Matt Fitzpatrick 'Politely Declines' SPOTY Invite As Golfers Don't Win BBC Award

Only two golfers have ever won the BBC SPOTY award, with Rory McIlroy missing out twice despite hugely successful years

Matt Fitzpatrick holds up the US Open trophy at Brookline
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Matt Fitzpatrick has reportedly “politely declined” the offer to attend this year’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY) awards due to the lack of previous success for golfers.

Fitzpatrick was a brilliant winner of the US Open at Brookline earlier this year, and could well end the season as European number one as he contends for the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

After also going close at the PGA Championship, Fitzpatrick could rightly be thought of as golf’s main contender to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award this year.

However, even though such displays should get Fitzpatrick on the shortlist for invitations to the big SPOTY show, The Telegraph is reporting that the he has “politely declined” the offer of attending.

The reasoning is that, apart from being a 150-1 outsider to win the award, golfers are rarely recognised at the SPOTY awards, with only two players from the sport ever winning the first prize.

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Why don't golfers win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award?

Sir Nick Faldo was the last to do so, winning the SPOTY in 1989 after winning his first Masters title, while Dai Rees won 32 years earlier for captaining Great Britain to their first ever Ryder Cup victory.

Darren Clarke finished as runner-up twice – firstly behind Zara Phillips in 2006 after he bravely competed, and played superbly, at the Ryder Cup in Ireland just after the tragic death of his wife Heather.

The Northern Irishman then finished second behind Mark Cavendish in 2011 – when he became the second oldest winner of the Open Championship with his emotional win at St George's aged 42.

Luke Donald finished fourth that year after becoming World No. 1 and winning the BMW PGA Championship, while Justin Rose finished ninth out of 10 shortlisted candidates when he won the 2013 US Open.

And if Rory McIlroy can’t win SPOTY after some of the years he’s had, then there’s no wonder Fitzpatrick feels golfers just aren’t suited to the voters that proclaim the winners.

Rory McIlroy at the 2014 BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The popular McIlroy finished eighth in 2011 when he became the youngest US Open winner since 1923, with a record dominant display at Congressional – all just a couple of months after that disastrous Masters meltdown at Augusta.

The London 2012 Olympics scuppered McIlroy as he finished eighth again in the voting despite a monumental year which few players have ever matched – winning the PGA Championship and becoming the youngest player with two Majors since Seve Ballesteros, being a huge part of Europe’s colossal Ryder Cup comeback in the Miracle of Medinah – and also becoming World No. 1 and winning the money list titles on both the PGA and then-European Tour.

And if that’s not enough to convince Fitzpatrick that perhaps golfers don’t get a fair crack of the whip, McIlroy was then beaten into second by Lewis Hamilton in 2014 despite winning back-to-back Majors at The Open and PGA and also retaining the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.

Yorkshireman Fitzpatrick is one of the most down to earth players you can meet, and likes to shy away from the limelight - and he may have a point in deciding not to attend.

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Paul Higham

Paul Higham is a sports journalist with over 20 years of experience in covering most major sporting events for both Sky Sports and BBC Sport. He is currently freelance and covers the golf majors on the BBC Sport website.  Highlights over the years include covering that epic Monday finish in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor and watching Rory McIlroy produce one of the most dominant Major wins at the 2011 US Open at Congressional. He also writes betting previews and still feels strangely proud of backing Danny Willett when he won the Masters in 2016 - Willett also praised his putting stroke during a media event before the Open at Hoylake. Favourite interviews he's conducted have been with McIlroy, Paul McGinley, Thomas Bjorn, Rickie Fowler and the enigma that is Victor Dubuisson. A big fan of watching any golf from any tour, sadly he spends more time writing about golf than playing these days with two young children, and as a big fair weather golfer claims playing in shorts is worth at least five shots. Being from Liverpool he loves the likes of Hoylake, Birkdale and the stretch of tracks along England's Golf Coast, but would say his favourite courses played are Kingsbarns and Portrush.