Rory McIlroy named European Tour golfer of the year

Rory McIlroy has claimed the Race to Dubai crown three times in four years. David Cannon/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy has been named the European Tour's golfer of the year, claiming the award for the third time in four years.

The world No. 3, whose season was severely disrupted by an ankle injury this summer, claimed three European titles in 2015, including a thrilling victory at the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai last month, where he successfully defended his Race to Dubai crown.

McIlroy finished the season 1,056,943 points ahead of nearest rival Danny Willett in the Race to Dubai, becoming only the seventh player in the history of the Tour to claim the year-end European No.1 spot in consecutive campaigns.

"It is a huge honour for me to be named European Tour golfer of the year again," McIlroy told the European Tour's official website. "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.

"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 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."

Dubai proved a fruitful hunting ground for McIlroy in 2015, with his first victory of the season coming at the Dubai Desert Classic, while his second of the campaign came across the Atlantic at the WGC-Cadillac Match Play.

The Northern Irishman then suffered a serious ankle injury while playing football with friends in July, ruling him out of the Scottish Open and the defence of his Open Championship crown at St Andrews.

After an intense period of rehabilitation, McIlroy returned to action just five weeks later, by which time Willett had cut his Race to Dubai lead to just 1,613 points. However, McIlroy shook off the pressure to claim the season finale by a single shot from another Englishman, Andy Sullivan, on the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates last month.