The outrageous legal battle surrounding a £500 bet on Tommy Fleetwood

Boredom Spieth
Boredom Spieth
Boredom Spieth
Contributor

We’ve heard plenty about local boy Tommy Fleetwood and his bid to win the British Open at Royal Birkdale. Have you heard about decade-old bet on Fleetwood that could pay £33,000?

A story this week in the Southport Champion tells the tale of John Murray and a bet he placed on Fleetwood some 15 years ago. In 2007, Murray approached bookmaker William Hill to see if they’d give him odds on Fleetwood winning “an open championship on the PGA Tour.”

William Hill offered Murray 66-1 odds. He wagered £500 to return £33,000, should Fleetwood capture “an open.”

Pretty straightforward stuff, right? Not exactly. Murray contends Fleetwood should be paid out based on any “open” tournament that PGA Tour players can enter. Following this logic, Fleetwood’s win at the French Open should make Murray a much richer man.

William Hill, obviously, didn’t see things that way, contending Murray’s bet was for THE Open and that tournament alone.

“Mr. Murray has since presented his bet to William Hill who have refused to settle the bet,” Murray’s legal counsel said. “They argue that the bet was in respect of The Open Championship and and not any other. Mr. Murray argues that winning ‘an open golf championship’ referred to Mr. Fleetwood attaining first place in any championship which was open to all pro golfers on the PGA Tour.”

Murray’s point that 66-1 odds for just The Open are a bit ridiculous. Remember, Rory McIlroy’s father got 500-1 odds on a 15-year-old Rory McIlroy. The idea that Fleetwood would garner 66-1 relative to one of the greatest golf prodigies in recent memory getting 500-1 is pretty absurd. However, it’s just as possible Murray was so delighted William Hill would take his bet that he accepted it without question.


Either way, if the bet was merely for Fleetwood to win the British Open, it wasn’t a good one. Any reasonable better would expect odds to be closer to 6,600-1 than 66-1.

Unfortunately for Murray, the Independent Betting Adjudication Service has sided with William Hill, but he continues to fight.

As a side note, what do you take “an open championship on the PGA Tour to mean?” The “on the PGA Tour” element would suggest either the British Open or the U.S. Open to most golf fans, no? While Murray’s fight is admirable, it’s not likely one he was ever going to win. In other words, another bad bet.

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