Wyndham Championship First-Round Leader Tips: Hughes can exploit perfect draw

Golfer Talor Gooch
Talor Gooch is one of Paul's three selections

Covering for Dave Tindall, Paul Krishnamurty marks your card with a trio of picks for day one...

"Hughes won, or tied, this market at both the 2019 and 2020 Travellers. Over the same three year period, he's landed a place payout on six further occasions, including this event two years ago."

Each-way terms: 1/5 odds, 6 places

Weather forecast update

See here for the latest forecast at Sedgefield Country Club. Typically and rather annoyingly, it has changed overnight. When doing my research last night, there was a clear bias to early starters, as the wind was lighter. Now the forecast shows little or none.

The wind does get up in the late afternoon, though, so it may affect late starters. Generally, I prefer backing early starters on day one as they will enjoy the greens in their best condition. In a low-scoring event, that particularly matters, so I am therefore sticking with my initial trio.

Hughes a reliable early selection

The key to golf betting - an especially data-rich sport, the clues are there in the numbers. I believe that especially applies to 18-hole betting. It is generally seen as random but in fact there are big variances so far as on which day certain players tend to excel.

Mackenzie Hughes is Exhibit A. Following the Canadian in the First Round Leader market in recent years would have returned handsome dividends.

Hughes won, or tied, this market at both the 2019 and 2020 Travellers. Over the same three year period, he's landed a place payout on six further occasions, including this event two years ago and at huge odds in the recent Open Championship.

He's drawn in the, arguably ideal, opening group. That is the clincher and means Hughes edges out Russell Henley from this three-strong staking plan.

Henley also has a fabulous record in this market. He's won or tied an event in five of the last seven seasons, often when a big outsider. He led after day one at the 2021 and 2018 US Opens, and the 2020 and 2017 renewals of The Northern Trust. In the past three years, including the above, he's earned seven place payouts. He ranks tenth on this season's Round 1 Scoring Average.

Consistent Gooch to thrive at Sedgefield

One place higher on that round one list is Talor Gooch. He hasn't played since the Open Championship, when making a 13th cut out of 14. He too has decent returns from this market, with one win and seven places in the last four seasons. Always at attractive, sometimes huge, odds.

At last year's Wyndham he opened up 65/65 and, coming in fresh, is fancied to start well again. An excellent ball-striker and iron player, Gooch should have the right skills-set for Sedgefield.

Another big positive is that his best result of a consistent year was fifth place at the course which correlates best with Sedgefield - Sawgrass, home to the elite Players Championship.

Lightning to strike twice with in-form Sloan

This market is the perfect opportunity to get with one of the 'bubble boys'. 131st on the FedEx list, Roger Sloan is right in the thick of the battle heading into this regular season finale, and was very seriously considered for the each-way column.

He's really stepping up to the challenge, especially at the start of his events. Five of his last eight opening rounds were 67 or better. He finished sixth, tied second after the opening round, at the Barracuda. Previously he led after day one of the 3M Open and was in contention on Sunday. He was also second after the first round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic - which correlates well with this event.

Big returns for a player who always starts at 100/1 or bigger. Doubtless driven by those recent numbers, Sloan actually ranks an impressive fifth among these for first round scoring average.

Nor is this run out of the blue. He led at this event last year, shooting 62 in the first round. Lightning could certainly strike twice.

Finally a word about one more alternative. Seamus Power is in the form of his life. He just won the Barbasol, at another track which correlates well with Sedgefield. Five of his last six opening rounds were in the sixties and he started with 64 here in 2019. If you believe Power can keep his run going, 55/1 amount to attractive odds.

Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty

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