Dear Lily: An open letter to the British betting shop that botched my Jordan Spieth wager

July 24, 2017

Dear Lily from Ladbrokes,

I wish it didn’t come to this.

You may not remember me, but I was the fidgety American who stopped into your fine Southport establishment last Wednesday morning, one day before the start of the British Open. You might call it the Open. It’s the same thing.

Remember our small talk? I asked how busy you were. You asked if I was here to cover the golf. I loved your accent. You liked mine. I fancied your nails. (In fact, dear Lily, I’m so fond of you that I’ve changed your name to protect your identity.) 

You told me, a Ladbrokes rookie, how to properly mark my wagers for the 146th Open, being played just a few miles down the road. You told me where extra betting slips were located, in case I made a mistake. I was so excited. Maybe you couldn’t tell. Betting on big-time sporting events like this isn’t legal in most of the U.S. I couldn’t wait to place my bets, tell my friends, take a picture and put it on Twitter. Oh, the retweets!

But now, Lily, I’m reeling. I wish I knew why you had to take my betting sheets and rewrite my picks onto different sheets to print my receipts. I figured it was protocol. Maybe I messed up? Either way, I should have looked at the receipts before I arrived at the golf course. Silly me. Because Lily from Ladbrokes, I didn’t pick Dustin Johnson to win, like my receipt read.

I picked … Jordan Spieth.

I can guess how the mistake was made. Dustin was listed above Jordan—their blank boxes 1/16 of an inch apart from each other. I bet, Lily, that when you were following your index finger to the right, making sure you marked the correct box, that finger moved ever so slightly. Who would have guessed it? Not me!

And Lily from Ladbrokes, maybe you aren’t a big golf fan. But … Spieth won! He did it! He was tied for the lead after the first round, grabbed it outright in the second and, well, you don’t need the full story. But here I am, thinking what could have been had we avoided this hiccup.

I wish this debacle would have happened on one of the other players I bet on, like Justin Thomas or Hideki Matsuyama or Ian Poulter or Jason Dufner. But it didn’t.

I could see this coming all week, too.

I followed Dustin on the back nine on Friday, but I only saw you, Lily.

I sat in on every one of Jordan’s press conferences this week, but I only heard your voice, Lily.

And Lily, you should have seen my face, when Jordan made eagle on 15 on Friday. That got him to seven under. Blimey, Lily! I wondered where you were at that very moment.

Or on Saturday, when he made a long birdie putt on 18 for a three-shot lead after 54 holes. Did you see that one, Lily? I sure did.

Unfortunately, Lily, we can’t prove my accusation. But surely you saw my expert pick on Do you follow me on Twitter, Lily? I announced my pick to win there, too. Last year I liked Rory McIlroy to win nearly every major, but I learned my lesson. Rory, though, almost proved me wrong this week, Lily. You should have seen him! His caddie reminded him that he’s “Rory F—— McIlroy.” You would have loved it. I know you.

Anyway, I know 10 pounds on a player with 14-to-1 odds to win isn’t a lot of money, but every little bit helps, Lily. New York City is expensive.

Here are a couple of things I could have spent my winnings on. I wrote them on the back of my losing ticket while sitting at the Manchester airport Monday morning.

1. Nice dinner
2. Golf balls
3. Dress pants
4. Creative writing lessons

But maybe this will teach me a lesson, Lily. Maybe this is good. Betting is a risky habit. You can lose a lot of money. Studies show it can ruin families and marriages. John Daly lost a fortune gambling. I didn’t bet on Daly this week though. He missed the cut, Lily. His pants are crazy. You would think they are neat.

So, in closing, I’m not saying I wish we never met, Lily. I’m just wishing things would have been different between us. 


Josh from America