St Jude Classic: Three to play in the First Round Leader market
Dave Tindall picks out three players to get onside early at this week's St Jude Classic...
"Aphibarnrat should really have been the first-round leader at Wentworth when he hit the front after getting to 7-under with the two closing par 5s to come."
*EW Terms: 1/4 Odds | 5 Places
Weather: Hot temperatures and very little wind so conditions will be good for scoring. The morning starters will get temps in the early 70s but it quickly rises and should hit 90 by midday and peak at 93 at 3pm.
History: Ben Crane (63), an afternoon starter, is the only player in the last six years to have the lead on his own after Thursday's play. Players from both a.m. and p.m. waves shared top spot in 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017 although, of those 18 players to end the day in T1, 12 started in the afternoon.
Kiradech can shine on debut
Kiradech Aphibarnrat is making his first start at St Jude but debutants have a good record in this event and he can add to it.
The Thai is in fine form after following T5 at the BMW PGA Championship with T13 at Memorial last week.
Aphibarnrat should really have been the first-round leader at Wentworth when he hit the front after getting to 7-under with the two closing par 5s to come. He played them 7-6!
He was eventually T8 after Thursday's play at the BMW while there a bunch of further examples of quick starts over the last six or seven months, including an opening 66 which put him T5 after day one at the WGC-Mexico Championship.
TPC Southwind should be a good fit for him as it rewards sharp short games while he drove the ball straight at Memorial (9th Driving Accuracy) and finding fairways this week will allow him to attack pins and go low.
He heads out at 1pm so hopefully has the ideal slot from which to flourish.
Brian can bolt out of the gates
Brian Gay is another afternoon starter, heading out from the 10th at 12.40.
The American had back-to-back top 10s at Phoenix and Pebble earlier this season and, more recently, took T12 at the Byron Nelson.
The current form is certainly there and adds to some very good course form.
Gay went wire-to-wire to win this tournament in 2009 and has two other top six finishes to his name at TPC Southwind.
The last one came just two years ago when he opened with 66 to sit fourth after the opening lap. Gay also closed with a 66 so he's used to throwing in low numbers here.
The 80/1 for the straight-hitting veteran looks good FRL business.
Jones can keep up with the early pace
From the early wave (07.20), Matt Jones certainly has plenty going for him this week.
The Aussie came close to selection in my outright preview so I'm glad to get him onside via FRL.
Jones has found some recent form with T19 in the Zurich Classic pairs event and T13 at the Byron Nelson where he opened 67-65-68 to sit inside the top three after 54 holes.
He really moves into the crosshairs when looking at past course form which shows third place in 2015, T26 in 2016 and T17 last year.
Twelve months ago Jones posted a 65 on day one to sit fifth, just one shot out of the four-way tie for top spot, so he has very recent experience of bursting out of the gate fast at TPC Southwind.
Strong scrambling is a key asset at this venue so it's notable that Jones was ranked second for Strokes Gained: Around-The-Green at the Byron Nelson.
He's a 100/1 chance for first-round leader and that looks worth a poke.
Dave's 2017/18 R1 leader P/L (based on £5 ew per selection)
(After the Memorial Tournament)