Punters shun favourites and sense Olympic shock
SOME punters delving into the history of the US Open at the Olympic Club must have noticed that a total unknown, Jack Fleck, beat the legendary Ben Hogan there in 1955, because "30 or 40" of them helped themselves to the 5,000-1 and later 1,000-1 that Ladbrokes were offering for 14-year-old late stand-in Andy Zhang landing the year's second Major on Sunday.
The victory of Fleck, an ex-caddie, municipal club professional and D-Day landings war hero, would have been available at 1,000 if there had been betting exchanges 57 years ago, so there are more than a few hoping that the "graveyard of champions" delivers another golfing fairytale.
Of course, it won't happen and Zhang's chances of making the cut are surely a lot bigger than the best odds of 6-1, another bet that attracted a fair degree of interest.
They were saying the same about Fleck all those years ago. But the Man From Nowhere (as the papers dubbed Fleck) had no chance on the form book either - he'd never finished higher than fifth in any previous tournament and had been on the circuit less than six months.
Unknown to Fleck himself, he was the subject of a massive coup when Dan Topping, the co-owner of the New York Yankees, got enough on him before his 18-hole play-off with a clearly exhausted Hogan to win $89,000, the equivalent of more than $750,000 today.
One Zhang backer who had £20-worth of the 5,000-1 and for the next couple of days can dream of six-figure riches will be praying that lightning strikes twice at Olympic.
Elsewhere, business was pretty sub-normal on Wednesday with Euro 2012 taking the play away.
Peter Darcy of Ladbrokes said it was very quiet but several four-figure bets on Luke Donald at 14-1 and 12-1 had been taken, while the biggest loser looked like being Jim Furyk, the headline choice of both Steve Palmer and myself in Wednesday's RPSPORT.
That firm's 40-1 was significantly laid, leaving 33-1 the price, while Betfred, who were a stick-out 45-1 on Tuesday morning and still went 40-1 going into Wednesday, also had to take a pull and Wilsonbet, who advertised 45-1 yesterday mornning, retreated to 40-1, now the best price in the market place.
David Stevens of Coral said: "Furyk's the one we fear most among the Americans and we have had to go 30-1 from 35-1."
The same firm also trimmed Justin Rose, reportedly the most popular Brit, from 33-1 to 30-1.
Coral will refund ante-post stakes on any selection who leads after round three and is beaten.
Hills attempted to tempt punters by going best price about the favourites, but only a handful were biting for the 10-1 Tiger Woods and none for the 20-1 about Rory McIlroy.
"The only one they really wanted was the 16-1 for Luke Donald," reported spokesman Rupert Adams. "We couldn't hold that past 1.30 and then we went 14-1. The 10-1 Woods and 14-1 Lee Westwood will probably last the day but we're likely to be shorter in the morning. We shall still be accommodating anybody who wants 20-1 Rory."
Anyone considering getting involved in the hole-in-one markets should be aware that journeyman Chris Perry struck the only one in four Olympic Opens in 1998.
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