Wells Fargo Championship: Three to play in the First Round Leader market

American Tony Finau
Tony Finau can get off to another quick start
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Dave Tindall picks out three players to get onside early at this week's Wells Fargo Championship...

"From his 12 opening laps he averages 68.58 and that puts him second on the season-long R1 scoring table."

Back Tony Finau each-way @ 50/1

*EW Terms: 1/4 Odds | 5 Places

Weather forecast: It's mostly sunny all day in Charlotte for Thursday's opening lap, with temperatures shooting up from 70 degrees in the morning to nearly 90 degrees by 4pm. Winds looks to be pretty steady but could pick up a touch in the afternoon although at around 9mph it's nothing noteworthy.

History: The last time this course was used as a regular PGA Tour stop in 2016, afternoon starters and playing partners Andrew Loupe and Steve Wheatcroft led the way after day one with 65s. However, Robert Streb had a morning tee-time when leading in 2015, also with a 65, while Angel Cabera went out early and shot the day's best score, a 66, in 2014.

Overall, there doesn't seem to be any obvious a.m./p.m. advantage.

Finau can make another flyer

Tony Finau, he of the magic ankles, looks a strong choice to feature on the leaderboard this week.

The monster-hitting American overcame his one-second foot dislocation at Augusta National to finish T10 on his Masters debut and earlier this season we've seen him make the top six at the Farmers Insurance Open and finish runner-up at the Genesis Open.

He also had fun in last week's pairs event in New Orleans, finishing in the top six.

All his current form in 2018 is enough to prompt an outright bet although it remains a niggle that his only win came in a weak field at the 2016 Puerto Rico Open.

Making fast starts is a different story though and he's topped the R1 leaderboard twice this season already, firstly after a 65 at Torrey Pines and, two starts later, thanks to a 66 at Riviera.

Finau continued the theme by shooting an opening 68 to sit T8 after day one of the WGC-Mexico Championship while 24 hours after popping his ankle joint back in place he hung up a 68 to end day one of the US Masters in a tie for second.

From his 12 opening laps he averages 68.58 and that puts him second on the season-long R1 scoring table.

Right now, it's far more profitable for Finau fans to play him in the first-round leader market than on the outrights.

Sure, there's more chance of a multiple tie backing someone over just 18 holes but the 50/1 for R1 leader makes more appeal than the 33/1 to win.

Moore of the same

I've tipped Ryan Moore in the outright market and, at the same price, I'm more than happy to take him for first round leader too.

Moore has some excellent Thursday history in this event.

He was part of a three-way tie for the lead in 2012 after shooting a R1 66, while a 67 on day one the following year saw him share top spot with six others in 2013.

So far this season, the in-form American was T6 after the opening lap of the Genesis Open at Riviera while he posted another 68 in the first round of the Texas Open on his last start to sit second after 18 holes.

While it's possible to pick holes in Moore's recent record when in contention, there'll be no pressure in round one and he's had the lead at the end of Thursday's play twice in his last 39 starts.

He's fit, healthy and raring to go.

Moore heads out with Finau from the 10th tee at 08:10 local so I'm hoping this is a hot group.

Watney can nick punters some early winnigs

Nick Watney may be down at 261 in the current world rankings and without a PGA Tour win since 2012 but he hasn't forgotten how to start fast.

The Californian's end-of-first-round positions starting with November's RSM Classic read: 3-9-15-12-60-36-2-94-10-12.

That puts him ninth overall in R1 scoring this year and he's landed the each-way first-round leader money twice and been just a shot or two shy on plenty of other occasions.

To bolster his appeal, Watney also has some impressive course form even if it is a little dated. He was T11 on debut in 2005, had four top 25s in his next five appearances and, more recently, cracked the top 10 in both 2012 and 2013.

"I really enjoy it. I enjoy coming here every year. It's one of the best tournaments we have and one of the best courses," he said a few years back.

Currently 13th in Driving Distance and 43rd in Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee, Watney has the tools to post a good early number here.

He's an afternoon starter (12:50 local) so that gives us some p.m. interest too.


Dave's 2017/18 R1 leader P/L (based on £5 ew per selection)

Staked: £150
Returned: £45
P/L: -£105
(After Volvo China Open)

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