No sooner had Lewis Hamilton roared past the chequered flag in Abu Dhabi yesterday to become the Formula One world champion for the second time in his career than the calls for him to be anointed BBC Sports Personality of the Year began in breathless earnest.
“Lewis for #SPOTY” wrote one Twitter user. Another contended that if the 29-year-old from Stevenage doesn’t win the award in Glasgow next month it will be a ‘travesty’ (easy now), whilst yet another tweet endorsed Hamilton for the famous trophy, rhetorically asking: ‘Any other contenders?’
Which is all well, good and completely predictable. Except that there is another contender.
Some people, it would seem, appear to have forgotten what an extraordinary year the Northern Irishman has had. Coming in off the back of a 2013 that promised so much and delivered so frustratingly little, McIlroy won the BMW PGA Championship in May, in the same week that he announced his split from his fiancée, Caroline Wozniacki. Apart from anything else, that performance at Wentworth showed remarkable resolve and strength of character.
The foundations of Hamilton's world championship victory were laid by having the best and fastest car in F1 this year... Rory's McIlroy's success was down to him and him alone.
It also set him up for a spectacular summer, during which he cantered to victory in the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, bagged his first World Golf Championship at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and claimed the fourth major of his career at the PGA Championship, holding off Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson down the stretch at Valhalla. In addition to that, he was second a further five times and had seven other top ten finishes.
All of this helped him comfortably reposition himself as world No.1 and top both the Race To Dubai and PGA Tour money list. He also played a key role in Europe’s successful Ryder Cup defence.
No disrespect whatsoever to Lewis Hamilton, below, but the foundations of his world championship victory were laid by having the best and fastest car in F1 this year. No doubt he’s a great driver but his success had as much to do with innovative engineering and good mechanics as it did Hamilton’s ability behind the steering wheel.
Rory’s success, however, was down to him and him alone.
The BBC Sports Personality of the Year award has done golf a disservice over the past few years - read this for more on that - but next month’s ceremony ought to change all that, so long as the voting public recognises McIlroy’s achievements for what they are: unmatched, beyond compare and truly extraordinary.
Rory McIlroy for #BBCSPOTY?
Do you agree with Michael McEwan that there is no better a candidate for BBC Sports Personality of the Year than Rory McIlroy, or do you think there is another deserving candidate? Leave your thoughts in our 'Comments' section below.