Rory McIlroy might be golf's tog dog (in Europe at least) but he's not averse to making fun of himself. It's not quite the dog cone that most mutts need after an operation but the world No 3 won't be scratching his eyes accidentally in his sleep after undergoing laser eye surgery on Wednesday.
Like many top players — Padraig Harrington had his eyes done several times — McIlroy is looking to make sure he can see as well as possible and so miss nothing on the greens. Whether it makes a difference or not, time will tell. But McIlroy is clearly not afraid to look silly on the internet, putting up an Instagram selfie of his eye protectors.
"Human version of the dreaded K-9 cone.... Only for sleeping though! Laser eye surgery went well yesterday," McIlroy wrote.
As for his latest award, McIlroy’s victory in the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai – which helped secure a third Race to Dubai crown in four years – has earned the Northern Irishman the Hilton European Tour Golfer of the Month award for November.
McIlroy’s affinity for Dubai, and in particular the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates, was once again in evidence as he edged a thrilling final round duel with Andy Sullivan to claim The European Tour’s season finale for the second time, following his victory in 2012, and with it the Harry Vardon Trophy.
The World Number Three entered the last day with a one stroke deficit to Sullivan, but ultimately held off the Englishman’s challenge courtesy of a closing round of 66 which included a “career-best” bogey at the par three 17th hole where, after his tee shot had found the greenside lake, McIlroy maintained his lead in dramatic fashion with a putt from 30 feet.
With his win, McIlroy, who has now finished outside the top five just once in seven appearances in the DP World Tour Championship, became the seventh player to be crowned Europe’s Number One in back-to-back years, and the fifth – after Colin Montgomerie (eight), Seve Ballesteros (six), Peter Oosterhuis and Sandy Lyle (both three) – to win the money list three or more times.
McIlroy, who receives Hilton HHonors Diamond Elite Status – the highest tier of the hotel’s renowned loyalty scheme – for winning the Golfer of the Month award, said: “It really meant a lot to win both the DP World Tour Championship and The Race to Dubai again, especially having had to play so well over the weekend to beat Andy, and winning the Golfer of the Month is now another nice bonus.
“I think it’s the first time I’ve won the Golfer of the Month this year, so it is important to me to be rewarded in this way. I’m glad I saved my best for last and ended the season on a high note. I’m now looking forward to taking some time off before getting ready for next year, and this is a great way to round things off.”
McIlroy was the unanimous choice of the Golfer of the Month panel, who met at Hilton’s Jumeirah Beach Hotel in Dubai, and who awarded second place to Frenchman Victor Dubuisson for his victory in the Turkish Airlines Open, a tournament he first won in 2013.
Third place went to Sweden’s Kristoffer Broberg, who claimed his maiden European Tour title in style by beating American Ryder Cup star Patrick Reed in a play-off at the BMW Masters.
There were also honourable mentions for Sullivan, who pushed McIlroy all the way in Dubai in his bid to secure a fourth European Tour win of the season; his fellow Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick, who took his tally of top tens to ten with tied fourth and joint seventh finishes in the DP World Tour Championship and the WGC-HSBC Champions respectively; and Korean Byeong Hun An, whose remarkable consistency in the Final Series was underlined by a top 20 finish in the WGC-HSBC Champions, and top five finishes in both the BMW Masters and the DP World Tour Championship.
McIlroy joins Race to Dubai runner-up Danny Willett (December and July), Gary Stal (January), Anirban Lahiri (February), Richie Ramsay (March), Wu Ashun (April), An (May), Alex Noren (June), Shane Lowry (August), Lee Slattery (September) and Fitzpatrick (October) as the contenders for The 2015 European Tour Golfer of the Year award.
In addition to members of the golfing media who voted for McIlroy, fans of ‘My European Tour’ were also involved in the award, with the new format allowing them to vote at www.europeantour.com and try to match the expert panel’s top three for November.