Betting on the 2008 British Open

Written by:
Alistair Prescott
Published on:
Sergio Garcia has been stressing just how big betting on the 2008 British Open really is.  It's the biggest single betting event in the United Kingdom and that alone should have online bookmakers excited.  Last year's win by Ireland's own - Padraig Harrington - caused a major dent in Paddy Power's financials during the 3rd quarter.  Paddy is Ireland's biggest bookmaker.

Padraig Harrington's British Open victory cost Paddy its biggest ever payout, at €5m.

Without Tiger Woods playing at the 2008 British Open, none of the bookmakers can correctly predict who will win (not that they could last year).  As such, the favorite - Sergio Garcia - is listed with odds of 10/1 at one of the UK's largest and most successful online gambling firms - Bet365.

Ernie Els came in with 11/1 odds; Lee Westwood 16/1; Phil Michelson 16/1 and last year's winner - Padraig Harrington - had odds of 20/1, promising yet another substantial payout of €2000 for every $100 bet
In Great Britain, betting on sports is legal and readily accessible since there is a bookmaker on practically every corner, though most Brits will be placing bets online.  The golfers themselves are known to place bets on themselves.

None bigger than two-time Open champion Lee Trevino, according to Bob Harig of

For years, a story floated about that Trevino won more money betting on himself to win than he did for first prize.

Not exactly true, but a good tale nonetheless. It relates to his 1972 victory at Muirfield, where he held off Jack Nicklaus a year after the Merry Mex got his first Open win, at Royal Troon.

"I made a small amount of money betting on myself," Trevino said in a recent interview. "But here's what happened. I had six couples with me; we all went over from El Paso on the same plane. We ended up renting this house, an old castle that belonged to an antique dealer. We leased it from him and took all the bedrooms. We had this butler named Nicholas, and I remember telling the media that I promised him a lesson. Well, all the headlines the next day said that I promised Nicholas a lesson. But it was spelled different. They thought I meant Jack [Nicklaus].

Paddy Power"In any case, when we got there, my odds were like 14-1. I bet 100 pounds. But all the other guys bet a lot of money. I didn't play very well the first round, and my odds went up. So we bet again. And I ended up winning. That night, I invited a bunch of people over to that castle -- including the media -- and everybody was whooping it up. Then about midnight, the local bookmaker comes over with a suitcase full of pounds and paid everybody off. Those guys that came with me made more than I won."

Tiger Woods absence has already impacted British bookmakers - perhaps more than it would have if he were participating. 

He was a 5-2 favorite to win the British Open. Now British-based William Hill lists Ernie Els and Sergio Garcia as betting favorites at 12-1.

Bookmakers are making refunds on wagers that Woods would win two or three majors this year. Those who bet he would win four already have lost. Those who bet he would win one already have won.

Ironically the betting on the British Open actually could increase because the tournament appears to be wide open.
Alistair Prescott,
Originally published July 15, 2008 8:04 pm EST

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