Dave Tindall looks at the best first round leader bets at this week's PGA Tour event - the CIMB Classic in Malaysia...
"Scott Piercy took round one honours in this event after a sparkling 62 in 2015. And he repeated the feat in last week’s Safeway Open, firing another 10-under 62 to lead the way."
Main Bet: Back Scott Piercy @ 34.033/1
Each-way terms: ¼ odds, 5 places
The logical first step for a first-round punt at this week's CIMB Classic would appear to be a check of who is going out early.
As Steve Rawlings notes in his in-depth outright preview, those setting out in the top half of the field have enjoyed an advantage of 1.27 strokes over the later wave.
However, will that be the case this year with the 78-man field going off in three-balls from the 1st and 10th tees? That means the first group to hit and the last group to tee off are separated by just two hours (07.45-09.45). My trio of tips below are out at 08.15, 08.25 and 09.05.
Whether this is necessary it remains to be seen as the forecast suggests just a 20% chance of rain and no t-storms. That said, it's very common in this part of the world to be on and off the course as the day goes on so it's probably a smart move to try and get everyone around early.
Basically, if you had someone in mind for a R1 punt and he's off a bit later, it shouldn't put you off too much.
A quick look at the R1 leaderboards from the last two years shows that some of the lesser lights can have their day in the sun and flourish in this market:
- 65 R Karlberg
- 67 Billy Hurley III
- 67 Brian Stuard
- 67 Angelo Que
- 62 Scott Piercy
- 65 Hideki Matsuyama
- 66 Jason Gore
- 66 Keegan Bradley
- 66 Charles Howell
- 66 Alex Cejka
- 66 Cameron Smith
I actually like the look of one of last year's fast starters, Alex Cejka. The German would have landed some each-way cash 12 months ago (the full payout compromised by the five-way tie for third of course) and it's certainly not unusual to see the name 'Cejka' high on the leaderboard after day one. It's later on in tournaments when he struggles. His ability to come out of the blocks quickly has been shown in his latest two starts. He was 4th after R1 at The Olympics (67) and 10th after 18 holes at last week's Macau Open (68). Going further back he was third after Thursday's play in Puerto Rico while last season he had a three-tournament stretch where his end-of-day-one positions read 5-4-2.
Scott Piercy took round one honours in this event after a sparkling 62 in 2015. And he repeated the feat in last week's Safeway Open, firing another 10-under 62 to lead the way again. You'll also find him closing with a 62 in this tournament on his one other appearance in 2012. His ability to shoot the lights out at TPC Kuala Lumpur makes him an appealing R1 leader bet and you'll find plenty more evidence of fast openers in his record. He occupied top spot after day one of the WGC-Cadillac Championship earlier this year and was in the top four after Thursday's opening 18 at June's US Open. The 33/1 looks well worth a poke.
Brendan Steele will fly to Malaysia in fine spirits after shooting a Sunday 65 to burst through and take victory in the Safeway Open. To be honest, that was probably his best method of winning as he's not been a good front runner in the past. We know that because he's often put himself in good positions and that means he's someone to consider for this market. He was actually 9th after round one last week but earlier this year he enjoyed a run of quick starts which saw him end Thursday inside the top two in four weeks out of seven. He led the way at the Texas Open after a 64 and was second after R1 at Bay Hill (67), Sawgrass (65) and Memorial (65). Last year he finished third here overall after being 8th after day one. He shot a 63 in round two so hopefully he can post a number like that one day earlier. For the record, Steele was 16th on the PGA Tour's Round 1 Scoring Average stats last season, with Piercy 29th and Cejka 30th.
*1pt EW on each