I speak of the compilers of ‘in-running’ golf markets. Let me give an example. As the fourth day of the 2001 US Open at Southern Hills, Tulsa, drew to a close, just Mark Brooks, Retief Goosen and Stewart Cink were realistic contenders. Brooks, on the seventeenth, a couple of holes ahead of his rivals, was 4 to 6 to win. His next shot found the green, while his challengers struck a couple of marginally wayward shots. Instantly he shortened to 1 to 5. Yet the green he had found was notoriously treacherous, and Brooks was the wrong end of it by no little distance.
An easily predictable couple of putts later, a decent shot from Goosen and Cink apiece, and he was out to 9 to 4. Yet, in moving from 4 to 6, to 1 to 5, to 9 to 4, nothing spectacular had occurred, little more than the random ebb and flow of shots around their predictable pattern. No surprise, then, that as Cink and Goosen teed up at the eighteenth, a single shot ahead, they were granted quotes of 5 to 6 each. Brooks, the so recent 1 to 5 shot, stood at 20 to 1! Without the benefit of hindsight, was there ever better advice than backing the outsider of three here?
The rest is history, as Brooks took it to a play-off with Goosen. OK, he lost, no doubt to the relief of those who hadn’t taken the 20 to 1. But the point had been made. As it was when Bob took on Tiger Woods in the 2000 USPGA Championship. Bob? Bob who, you may ask? I refer to the 1 to 5 shot four holes out in the final round. 1 to 5 to beat the Tiger! This Bob must have been some player, or perhaps he had some lead. Well, let’s examine the facts.
The Bob in question is Bob May, the journeyman golfer rated so low in the world pecking order that he was offered at all odds up to 150 to 1 at the start of the tournament. On many markets indeed he was one of those ‘others on request’ sort of players. So perhaps the Tiger was trailing by a fistful? Not at all. Just one shot back with everything to play for.