Rory robbed of BBC SPOTY title

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Rory McIlroy lost out to Lewis Hamilton in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award – prompting a torrent of sympathy from players and fans who felt he was hard done by. 

The Formula One world champion polled almost twice as many public votes as 2014's double major champion, despite Rory being the bookies' favourite heading into the evening. 

As soon as the result was announced, McIlroy's fellow players took to social media to discuss the vote. 

Luke Donald tweeted: 'Some amazingly inspirational stories at SPOTY & a great celebration of British sport but not sure the correct winner is always crowned. 

‘Lot of angry people on my timeline... Unfortunately as long as SPOTY continues to be a public vote then this will continue to happen! #Rory’ 

Ian Poulter said: 'Absolutely ridiculous that @McIlroyRory has not won Sports Personality 2014. Huge respect to @LewisHamilton but come on. 

'Relax folks I'm an F1 fan & go to some races & wanted Hamilton to win in AbuDhabi but I feel @McIlroyRory year was better. That's my opinion'

And Lee Westwood, en-route back from his first win in two at the Thailand Golf Championship, added: 'SPOTY technology of the year goes to the silver and red dodgem!!! Just have to win all 4 next year @McIlroyRory!'

Beforehand, Rory was optimistic of becoming the first golfer to win the BBC award since Nick Faldo in 1989. He was well aware the public vote would do no harm for the popularity of the game.

“I know all about participation levels going down and we really do want to get more people back into the game, more young people,” McIlroy said. “Part of it is just how long golf takes. It might have been OK 20 years ago to go and play five hours and leave your phone for that amount of time but now everything is so instant. There’s so much pressure on your time it’s difficult for people to go out and enjoy a game of golf and leave work behind for however many hours.

“I know some people would prefer a shorter version of golf. So yes, maybe it is a good time [for golf’s level of prominence to be raised]. If the wider public see me have success and see a golfer doing this stuff it might spark a wider interest.

“Of course there’s an interest in golf and always will be. But to give it an injection of excitement, like it had early to mid 90s with Faldo doing well, Seve, the Ryder Cup and Tiger Woods suddenly coming into the equation … I’m not saying I’ll have an impact like Tiger had but I’d like to get some kind of excitement back into the game, especially from a UK and Irish perspective.”

 “It would obviously be a huge honour and something that would cap off a great year. It’s a great evening and it’s a nice chance for some of the sports stars to get together, get to know each other and catch up if you haven’t seen them in a while. So I’m really looking forward to the evening.”

Rory is our Player of the Year - read more here