Rory McIlroy took his first Open Championship and third major title in a thrilling final over Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler. But the 25-year-old golfer was not the only winner on Sunday.
Rory McIlroy’s British Open victory brought his father, Gerry McIlroy, $171,000, after he placed a 200-pound ($341) bet at odds of 500/1 in 2004 that his son would win the tournament within 10 years. Three friends of McIlroy’s father also bet £100 each.
The golfer said: “I don’t think it matters so much to my dad any more, but the mates he did it with, I think they’re a little happier.”
Thanks to McIlroy’s father and another $140,000 in long-odds bets by his family and friends, U.K. bookmaker Ladbrokes, said it suffered the most expensive British Open since 2006.
“Although we’re facing heavy losses we can’t help but admire the foresight of Rory’s dad and his pals a decade ago,” Ladbrokes spokeswoman Jessica Bridge said in a statement.
“It’s not the first time a famous parent has taken us to the cleaners. Lewis Hamilton’s family and friends cashed in from bets placed when the F1 star was just nine years old.”
Going into the tournament, McIlroy and Justin Rose were favorites at 14-1 odds. For bettors to earn the same payout as McIlroy’s father, they would have had to bet more than $10,000.
Gerry, 52, and his wife, Rosie, are credited with a crucial influence on Rory’s stunning rise to golfing prominence. McIlroy was coached by his father at their local club in Holywood, County Down. It is said that aged two, he was able to drive the ball 40 yards.
When talk of the bet first emerged, Gerry was quoted as saying: “It’s ridiculous really, isn’t it? You realise you can make more money on the golf tour in one week than some people make in a lifetime.”
Gerry is now a key member of the new company, Rory McIlroy Incorporated, that was formed to run his son’s affairs – including the £78 million five-year sponsorship deal with Nike – last September after the controversial split from his previous agency, Horizon, says the Telegraph.
McIlroy received a standing ovation after finishing 17-under-par overall and invited his mother on to the 18th green for a celebratory hug. He later dedicated the victory to her, saying: “This one’s for you, mum.”
“My mum hasn’t been at the previous two major wins,” he said. “It was just my dad. And it was just great to see her on the back of the 18th there and how much it meant to her.
A third Major victory at the age of 25 means McIlroy is now one of the all-time greats – as has completed three of four legs of a career grand slam, achieved only six times before in history.
Speaking moments after making the final putt, McIlroy said: “It feels incredible. Today wasn’t easy. There were a few guys that were making runs at me I just needed to stay focussed and in the present and concentrate on what I was doing out there.”