Puerto Rico Open 2016: Five to follow in the first round leader market

Can Luke Donald bounce back to form?
Can Luke Donald bounce back to form?

Dan Geraghty picks out five players to consider backing in this week's secondary event...

"Luke Donald's Puerto Rico debut this week will be something of a reality check, the Englishman has been used to teeing it up in the WGC event that's currently taking place in Texas."

A four under par 68 was the best anyone could manage in round one last year. On Thursday night the leaderboard looked like this:

68 - Mark Hubbard (morning)
69 - Emiliano Grillo (morning)
69 - Chris Smith (morning)
69 - Billy Mayfair (afternoon)
70 - Jon Curran (morning)
70 - Alex Cejka (morning)
70 - Rod Pampling (morning)
70 - Rafa Cabrera Bello (morning)
70 - David Duval (morning)
70 - JJ Henry (morning)
70 - James Driscoll (afternoon)
70 - Dicky Pride (afternoon)
70 - Chad Collins (afternoon)
70 - Jonathan Byrd (afternoon)
70 - Scott Pinckney (afternoon)

At first glance this year's field looks disappointing, but as Steve points out in his excellent preview, there have been numerous players who have gone on to bigger things playing here in recent years (Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Emiliano Grillo to name but three) and there may well be a few more lurking this year, the obvious starting point being Patrick Rodgers; however, his FRL price of 33/1 in a 132 man field doesn't tempt me, in fact it requires a leap of faith to back any of the short favourites in this wide open event - I'll be looking further down the market for this week's picks.

Luke Donald's Puerto Rico debut this week will be something of a reality check, the Englishman has been used to teeing it up in the WGC event that's currently taking place in Texas. Donald's fall from grace has been shocking but there have been encouraging signs in recent months, the former world number one has made seven of his nine PGA Tour cuts this season and this week's course promises to suit. One of the shorter hitters on tour - Jon Curran - performed admirably in finishing second last year and recent leaderboards here have had plenty of shorter hitters among them.

Thomas Aiken is an excellent putter that is perhaps a lot better than his recent form figures suggest, the South African earned his PGA Tour card through the 2015 Web.com finals, achieving a lifelong dream. The three-time European Tour winner has started 2016 tentatively but is undoubtedly a class act more than capable of winning in this company; he looks a big price at 100/1.

As I've mentioned in previous columns, Rhein Gibson can go seriously low; sure he can be a frustrating golfer to follow, but frankly, the Australian is one of the most remarkable birdie machines I've seen on tour. The big hitting Australian has a morning tee time and at 80/1 in this field, his inclusion is a no-brainer.

Another shorter hitter Michael Thompson, has one of the best first round scoring averages on tour this year and is out early in the second group off the 10th tee. Thompson has experience of Coco Beach Golf and CC having finished 14th on his debut in 2011 and 54th in 2014.

Frankie Capan earned his place in this week's field by winning the Puerto Rico Junior Open on this week's course. Capan opened with two rounds of 67 on his way to a total of 12 under, setting a new tournament record. With winning course experience, he looks worth chancing at an enormous price.

Recommended Bets

Luke Donald @ 40/1
Thomas Aiken @ 100/1
Rhein Gibson @ 80/1
Michael Thompson @ 66/1
Frankie Capan @ 250/1

*1 point E/W on each

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2016 First Round Leader P&L:


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