Rory McIlroy finished second in the voting for the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year on Sunday.
The award is given annually to the best British athlete, or athlete who resides in the United Kingdom and plays a majority of the sport in the UK. This year's award went to F1 driver Lewis Hamilton.
Paul McGinley, who led Team Europe to a victory at the Ryder Cup, was named Coach of the Year.
McIlroy, who was born in Northern Ireland, was aiming to be the third golfer to win the award. Dai Rees, who was from Wales, became the first golfer to win in 1957, and Nick Faldo won it in 1989.
Related: Top five tournaments of 2014
"It was a phenomenal year. There are so many people in this room, but the common denominator in people who are the best at what they do is hard work," McIlroy said on the BBC broadcast before Hamilton won the award.
"This was the trophy (the Claret Jug) I dreamed of winning as a little boy, to have my mother there was special. It makes me a little emotional. It was a special moment and one I'll cherish for the rest of my life.
"I'll let people make comparisons to Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. I'm just trying to win as many majors as I can and see where that takes me."
Fellow Northern Irishman Darren Clarke was twice a runner-up for the award, most recently in 2011.
McIlroy made his case by winning the Open Championship in July, PGA Championship in August, playing for the winning Ryder Cup Team Europe and was named the PGA of America Player of the Year and received the Vardon Trophy.
Related: Best of PGA.com Instagram in 2014
McGinley is the second Ryder Cup Captain to win the award, following Colin Montgomerie who won it in 2010. McGinley is now undefeated in all six Ryder Cups he has competed in as either a player, Captain or Vice Captain.
"I'm very, very honored," McGinley said on the broadcast. "I need to thank the people of Scotland. Your support was huge. I had 12 great players, 12 great personalities and a great backroom team and vice captains."
Ryder Cup Team Europe was up for the Team of the Year Award, but lost to the English women's rugby team.