It seems as if The Open Championship is home to historic collapses. Of course, there was Jean van de Velde in 1999. All he needed was a double bogey or better on the final hole to win. He made triple.
Today, Adam Scott entered the final round of the Open with a 4 shot lead. The rest of the field stumbled early and Scott’s lead grew to 5 shots. And, all the while, the live play betting odds reflected the increasing likelihood that Scott would win his first major.
But let’s back up a bit.
At the start of the today’s round, Adam Scott was -130 to win the tournament. Scott’s lead shrunk to just 3 shots after a few holes but, despite that, his odds to win increased to -230 because Tiger Woods was fading. Then Scott got his 4 shot lead back. And after 7 holes, Scott was -460 to win the tournament. His odds bounced between -460 and -700 for the next hour or so until he birdied the 14th hole. Then, Scott’s odds jumped to -7000. Those odds imply Scott had a 98% chance to win the tournament.
The tournament was over, it seemed. Even statistics guru Ken Pomeroy declared the event over.
But then it wasn’t over.
Adam Scott bogeyed 15. Then he bogeyed 16. And right after that, Ernie Els birdied 18 to finish the tournament at -7. Now, Scott was left with a 1 shot lead with 2 holes to play. And then, oh my god, Adam Scott bogeyed 17.
So, less than an hour after having a 4 shot lead, Adam Scott came to the 18th tee needing a par to force a playoff with three-time major winner Ernie Els. He promptly hit his tee shot into a bunker. After a sideways chip out of the sand, Scott knocked his third shot to 10 feet. But the par putt slid by the edge of the hole. No playoff. No major for Scott. But a fourth major for Ernie Else. And a big payday for some savvy bettor.
See, when Scott’s victory looked like a foregone conclusion, some bettor at Betfair found some amazing odds on Ernie Els. Els was offered at 469 to 1 to win the championship. Smartly, the bettor pounced.
He was able to lay $70 at 469 to 1 and, when Els claimed the victory, the bet paid a remarkable $32,830.
Before the final round, Els told reporters that he felt “something special” might happen today. Well, something special did indeed happen today. For Ernie Els. And for the smart Betfair customer who found extremely valuable odds on Els and turned 70 bucks into enough money to buy a nice new car.