Hot or Not 2014 – Rory McIlroy off the scale in a magnificent year

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What a year 2014 has been! We’ve had England winning another rugby union World Cup, an English driver claiming a second Formula 1 world title, a sell out crowd witnessing one of the most hotly anticipated bouts in British boxing history and Manchester City claiming a second Premier League title.

But as the months have gone by there have been moments of both genius and madness (sometimes at the same time), in equal measure.

With individual successes and failures fresh in our minds we take a look back at who was hot and who was not in 2014.

Hot

Rory McIlroy

He may have been pipped by Lewis Hamilton for the Sports Personality of the Year gong, but Rory tops our list.

Two major wins and an integral display as part of a winning Ryder Cup team puts the Ulsterman at the top of the pile for us, all after splitting from tennis star Caroline Wozniacki (maybe she should be a contender for this instead).

We’re backing him to become only the sixth player to land the Grand Slam and win the Masters in 2015 at 4/1.

AP McCoy

The Champ. Two words that sum up another of Northern Ireland’s finest making our list.

McCoy, not content on resting on his laurels having racked up 4,000 victories in 2013, went on to bypass Martin Pipe’s record of 4,191 winners this year.

He also broke his own best of recording the fastest century of victories in a season, that proceeded by being crowned Champion Jump Jockey for the 19th year in a row.

On The Record provided McCoy with an aptly named winner at Uttoxeter…

Michael Garcia

Not a sportsman, but nearly did a major favour for the world of football.

Appointed to investigate the curious awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar by FIFA, and all but confirmed what we expected about the governing body of the biggest sport in the world…

But in true Blatter style, Garcia appeared to be hushed when his ‘findings’ were not published in full, leading to his resignation.

Not

Luis Suarez

Surely you didn’t think we would start with anyone else?!

The madcap Uruguayan stole the headlines for the wrong reasons at the World Cup this summer when fancying some Chiellini-steak.

The now-Barca striker went down holding his mouth like his dentist had attempted extraction without anaesthetic, but we all knew the truth and his four month ban followed.

Ben Flower

It’s amazing how, like Suarez, a moment of madness can ruin a sportsman’s season.

Less than two minutes had passed when the Wigan prop took offence to a charge from St Helens’ Lance Hohaia.

The initial shot was well-executed, if not a bit naughty, but the second blow laid upon his stricken foe was simply inexcusable.

This wouldn’t have been out of place at Froch/Groves II…

Kevin Pietersen

He book, released this year, in which he aired his dirty laundry about his previous team-mates was described as tarnishing an era of English cricket by Alastair Cook.

Pietersen, while claims of a ‘bullying culture’ cannot be ignored, appeared to be hell bent on attacking the likes of Graeme Swann, Matt Prior and Jimmy Anderson.

Yet, when calls were made for Pietersen’s media chum Piers Morgan to stop attacking the players in question on Twitter, he reportedly said they needed a thicker skin. Hypocritical? Perhaps.

KP ended his book with the line “Am I bitter? No, and no again.” Well from the fall-out, we’d suggest otherwise.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.