It was the ultimate show of confidence in a son, which has now handsomely paid off.
Gerry McIlroy was a bar steward in Belfast 10 years ago when he placed a hardly insignificant £200 bet that his 15-year-old son, Rory, would win the Open Championship before he turned 26.
As the 25-year-old McIlroy raised the Claret Jug aloft at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club after winning by two shots on Sunday, his father suddenly found himself £100,000 richer. He isn't alone with cause for added celebration. Ladbrokes said two of his friends had placed similar bets, which will cost the bookmaker a further £80,000.
The golfer said: "I don't think it matters so much to my dad any more, but the mates he did it with, I think they're a little happier."
Jessica Bridge, of Ladbrokes, said: "As the family celebrations get under way there'll be an extra bottle or two of bubbly courtesy of the bookies. This is the most expensive Open result since Tiger Woods's heyday in 2006, but although we're facing heavy losses, we can't help but admire the foresight of Rory's dad and his pals a decade ago. It's not the first time a famous parent has taken us to the cleaners. Lewis Hamilton's family and friends cashed in from bets placed when the F1 star was just nine years old."
Gerry's friends had between them placed £200 at odds of 250/1 that Rory would win the Open within 10 years, which ran to the end of 2015. A further £100 was bet at 150/1 that the golfer would win the Open before turning 50.
Gerry, 52, and his wife, Rosie, are credited with a crucial influence on Rory's stunning rise to golfing prominence. Gerry at one stage worked 100 hours per week to fund Rory's participation in amateur events. "From 12pm to 6pm I was a bartender at Holywood Golf Club, then, after going home for tea, I'd return to the sports club from 7pm-midnight to work behind the bar," he said in 2009. "I am a working-class man and that's all I knew – to get the money we needed for Rory to be able to learn and compete at golf," he added. During the intervening years, Rory has claimed on-course earnings of around £30m. He has a £75m contract with Nike and a home in Florida. McIlroy's parents still live in the Belfast suburb of Holywood.
Gerry, himself a four-handicap golfer, attended the Open this week, as he did last month's US Open. He is a director of Rory McIlroy Inc, the company set up to run the three-time major winner's affairs after his split from the Horizon group. Rory is expected to team up with his father in October in the pro-am format of the Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland.
After buying a house for his parents, McIlroy said: "I'll never be able to repay Mum and Dad for what they did, but at least they know they'll never have to work another day. I'll do whatever it takes to look after them."
When McIlroy won his second major, the 2012 USPGA Championship, it was Father's Day. Gerry embraced his son on the 18th green after his eight-shot victory.
This article has been amended to correct a dating error in the standfirst.
Authored by Ewan Murray via theguardian.com.