touch him.
Sometimes he doesn't even need a proper warm-up as he showed in the Ryder Cup at Medinah. He just about made it in time for his singles battle with Keegan Bradley before playing some sensational golf to claim a crucial point in Europe’s brilliant win against American.
Rory has become such an iconic figure in modern day sport. He has travelled a long way and the journey is far from over.
With so many outstanding performances by Northern Ireland's sporting stars in 2012, the judges felt they could not limit the shortlist for the Sports Star of the Year award to just four. Here's a rundown on all those who deserved their nominations for our top award.
Boxers Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan won Olympic bronze medals in the ring. Rower Alan Campbell took home the same colour of medal at London 2012 while Richard and Peter Chambers both have silver medals to cherish.
Michael McKillop and Jason Smyth each won two gold medals on the track at the Paralympics in London, where Bethany Firth secured gold in the swimming pool.
Away from the Olympics and Paralympics, Tony McCoy continued his incredible run of success by winning his 17th jockeys’ title and the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Synchronised to complete another thrilling season.
Portrush golfer Stephanie Meadow holed the winning putt in the Curtis Cup as Great Britain and Ireland beat a fancied American side and she followed up by triumphing in the much sought-after British Amateur Championship at Carnoustie.
Boxer Brian Magee became the WBA super-middleweight world champion after having his interim title upgraded by the governing body. Magee, hugely well liked in Ulster sporting circles, defeated Denmark's Rudy Markussen early in 2012 but lost his world title late in the year to another great Dane, Mikkel Kessler, ending a memorable 38-day reign as champion.
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