The BBC Has Shown Its Distain For Golf Once Again With Fitzpatrick SPOTY Snub

The US Open champion has been left out of the SPOTY nominations, but it's no surprise

Matt Fitzpatrick pictured
(Image credit: Getty Images)

We need to stop doing this to ourselves. A golfer would need to win the Grand Slam, and then hole the winning putt in a Ryder Cup year, to have a chance of getting on the podium of the Sports Personality of The Year awards.

This year Matt Fitzpatrick is the latest casualty, in the very loosest sense, after he wasn’t short-listed for the main prize. This came as no surprise as it continues a long-running theme of golfers missing out on an award that generally suits individual sports.

Two golfers have won the now affectionately-titled 'SPOTY' - Dai Rees in 1957 and Sir Nick Faldo in 1989. The latter edged out Frank Bruno who fought once that year when he lasted just under three rounds against Mike Tyson.

Darren Clarke was latterly pipped by Zara Phillips, riding Toytown, Rory McIlroy came close in 2014 after winning a pair of Majors while Seve Ballesteros has landed a pair of Lifetime Achievement awards.

Colin Montgomerie and Paul McGinley have both won the ‘coach award’, something that only started out in 1999, for their Ryder Cup leadership while any normal coach, like a Pete Cowen, has never had a look in.

The World Sports Star award has been very kind to golf with nine, all men, winning the gong. Team wise the European Ryder Cup outfit has, relatively speaking, dazzled but that’s as far as we go. You might argue that Sky Sports showing all the live golf these days has changed things but that would be pushing it.

If we go back to 2016 then we get a very clear idea of how the voting goes. Danny Willett landed The Masters and, for his troubles, gathered just over two thousand votes. Andy Murray topped the voting with nearly a quarter of a million while Alistair Brownlee had 120,000 punters picking up the phone or emailing in.

This was The Masters, where your non-golfing fans will routinely tune in on a Sunday night, so a US Open golf winner has no chance - although last year's US Open tennis winner Emma Raducanu did go on to win the main award.

Georgia Hall, who won the Women’s British Open the same year as Danny Willett, was given fewer than 15 seconds, showing only the winning tap-in putt at Royal Lytham & St Annes, and never said a word. 

Had Rory won at St Andrews then he might have slipped into the top six but that’s as far as it would probably go.

This year’s extravaganza will be beamed into our living rooms on a Wednesday evening. Long gone are the days of the warm and fuzzy pre-Christmas Sunday evening with Des Lynam at the controls, now it’s been abbreviated to SPOTY and the only guarantee is that there will be flashing lights and a general lack of any depth to anything. All our yesterdays gone in a blaze of some indoor pyrotechnics. 

None of this matters of course. You don’t suppose that Fitzpatrick’s mind will have flashed to this December get-together when he got the job done at Brookline.   

If you do want a bit of context then 1966 was a blinder even by ‘SPOTY’ standards. Geoff Hurst, who found the back of the net in a World Cup final at Wembley just five months earlier, was edged into third by New Zealand speedway rider Barry Briggs.

Mark Townsend
Contributing editor

Mark has worked in golf for over 20 years having started off his journalistic life at the Press Association and BBC Sport before moving to Sky Sports where he became their golf editor on He then worked at National Club Golfer and Lady Golfer where he was the deputy editor and he has interviewed many of the leading names in the game, both male and female, ghosted columns for the likes of Robert Rock, Charley Hull and Dame Laura Davies, as well as playing the vast majority of our Top 100 GB&I courses. He loves links golf with a particular love of Royal Dornoch and Kingsbarns. He is now a freelance, also working for the PGA and Robert Rock. Loves tour golf, both men and women and he remains the long-standing owner of an horrific short game. He plays at Moortown with a handicap of 6.