Northern Ireland golfers Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy were among the award winners at the 2012 Laureus Sports Awards in London.
Clarke, 43, won the Comeback of the Year award for his memorable victory in the Open Championship at Sandwich.
His compatriot McIlroy picked up the Breakthrough honour in recognition of his eight-shot win at the US Open.
"It was a great year to win my first major and to get into the top three in the world rankings," said McIlroy.
"I think 2012 is going to be a really exciting year.
"I'd love to back up my US Open win with another major this year, and hopefully try and get to number one."
Clarke, who is currently ranked 55 in the world, was delighted to collect another award.
"I was going to say earlier when I was up there (on stage) accepting it, I have been the oldest person to receive the award," he said.
"I believe it has been a long time coming and I have worked very hard and eventually got there.
"For me the Open Championship is the biggest and best tournament in the world and I feel very fortunate that I got there in the end."
Serbian tennis star Novac Djokovic was named overall sportsman of the year with Kenyan athlete Vivian Cheruiyot, who won the 5,000 and 10,000 metres titles at the world championships last year, taking the sportswoman's award.
Barcelona were named team of the year after winning La Liga and the Champions League while Sir Bobby Charlton won the Lifetime Achievement award.
The Manchester United legend was unable to attend Monday's awards after falling ill on Sunday and undergoing minor surgery in Manchester on Monday, organisers Laureus said.