WGC-HSBC Champions: Four to follow in the First Round Leader betting

Alexander Levy has good form in China and often goes well in the first round
Alexander Levy has good form in China and often goes well in the first round

Dan Geraghty provides his weekly tipsheet focusing on the men who can catch the first round glory, this week at the WGC-HSBC Champions...

"Alexander Levy is a popular pick this week, he has an excellent record in China, having won and been placed in the country on multiple occasions. The Frenchman is also a bit of a first round specialist, having led after day one on the European Tour on numerous occasions."

Here's the first round leaderboard from last year's WGC-HSBC:

63 Branden Grace
64 Steven Bowditch
64 Kevin Kisner
64 Thorbjorn Olesen
65 Dustin Johnson
65 Patrick Reed
65 Danny Willett

...and here's the picture after the first round in 2014, when we had tougher conditions, likely to be replicated this week:

67 Graeme McDowell
69 Tim Clark
69 Tommy Fleetwood
69 Rickie Fowler
69 Martin Kaymer
69 Chris Kirk
69 Brandt Snedeker

As you can see, it was largely players that made their name on the European Tour who led the way and that's been the case every year other than the first event staged at Sheshan International (2009), when Nick Watney finished day one in front. As the only WGC held outside America, the lesser travelled PGA Tour stalwarts are at a disadvantage, something I'll be bearing in mind for this week's column.

The day one weather isn't particularly appealing, with significant wind and rain in the forecast. However, with just two hours between all the tee times, the draw shouldn't throw up any big advantages.

My each-way pick this week is Thomas Pieters. I've been a long-time fan of the Belgian Bomber, who is now up to a career high 41st in the world rankings. I really fancy the classy, well-travelled Belgian to go well this week; a win here could set him up for a huge 2017.

Alexander Levy is a popular pick this week, he has an excellent record in China, having won and been placed in the country on multiple occasions. The Frenchman is also a bit of a first round specialist, having led after day one on the European Tour on numerous occasions. The 66/1 about him leading after day one here is a no-brainer.

Chinese native Hao Tong Li will have no trouble adapting to his surroundings. The talented 21-year-old plies his trade in America these days but has plenty of form and indeed wins in China and has got better each year in this event, finishing 39th, 35th and then seventh last year, when he impressed playing partner Jordan Spieth greatly.

Jhonattan Vegas put his injury woes behind him to register his best ever season on the PGA Tour last year, finishing 29th in the FedEx Cup. He makes a welcome return to this tournament, having finished 10th on his only other appearance here in 2011, when he shot a third round 65. The Venezualan bomber comes in nicely under the radar this week and looks a big price.


Recommended Bets
Back Thomas Pieters @ 40/1
Back Alexander Levy @ 66/1
Back Hao Tong Li @ 100/1
Back Jhonattan Vegas @ 100/1

1pt EW on each

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