Rory McIlroy’s father wins $171,000 betting on his son to win the British Open


Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland at a press conference after winning the British Open golf championship on July 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

Golfers in the British Open can’t bet on the tournament. Luckily for Rory’s McIlroy’s father, their dads can.

Gerry McIlroy will be $171,000 richer after cashing in on a 200-pound ($341) bet he placed in 2004 that his son would win the British within 10 years.

So maybe there was just a smidgen of extra pressure on his 25-year-old son, although Rory told ESPN the bet wasn’t exactly a regular conversation topic at the dinner table.

“He’s never reminded me,” McIlroy said of his father’s wager. “I knew that he’d done it. I’m not sure if it will pay out. If it does, it’s a nice little bonus.”

British betting company Ladbrokes announced on Twitter it would honor the bet.

Ladbrokes’ tweet:

Rory McIlroy was already a proven prodigy by then — and a member of Europe’s Junior Ryder Cup team. When Gerry placed the bet, Ladbrokes gave him 500-1 odds. Gerry told the Irish Golf Desk about the bet in 2006, hinting he may have wagered more money if Ladbrokes had allowed him to.

“We put the bet on when he was 15,” Gerry said. “They would only let us lay £400 – £100 each.”

ESPN’s Darren Rovell reported that Ladbrokes “takes more than 300 of these bets a year” — when a parent bets a kid is a future star — and that “one bet usually comes through every couple of years.”

Rachel Bridge, a spokeman for Ladbrokes, told ESPN: “We can make a lot money, but it’s a big risk if one comes through. Unfortunately, on this one, we have egg on our face. Rory’s father and his friends are having champagne on us tonight.”

Unfortunately for Ladbrokes, Gerry’s confidence in his son inspired two friends to also place bets on Rory in 2005. According to Bridge, those bets will pay out a combined $136,700.

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. Even if you’re Floyd Mayweather, that may be just a tad too pricey.

Meanwhile, McIlroy just earned $1.66 million for four days of work, which included ejecting a heckler.

With the British Open victory, McIlroy joins Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus as the only players since the 1930s to win three different major tournaments by the age 25.

McIlroy, who effectively repeated two trigger words — “process” and “spot” — throughout the tournament, is now a Master’s Tournament victory away from becoming the sixth player in modern times to complete the Grand Slam.

According to SBNation:

‘They’re very simple. I just kept telling myself two words,’ McIlroy told ESPN about the couple of ‘trigger words’ he used as mantras all week to help him maintain his inner peace. Those words, for all you weekend warriors with a bazillion swing thoughts blasting through your head as you hover over every single shot for what seems like hours to your playing partners, were ‘process’ and ‘spot,’ McIlroy revealed, as promised, after fending off a surging Sergio Garcia for his first claret jug and third leg of the career grand slam.

Process, which is just ‘focus on my process’ and ‘focus on don’t care about the result, just really get into the process,’ McIlroy said. ‘And spot — for my putting: ‘just pick your spot, roll it over your spot,’ and that was it, ‘process and spot.’

Celebration Tweet from Rory:

Thomas Johnson is a reporter.
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