Dave Tindall looks at the opening round of the Genesis Open at Riviera CC in California and has three picks to make a fast start...
"Laird was fourth after day one at the Desert Classic and occupied that same slot following the opening lap at TPC Scottsdale. Both were courtesy of 65s."
Each-way terms: 1/5 odds, 6 places
Weather forecast for Riviera: Get the rain gear out boys as it's going to come down all day. Temperatures rise from the high 50s in the morning to nothing more than 63 in the afternoon but it looks as if the very early starters will play a few holes in lighter winds before it gusts up to 17mph at 11am and hovers around 15mph before dropping much later in the day. Don't rule out it getting really messy and the p.m. wave having to complete on Friday morning. That would be an advantage as it's sun/clouds and lighter winds although the rollover is pure guesswork.
First-round leader history:
2018 - 66: Tony Finau (pm), Patrick Cantlay (pm)
2017 - 64: Sam Saunders (am)
2016 - 63: Camilo Villegas (pm)
2015 - 66: James Hahn, Retief Goosen, Vijay Singh, Nick Watney, Daniel Summerhays, Derek Fathauer (5am, 1pm)
2014 - 66: Dustin Johnson (am)
2013 - 64: Matt Kuchar (am)
Strategy: Afternoon starters have fared better in two of the last three years but go back a little further and the morning wave have come out on top. History doesn't really help us. The weather is also hard to decipher. Probably best not to let tee-times influence us too much although an a.m./p.m. split is probably wise given the uncertainty.
Laird can go low again
Martin Laird did us a favour in this market at 75/1 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open a couple of weeks ago and I'll back the Scot for another low first round here at an even bigger price.
Fast starts have become a habit of late even if he's not always carried his effort through to the end.
Laird was fourth after day one at the Desert Classic and occupied that same slot following the opening lap at TPC Scottsdale. Both were courtesy of 65s.
He didn't quite have the same spark at Pebble but a Thursday 68 was his best of the week and put him in the top 20.
Here at Riviera, Laird had a piece of the R1 lead (with eight others!) in 2011, was in the top six after the first round last year and T16 in 2016.
The last three years, Laird has shot a number of impressive rounds in posting finishes of 11-8-9 so this looks a great venue for him to start brightly once more.
Laird is a morning starter at 08:04.
Side with Spieth
Jordan Spieth interests me this week as, for now, he's a better bet over 18 holes than 72.
He's made excellent starts in his last two events but faded and followed that same pattern in Las Vegas back in November.
In the Sony Open, he was initially sluggish with a 73 but hit back with a 66 so, for this market, I like the fact he's shooting a mix of low rounds and poor ones rather than churning out consistent 69s.
Spieth's end of R1 positions in his last five starts read: 9-5-127-91-5 while he was first-round leader at both the US Masters and the Travelers Championship last year.
Wind back further and he's had six R1 leads in his last 49 starts.
The three-time major champ, who tees off at 07:22 from the 10th, is 35/1 to bag another.
Vote for Vegas
I was tempted by J.T. Poston (R1 66 on only Riviera start and some good recent round ones) but that would mean three morning starters and that's too many eggs in the same basket given that there could be a some weather bias.
So I'll pick someone from the afternoon bunch and one who could go big is Jhonattan Vegas.
He's got a couple of good finishes here with T12 and 2015 and in the latter he he was T8 after day one thanks to a 67.
Vegas has also been in the top 10 after 18 holes in three of his last nine starts and the latest look we got of him was a promising T10 at the Phoenix Open.
The Venezuelan gives it a good smack off the tee which will help in the wet weather and at TPC Scottsdale he ranked 4th for GIR and third for Scrambling - both ideal skill-sets for this course.
Take the 110/1 on the 12:32pm starter.
Dave's 2019 R1 leader P/L (based on £5 ew per selection)