Phil Mickelson is one of my favourite sportsmen over the last twenty years. Two years ago I had never heard of Chris Froome. The first Test match between England Australia took place in 1882. The one common denominator between these people and events is that Bet Enthusiast followers profited from the three sporting occasions that finished within two hours of each other on Sunday afternoon.
The British Open Golf Championship is the oldest and most prestigious prize in the sport. The winning player is always announced as the champion golfer of the year as the tournament is a true world championship. Qualifying takes place in each continent throughout the world and the championship provides the most extensive mix of global players.
One of the abiding memories of four days of golf was Mickelson shaking hands with the leading amateur, 18 year old Matthew Fitzpatrick from Sheffield. Only in this tournament can players who are 25 years apart in age share the honours and both acted with great class and dignity.
Anybody reading this column will have an interest in betting on sport. Indeed, a wager can enhance any sporting event and for the vast majority of people gambling is a leisure activity, just like going to the theatre or a football match. However, watching the sport on Sunday evening emphasised that sporting excellence can sometimes transcend our financial interest.
I didn’t back Phil Mickelson to win the Open as my main interest ahead of play on Sunday was Zach Johnson to finish inside the top 10 and make the top 8 payout places. He holed a putt of about 10 feet on the last green to make the money safe and that meant Bet Enthusiast followers enjoyed a healthy profit over the course of the championship.
Mickelson is a worthy winner as he was the only player to finish under par and he recorded the joint lowest round of the week. He played what he described as one of the best rounds of his career to win the Claret Jug. He played the last six holes in four under par under the most intense pressure and on a truly difficult course.
The blue eyed boy of US golf is now three quarters of his way to a career Grand Slam. Only five players in the history of the game have won each of the major championships at least once and Mickelson just needs the US Open to complete the set. He has finished second six times in his national championship and has an even greater incentive to win the title that he now craves the most.
Mickelson is a true sportsmen and this was more than typified by his reaction when Justin Rose beat him in the crucial singles in last year’s Ryder Cup. Mickelson knew he had lost a crucial chance to win the Cup for his country but was ultimately beaten by two putts that Rose holed on the last two greens which got thumbs up from his opponent.
Lee Westwood led the Open by two shots ahead of the final round and extended that lead to three after five holes. This was his 62nd major championship and another chance to win a major has gone. Westwood did nothing much wrong in the final round but was beaten by a better player. He kept his sunglasses on as he signed his card in the recorders hut and that could have been to hide the tears as he tried to come to terms with the fact that he may never win a major.
Adam Scott must surely have created some kind of record. Leading the Open Championship during the final round in the last two years he recorded four successive bogeys on both occasions. He recovered from the disappointment of throwing away last year’s Open to win this year’s US Masters and he looks set to be a multiple major champion.
At one stage during play on Sunday afternoon Ian Poulter looked the most likely winner. After picking up five shots in four holes a late bogey could have proved costly but after Mickelson’s late burst the dropped shot cost Poulter a share of second place and not the ultimate prize in golf.
The Tour de France is the most prestigious race in cycling and for the second year running the winner was British. Chris Froome was born in Nairobi and was raised in South Africa but he represents Great Britain in his chosen sport. He cycles for the Sky team, managed by Sir Dave Brailsford who has done so much for British cycling over the last ten years.
Last year Bradley Wiggins bemused the predominantly French crowd by announcing he would be making the draw for the raffle. This was Wiggins at his most down to earth and sardonic best but Froome used his victory speech to send a more powerful message. He said his win would stand the test of time, the inference being that he is clean rider and his times were based on talent and determination and not artificial stimulants.
Lance Armstrong ‘won’ the Tour de France seven times, between 1999 and 2005. However, he was the found guilty of embarking on a widespread doping campaign that involved coercing his team mates to also cheat. His wins have been expunged from the records and the sport is now looking to rebuild credibility, a cause enhanced by the legitimate wins of Froome and Wiggins. Froome is already odds on to retain his title next year and he looks capable of running up a sequence of wins in the most famous bike race in the sport.
The Second Test between England and Australia was almost lost in the sports news agenda. England won the match with a day to spare and now look good enough to win all five matches this summer. Our tip to be top scorer for England was Joe Root and only Ian Bell has scored more runs for the side in the series to date. The third match begins at Old Trafford next week and given no major counter attraction retaining the Ashes may see England cricketers on the back and front pages of the newspapers, if there’s any space left after the arrival of the Royal baby.