London, Dec 15 (IANS) Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy was on Tuesday named the 2015 European Tour Golfer of the Year, receiving the prestigious award for the third time in four years.
The World No.3 won three times during the 2015 season, including an enthralling victory in the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai last month which ensured he successfully defended his Tour crown — an honour he also claimed for a third time in four years.
McIlroy finished 1,056,943 points clear of his nearest rival, Englishman Danny Willett, becoming only the seventh player in European Tour history to be crowned European Number One in consecutive campaigns.
The 26-year-old has now added The European Tour Golfer of the Year award to his trophy cabinet after a panel consisting of members of the golfing media unanimously voted for him as the 2015 winner.
“It is a huge honour for me to be named European Tour Golfer of the Year again. I feel very proud to have won this prestigious award for the third time — it is always special, no matter how often, to be recognised this way, McIlroy said in a release.
“After a good first half to the season, the injury was obviously a setback for me, so to finish the year strongly with my second victory in Dubai — plus picking up The Race to Dubai (European Tour) title again — was very satisfying.
“This was an objective I successfully fulfilled this season. To now win the Golfer of the Year award, too, is a great way to sign off the year. I am already looking forward to starting the new season and trying to achieve even more in 2016.”
McIlroy’s first victory of 2015 also came in Dubai, at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic — the tournament where he celebrated his maiden European Tour title in 2009 — before he crossed the Atlantic to pick up his second, emerging as the last man standing in the WGC-Cadillac Match Play, defeating American Gary Woodland 4 and 2 in the final at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco.
The four-time Major champion then assumed the role of tournament host for the first time in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at Royal County Down Golf Club, before his season’s momentum was halted when he suffered an ankle injury playing football on the eve of the Scottish Open, which also ruled him out of his British Open Championship defence at St Andrews.
However an intense rehabilitation period saw him return to action just five weeks later, but by the time he reached the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, Willett had cut his advantage at the top of The Race to Dubai to a mere 1,613 points.
With the pressure on, McIlroy saved his best for last, eventually prevailing in the tournament following a titanic final day battle with another Englishman, Andy Sullivan. His one-shot victory on the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates meant he lifted the tournament trophy and Race to Dubai trophy together for the second time having also achieved the double in 2012.