Its a faux par say bookie after refusing to pay out on Tommy Fleetwood bet
A furious punter has been left devastated by a high street bookie who have refused to honour a ‘winning’ bet he made with them a decade ago
Golf mad John Murray, spotted a young amateur called Tommy Fleetwood, who was then just 15, and asked William Hill about the odds for him winning an ‘open championship’ competition before the end of 2017, noting the increasing skill of the young amateur.
The London Street bookie gave him odds of 66/1, after which Mr Murray placed a £500 bet.
But after Tommy Fleetwood’s French Open win earlier this year, William Hill have refused to pay out, saying the slip actually refers to an official Open championship – one that could only take place in the United Kingdom.
Mr Murray has now sought legal advice with top law firm Smooth Commercial Law and is taking the bookmakers to task over the issue.
Smooth Commercial Law Partner Scott Birchall, who has taken up Mr Murray’s case, argues that William Hilll should honour the bet.
He told a local newspaper: “In October 2007 Mr John Murray and an associate discussed the possibility of a promising young golfer Mr Tommy Fleetwood, then 15 years of age, turning professional.
“They agreed that Mr Fleetwood, whilst young in age, was an exceptional golfer and went on to wonder what the odds would be of Mr Fleetwood turning professional and go on to win an open golf championship.
“To that end they wrote to William Hill in October 2007 and asked for ‘the odds for [Mr Fleetwood] turning professional and going on to win an open championship on the P.G.A Tour.’
“Emphasis at this stage should be placed on the fact that the bet was in respect of an open golf championship – note the lower case ‘an’ and ‘open’ – and not The Open Championship.
“On November 1, 2007 William Hill wrote back and stated that they would be prepared to quote odds of 66/1 for Mr Fleetwood to win an open golf championship by the end of 2017 with a maximum stake £500.
“Mr Murray was asked to go into any William Hill betting shop, present a copy of their letter, and place the bet.
“On November 13 Mr Murray visited the William Branch on London Street, Southport.
“He presented the letter from William Hill and asked to place a £500 stake on the bet.
“The manager of the betting shop called through to head office and requested confirmation that Mr Murray could place a bet on Mr Fleetwood winning an open golf championship by the end of 2017.
“The manager received the requisite confirmation and Mr Murray’s bet was accepted.
“A confirmation betting slip dated 13 November 2007 was supplied by William Hill, albeit erroneously referring to a golf ‘competition’ rather than ‘championship’.
“A few days later Mr Murray realized that the betting slip did not correspond exactly with the wording of William Hill’s letter so went back into the betting shop, highlighted the mistake to the manager, who agreed to issue a new betting slip.
“Mr Murray has since presented his bet to William Hill who have refused to settle the bet.
“They argue that the bet was in respect of The Open Championship and not any other.
“Mr Murray argues that winning ‘an open golf championship’ referred to Mr Fleetwood attaining first place in any championship which was open to all professional golfers on the PGA Tour.
“We accept that the purists may argue that there is only one Open Championship but this seemingly ignores the other open golf championship which take place on the P.G.A Tour.
“From a legal perspective this is a case which hinges upon interpretation of a contract.
“We will also need to consider the intention of the parties at the time when the bet was placed. In our opinion, the wording of the bet is sufficiently clear that the bet was in respect of any open golf championship.
“Furthermore, to suggest that the odds of an unknown golfer, who was 15 years of age and who had yet to turn professional, winning The Open Golf Championship were only 66/1 is ludicrous even if it was over a 10 year period.
“How many 15 year old golfers are in the world who show promise and who go on to not only turn professional but also win The British Open within a 10 year period.
“We would argue that if the bet was in respect of The British Open that the odds would have been a lot higher.
“At Smooth our areas of expertise include; commercial litigation; property litigation; banking litigation and sports law so we are well placed to handle Mr Murray’s case.”
A spokesperson for William Hill has responded to state: “IBAS (the Independent Betting Adjudication Service) has ruled in our favour that the bet was placed in faith on Tommy Fleetwood winning the Open Championship.
“Our lawyers are currently replying to Mr Murray’s complaint and as this is an ongoing matter, we cannot comment any further at this time.”