Golf Today - Over 80000 pages of golf information
Golf News

Sandwich again feeds the underdog
Darren Clarke made not only himself but many bookmakers very happy with his win in the Open Championship. And now he's the early favourite to be named BBC Sports Personality of the Year

First, Ben Curtis at 750-1, next up Darren Clarke at 200-1. No wonder the bookies are voting for every Open Championship to be played at Royal St George’s.

Well, golfers don’t win their first major at 42, do they? Tom Kite was the last first-timer to do so at Pebble Beach in 1992, and Roberto de Vicenzo beat the pair of them at Hoylake in 1967, aged 44-and-a-bit.

So not only an unusual result but a great one for the bookies and also for those comfortably upholstered types who don’t believe in all that keep-fit rubbish and prefer Guinness to Perrier.

Among the gimmicks to tempt punters this year, Victor Chandler treated anyone who holed-in-one - as Dustin Johnson did here at the 16th on Thursday - as Open Champion, and paid out accordingly

William Hill reported that one punter had £50 each-way on Dazzler at 175-1 but that the Northern Irishman had gone largely unbacked, resulting in an Open windfall of around £1 million for the firm.

Ladbrokes were equally jubilant, heralding Sandwich as one of their best-ever Opens, although they did lay one high-roller a £75,000 whopper on Clarke at 5-2 in-running on the final day.

It was the year the bookies really competed for the pound in the punter’s pocket, Irish firm Boylesports even paying out each-way on the first eight finishers, just to annoy rivals Paddy Power who went up with seven places before them.

That wasn’t the only gimmick. Victor Chandler treated any player who holed-in-one as Open champion as far as bets were concerned, so the punter who optimistically placed £50 on Tom Watson at 500-1 to win his sixth claret jug at the age of 61 collected 25 grand just because the old fellow pulled that wonder shot out of the hat at the 6th on the Friday.

Watson wasn’t the only one: Dustin Johnson aced the 16th on the first day, so all those punters who had backed the big-hitting American at 66-1 and 50-1 with Chandler got paid out on the win part of their bet as well as the place part which he won them more legitimately for his share of second place.

“It was a pretty expensive offer,” admitted spokesman Charles McCann a little ruefully. “We weren’t expecting two payouts but every cloud has a silver lining and somebody had £20,000 at 4-6 about there being no hole-in-one, which softened the blow a bit.”

With Northern Ireland providing the winners of the game’s two most important majors, it wasn’t surprising that the bookmakers, looking ahead, put an Irish spin on things for 2012, with Bet365 offering 200-1 about all four majors falling to the country that, with Graeme McDowell’s US Open triumph the year before, spawned three of the last six major champions. All four isn’t going to happen but it’s a nice thought considering the size of Northern Ireland. Paddy Power go 33-1 that the Northern Irish Slam is going to be completed by victory in the current year’s USPGA plus next year's Masters.

And what about Clarke? He’s 20-1 with Bet365 to win a major of any sort next year but the next major event (well, it’s pretty major to the BBC, who haven’t got much else in sport) he’s likely to win is the BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

Having been strongly fancied to win it on sentiment after the emotional Ryder Cup scenes at the K Club in the year he lost his wife – he got pipped by Zara Phillips – Darren is now odds-on to claim the prize five years later.

Clarke’s victory certainly came as a SPOTY shock to the Rory McIlroy supporter who had placed £12,000 on the young buck at 2-5 after the US Open. McIlroy is no longer the favourite but it does look a two-horse race, with Clarke around 4-6 and McIlroy at 7-4, the pair a long way clear of athlete Jessica Ennis (14-1), cyclist Mark Cavendish (20-1), tennis ace Andy Murray (25-1) and Test cricketer Alastair Cook (50-1).

The only danger is that Clarke and McIlroy will not only split the golf vote (as Westwood and McDowell did last year when jockey Tony McCoy won) but also the Irish vote. But with nobody obviously coming up on the blind side, this really does look golf's year – and not before time.

Not since Sir Nicholas Faldo got his hands on the trophy 22 years ago has our game been recognised and it was 32 years before him that Dai Rees, the winning Ryder Cup captain at Lindrick, was so honoured. So it’s time to do something about the fact that there have been only two golf winners since the award teed off in 1954. Even Tony Jacklin could finish only runner-up to Wimbledon tennis queen Ann Jones after winning the 1969 Open. If it's not three after December 19, we golfing aficionados have only ourselves to blame – it's the sporting public that decides.

For those of you reading this before the year's final major tees off in Atlanta on August 11, you can have 90-1 about a quick follow-up from Clarke and 10-1 about McIlroy bagging his second big one of the year. Other best prices are as follows: 12-1 Mickelson; 14-1 Westwood; 16-1 Donald and Woods; 20 Kaymer; 25 Dustin Johnson; 33-1 Stricker, Garcia, Watney; 35-1 Kuchar; 40-1 Day, Schwartzel; 45-1 Fowler; 50-1 Scott, B Watson, Mahan, McDowell; 66-1 Harrington, Kim, Poulter; 70-1 Goosen, Manassero; 80-1 Casey; 100-1 Els, Ogilvy, O'Hair, Quiros, Karlsson, Furyk.

August 2011

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine


Golf International Magazine subscription offer

© 1996-2018 - Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy - About Us - Advertise - Classifieds - Newsletter - Contact Us