Tuesday 20 February 2018

Molloy takes sponsors to the cleaners

Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

BETTING on golf by players or caddies is strictly forbidden in the professional ranks, but in amateur golf it's fair game -- as was proved by Ardee member Ciaran Molloy.

Molloy (27) struck a blow for the little guy against the bookies when he was priced at 66/1 and won the Dundalk Scratch Cup recently.

Ironically, the event was sponsored by Paddy Power.

They provided the prize money, they set the odds for the 36-hole event -- and they paid out over €32,000 to the lucky dozen or so punters who bet on Molloy, including the golfer himself.

His winnings from the bet totalled €4,925 and he also won first prize of a voucher worth €700.

Molloy plays off a plus-two handicap and had returned from a couple of years in Australia on Christmas Eve. He had spent most of that time working in the Paradise Palms Golf Resort in Cairns, North Queensland -- the perfect job and place of employment for a golfer.

Prior to leaving for Oz, Molloy won the Athlone Scratch Cup in 2009 and while Down Under, he also won a few 'Vardons', which are the equivalent of Scratch Cups in Ireland.

Since January, the Ardee golfer has been either seeking work or working part-time and once the weather brightened up, he had his golf game in good shape prior to the prestigious Dundalk Scratch Cup.

As events transpired, everything fell into place for him -- right venue, right form and right price for a bit of a cut at the bookies.

"I'm not normally a gambler as such -- I didn't even back anything in the Grand National this year," he said. "But coming up to Dundalk, I just felt I was playing well. It's a very similar course to Ardee. I was shooting low around Ardee coming up to it. I was holing putts, hitting the driver long and striking the ball well.

"I thought I'd have a good bet on myself because it was the start of the year and you never know, I might have a chance of winning, so I went heavy on it.

"Now, I could have shot a couple of 76s, but I shot 68 69."

Molloy was originally priced at 40/1, but drifted to 66/1. He shelled out €140 on himself at the higher price -- €50 each-way and €40 for a place -- and told some friends he was worth a punt.

Pressure? Definitely.

"I'm not going to lie. I was thinking about it and I was edgy for four days beforehand, thinking I could lose €140, but I prepared well," he said.

"I had played a few practice rounds on the course and I got up extra early the two mornings beforehand because I knew I was out at 7.30 and when the competition started, I just got it going."

Molloy's form held up for the 36 holes, giving him a total of 137 to claim victory by six shots ahead of internationals Stephen Crowe (Dunmurry) and James Fox (Portmarnock), who each totalled 143.

His winnings helped to pay off a few debts and also his club subscription for the year and his fellow Ardee members, who backed Molloy, were also very happy.

Since his Dundalk victory, Molloy has played in the Shannon Scratch Cup -- venue for the Irish Close championship -- and came fourth.

He shot 78 78 in the West of Ireland championship at County Sligo, and failed to qualify, while he came fifth in the Laytown & Bettystown Scratch Cup. At Shannon and Laytown he won vouchers, but there was no betting market.

The Ardee man is set to tee it up in the Irish Amateur Open championship to be played at Royal Dublin from next Friday to Sunday, but admits that he's not great on links courses. "I'm not very optimistic. I haven't played the course and I've heard it's very tough, but I'll give it a bash," said Molloy.

Brian Cusack, Senior Sports Trader for Paddy Power, said the company have been laying odds on Irish amateur golf for over two years, and this is the first time they've been hit with a big payout.

"From our own point of view we were very happy with the market. A few punters got lucky, and good luck to them," he said. "These (amateur events) are pretty good tournaments. A lot of these players are going to come through, hopefully, in years to come.

"This was (Rory) McIlroy's hunting ground for a couple of years, and these tournaments are popular. In fact, golf in general is very popular with our customers. We try and cater for what punters want and we're going to stick with what we're doing."

It's interesting to note that form favoured the bookies in the Munster Stroke Play Championship played at Cork GC last weekend.

Niall Gorey of Muskerry was favourite at 5/1 -- and duly delivered.

Irish Independent

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