Rory McIlroy has won the Association of Golf Writers trophy, joining Seve Ballesteros and Lee Westwood as the only golfers in the long history of the prestigious award to win it on three separate occasions.
The 26 year old, a runaway winner in 2012 and last year, was a narrow victor on this occasion, just edging Britain and Ireland’s Walker Cup team, who pulled off a record 16.5-9.5 triumph over America’s leading amateurs at Royal Lytham and St Annes in September.
Third place went to Englishman Andy Sullivan following his wonderful breakthrough campaign on the European Tour when, alongside McIlroy, he was the only three-time winner.
McIlroy’s tremendous performance in winning the season-ending DP World Tour Championship to claim the Race to Dubai was clearly the clinching factor, and the Northern Irishman was delighted to receive the news in Dublin yesterday.
"When you think of the contributions that Seve and Lee made to European golf over the years, I am delighted to be linked with them at such an early age, and clearly I’m hoping to do enough to win the AGW trophy in future years as well,’ said McIlroy.
"Winning in Dubai again meant a huge amount to me and enabled me to look at the year as a whole in a different light. It has also given me that bit of momentum going into next season. I’d also like to congratulate our Walker Cup team as well on their stunning success. It must have been a very difficult decision for the golf writers."
The AGW trophy, started in 1951, seeks to award the person or persons, born or resident in Europe, who have made the most outstanding contribution to golf over the previous 12 months. Mcilroy became just the fourth golfer to win it in consecutive years, following Tony Jacklin (1969 and 1970), Peter Oosterhuis (1973 and 1974) and Padraig Harrington (2007 and 2008).
Derek Lawrenson, golf correspondent of the Daily Mail and Chairman of the AGW, said: "This was the closest vote we’ve seen for the AGW Trophy in over a decade and while you get the feeling that come the end of his career this will not go down as one of Rory’s great seasons, the fact is he still won four times worldwide, which made him a worthy recipient. No golfer has ever won the AGW Trophy four times but, given his age and ability, this will surely prove to be one more European record Rory will hold in the not too distant future.'