Sport is at its best when it is unpredictable. Everyone likes to see the best players win now and again, but when the status quo is broken, it sends ripples across the sporting world. There are certain moments that stand out more than most, especially in the sports mentioned here.
We’ve already discussed Francis Ouimet’s story and incredible success against all odds, so here are a few more tales of unexpected triumphs.
Ben Curtis (Golf)
Curtis stunned the golfing world in 2003 when he triumphed in The Open in his first major. Curtis scraped into The Open by the skin of his teeth after a fairly underwhelming start to his career on the PGA Tour. Few expected the American to make the cut, never mind competing for the Claret Jug at the Royal St George’s Golf Club, notably one of the toughest golf courses in the United Kingdom.
However, his steady approach in a low-scoring tournament allowed him to secure a place in the final two rounds, positioned in tied-fourth with two one-over rounds of 72 to his name. Curtis was still in contention after his third round despite trailing Thomas Bjorn by two strokes.
The American raced off to a six-under start on his final round, but the pressure appeared to get to him as dropped four shots to allow the field to close. However, Bjorn and Vijay Singh failed to punish him and allowed Curtis to claim the Claret Jug, the first tournament win of his career, as a 300-1 outsider. It will take something special for the feat to be matched at future Opens.
Mon Mome (Horse Racing)
The Randox Grand National is the most famous horse race in the world, with a prestigious history. True greats of horse racing, such as Red Rum and Tiger Roll, have etched their names in folklore due to their performances at Aintree Racecourse. However, Mon Mome produced one of the greatest shocks in Grand National history in 2009, winning the event as a 100-1 outsider. The horse had finished 10th in the 2008 Grand National, 58 lengths off the pace of the winner Comply or Die.
He had won only one race in his last three seasons, entering the starting line at Aintree. But, he would defy the odds with the run of a lifetime for owner Vida Bingham and trainer Venetia Williams. With Liam Treadwell in the saddle, Mon Mome stormed to victory ahead of Comply or Die to win the event by 12 lengths, delighting punters to have backed the outsider. You can look at future outsiders for the National in the horse racing betting odds to see who could be the next Mon Mome.
Leicester City (Football)
The Foxes defied logic by surviving relegation barely in the 2014/15 season before becoming Premier League champions a year later. Claudio Ranieri inspired a mesmeric march to the top-flight crown, which continues to astound six years removed from the event. You could get a price of 5000-1 for Leicester to win the Premier League at the start of the season.
Only true dyed-in-the-wool Foxes fans were keen to take up that bet. But, it would prove very lucrative for those lucky few at the end of the campaign. The quality of Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante, along with an unshakable team spirit, propelled Leicester to the top of the table. The football world was waiting for the fairy tale to end, but it did not stop.
Tottenham’s failure to beat Chelsea late in the campaign handed the title to Leicester for the first time in their history, sparking raucous scenes at the King Power Stadium. It might be a long time before we see another Leicester-like triumph in the top flight of English football.