Jon Rahm Forced to Withdraw, Some Books Still Pay Out Wagers
Everything was going great for golfer Jon Rahm and those sports bettors who were backing him at the Memorial Tournament last weekend. After three rounds, he set a new course record for the first 54 holes of a tournament.
Rahm had a lead of six shots over the competition, giving him the inside path to repeat as the winner of the Memorial Tournament. All he had to do was have another solid Sunday to join Tiger Woods as the only other golfer to repeat as a winner of the Memorial.
Then, it all came crashing down in surprising fashion. Rahm wasn't done in by poor performance on the course, though. He was told following the 18th hole at the third round that he tested positive for COVID-19.
That threw not only Rahm's immediate future into doubt, but also the field at the Memorial Tournament and sports bettors across the world who backed him. The very interesting part is how sportsbooks in the U.S. handled wagers on Rahm.
What Happened to Rahm
Earlier in the week, Rahm was determined to be in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. That didn't immediately disqualify him from participating in the Memorial Tournament, though.
Tournament officials said he could still participate as long as he took a COVID-19 test every day that proved he was negative. Rahm began taking tests on Monday leading up to the tournament's start on Thursday.
Every test in that week came back negative. The one he took on Saturday morning, though, ultimately came back positive. Tournament officials couldn't confirm the positive test until Rahm was nearing the end of his third round of play, even though the test was taken after the second round.
It was a surreal moment as tournament officials notified Rahm that he tested positive for COVID-19 on live TV following his play at the 18th hole. That forced the leader to withdrawal from the tournament.
What Happened to His Betting Supporters
The sudden forced withdrawal had big effects with sports bettors across the country. Those who had wagered on golf before weren't even sure what would happen to their best in this situation.
Ultimately, different sportsbooks handled it in different ways.
BetMGM Sportsbook, for instance, decided that certain futures wagers on Rahm would be paid out as if he won. Any bettor who placed a wager on Rahm to win the Memorial Tournament outright or to finish in the top 5, top 10 or top 20 of the leaderboard were paid out in cash.
This applied for wagers that were placed through BetMGM Sportsbook's mobile app or at any of their retail sportsbook locations across the country.
Bettors who had placed a $100 wager on Rahm to be the outright winner of the tournament ultimately cashed in with a $1,000 win, since his pre-tournament odds to win were +1000. That's quite the lucky payout.
Not every sportsbook handled it that way, though. The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook and Circa Sports both stuck to their house rules. All wagers placed on Rahm were considered losers. The house rules for those books say tickets are live as long as the golfer actually begins play in the first round.
Those books, and others who followed similar procedures, only paid outright winner bets on wagers placed on Patrick Cantlay, who was the official winner of the Memorial Tournament. He had pre-tournament odds of +2200 to be the champion. A $100 wager on Cantlay, then, returned bettors a nice payout of $2,200.
Could This Happen Again?
This type of situation can only play itself out in individual sports such as golf and tennis. When players are forced to sit out or withdrawal in other team sports, the team still competes, and there is no cancellation of the game. The player, for all purposes, is treated as if he or she is simply injured.
It's entirely possible that this situation could pop up again in the future, though, especially in longer tournaments such as golf. With the Wimbledon Championships coming up in tennis, too, that could prove a challenge for sportsbooks and sports bettors alike.
This situation with Rahm could prove to be a measuring stick for how sportsbooks will handle it in the future. If you're a sports bettor, make sure to read your sportsbook's house rules to figure out what would happen in this situation, so you aren't surprised.About / Advertising Disclosure