Thursday, July 15, 2010

Losing A Few Pounds Isn't Hard At The Open

Among the many things to love about the Open Championship is the opportunity to bet a few pounds on what's happening on the golf course.

Sports wagering is legal in Scotland and the betting shops -- Ladbrokes and William Hill in particular -- were popular places in the run-up to the start. I'll admit to ducking into a shop once, okay twice, just to do some, uh, basic research on the championship.

I'd heard that Tiger had dropped from a 3/1 favorite last week to a 6/1 favorite by Wednesday night. It was true and suddenly the big man, usually a lousy bet because he's such a heavy favorite, had become a popular pick.

Phil Mickelson was 16/1, the same as Rory McIlroy for whom there seems to be a lovefest this week.

If you're so inclined, you can bet on just about anything related to the Open. You can bet on the low American, the low player from Great Britain and Ireland and the low player who doesn't meet either of those nationality requirements. You can bet on the low old guy -- Tom Lehman's the favorite there this year -- and you can bet on Tiger's first-round score.

There were betting lines for the order of finish in Tiger's threesome Thursday with Justin Rose and Camilo Villegas.

John Daly, by the way, went off at 250/1 to win and even money to wear something outrageous.

Some people look for omens. Was Charlotte resident Matthew Goggin a good bet because I ran into him at dinner Tuesday and Wednesday night?

Stepping out of the rain and into a betting shop Wednesday night, I found myself standing in a group of strangers who were glued to television sets mounted on the walls. They were watching horse racing and dog racing, which might suggest they spend a little too much time with the ponies and the greyhounds.

An acquaintance saw the dogs getting ready to run, told me to pick a number and he'd pick a number. We put a pound on it and, a few seconds later, I had won my first bet, though it never went through Ladbroke's. Before I could get out of the shop, I'd lost the pound on a second dog race.

No harm done.

But the golf tournament hadn't begun.