Published Sunday, 16 December 2012
Andy Murray after winning the US Open. (© Getty)
The winner of the title is due to be decided by the public on Sunday evening.
Holywood golfer McIlroy is the only non-Olympian among the 12 nominees in what has been a bumper year of sporting success.
He's considered to be a rank outsider for SPOTY, even though he is the reigning world number one in his sport and won the US PGA Championship this year - his second major - and was part of Europe's winning Ryder Cup team.
The 23-year-old tweeted that he will not be in London for the awards ceremony but said his vote goes to Scottish tennis star Andy Murray.
Murray made history in 2012 when he ended Britain's 76-year wait for a men's Grand Slam champion by beating Novak Djokovic to clinch the US Open title in New York.
The world number three also won Olympic gold and reached the final of Wimbledon.
Murray has been viewed as one of the front runners for the award, alongside Olympic heroes Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis, and Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins.
Nicola Adams, Ben Ainslie, Katherine Grainger, Sir Chris Hoy, Ellie Simmonds, Sarah Storey and David Weir are also on the shortlist.
The programme will be shown on BBC One from 7.30pm.