You wait two years for the Ryder Cup to come around, and then it’s over after just one morning.
Well, in the mind of Paddy Power it is, at least, with the Irish bookmaking firm paying out on Team Europe bets after just one session of play.
The Europeans had romped into a 4-0 lead following an inspired morning at the Marco Simone club near Rome, but with 12 more pairs ties to come – not to mention Sunday’s 12 singles games – there is still ample time for Team America to launch a comeback.
Of course, for Paddy Power this is merely a publicity stunt – they know that making national headlines is good for business.
However, their premature payout could lead to embarrassment come Sunday – as it has before when the bookies have gone too big, too soon with their early bet settlements….
When the Ryder Cup odds were released by the bookies, Europe were considered no better than a 6/4 underdog to wrestle the trophy away from the Americans.
But global wins for Viktor Hovland, Sepp Straka and Ludvig Aberg – who was still an amateur just a matter of months ago, restored faith in Luke Donald’s team, and by Friday’s first tee they had edged into 5/6 favourites.
It wasn’t long before they were playing like the market principles either, with Aberg and Hovland teaming up to win their foursomes game as Europe’s other pairings – Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton, Shane Lowry and Straka and Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood – also came to the party.
At the time of writing, the Americans looked likely to reduce the deficit during the afternoon session, but even so Europe seem destined to head into Saturday’s third and fourth sessions with the lead.
Much can change, however, with so many points still available, which makes the hubris of Paddy Power all the more surprising – they admit in a statement on their website that the early payout will cost them a ‘six-figure sum’.
But, as we know, their appearance to be a) very generous or b) very stupid in the eyes of the public drives new customers – the ultimate end-game for any betting operator.
Too Big, Too Soon
In Paddy Power’s parallel universe, Hilary Clinton defeated Donald Trump in the 2016 US election to become the first female president.
But here, on planet earth, Trump – described by Frankie Boyle in his recent stand-up show as a ‘Quaver balanced on top of a Wotsit’ – would prevail and take his seat in the White House.
Much to Paddy’s chagrin, at least privately. They paid out early on Clinton winning over the voting public – a move which ultimately cost them a rather knuckle-biting sum of £4 million. “We’ve been well and truly thumped by Trump, with his victory leaving us with the biggest political payout in the company’s history and some very, very expensive egg on our faces,” a company statement read.
An opportunistic cost of business? Try telling that to Flutter shareholders.
Of course, Paddy isn’t the only bookmaker to pay out early….and erroneously. It was perhaps wishful thinking on the part of Fred Done, the co-proprietor of Betfred, that Manchester United would win the Premier League title during 1997/98 – he is a Red Devils fan, after all.
So when Sir Alex Ferguson’s side romped into a 12-point lead at the summit of the league table, you could perhaps forgive Done for feeling in a generous mood.
Betfred paid out to United backers with a whopping ten games of the campaign still to play, and you can probably guess what happened next – a cataclysmic end to the season saw the Mancunians usurped by Arsenal and Done hit with an unnecessary loss of £500,000, which in 1998 was a considerable sum of cash.
Of course, Fred learned his lesson from the escapade. Right?
Wrong. In 2012, he was up to his old tricks. He paid out on United to win the title again, this time with a five-point lead over their local rivals Manchester City. This time, Done’s beloved wouldn’t let him down….
Oh, Fred. City stormed back, caught up with United and, on one of the most remarkable last days of the season ever witnessed in English football, won the title thanks to two injury-time goals against QPR.
He did at least get it right in 2015/16, when he paid out early on Leicester City to win the Premier League title – a victory that would cost Betfred more than £1 million. Thankfully, the Foxes did go on to lift the trophy.