Open Championship 2018: Three to play in the First Round Leader market

Spaniard Jon Rahm
Jon Rahm can get off to a flyer

Dave Tindall looks for early success in the Open Championship at Carnoustie with these three picks...

"No stranger to fast starts, Rahm is an industry-best 35/1 to produce a seriously early roar and he would be an obvious addition to the quality names who have topped recent R1 leaderboards at The Open."

Back Jon Rahm each-way @ 35/1

*EW Terms: 1/5 Odds | 8 Places

Weather: The forecast shows temperatures of around 15 degrees for the early starters, rising to 19 at 4pm. However, the morning wave have lighter winds. It's set to be 7mph at 07:00, 9mph at 10:00, 11mph at 13:00, 14mph at 16:00 and 13mph at 19:00.

First-round leaders at last five Opens

2017 -5 Brooks Koepka, Matt Kuchar, Jordan Spieth, -4 Paul Casey, Charl Schwartzel, -3 Richard Bland, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Austin Connelly, Charley Hoffman, Ian Poulter, Justin Thomas

2016 -8 Phil Mickelson, -5 Martin Kaymer, Patrick Reed, -4 Keegan Bradley, Tony Finau, Billy Horschel, Zach Johnson, Soren Kjeldsen, Steve Stricker, Andy Sullivan, Justin Thomas

2015 -7 Dustin Johnson, -6 Jason Day, Retief Goosen, Zach Johnson, Paul Lawrie, Robert Streb, Danny Willett

2014 -6 Rory McIlroy, -5 Matteo Manassero, -4 Jim Furyk, Sergio Garcia, Brooks Koepka, Shane Lowry, Edoardo Molinari, Francesco Molinari, Adam Scott

2013 -5 Zach Johnson, -4 Rafa Cabrera Bello, Mark O'Meara, -3 Miguel Angel Jimenez, Dustin Johnson, Shiv Kapur, Tom Lehman, Brandt Snedeker

Looking at the tee-times of the R1 leaders, five of the seven pacesetters over the past five years went out between 09:26 and 10:09 in the morning.

Two of the seven teed off between 13:26 and 13:37 in the afternoon.

There's a definite theme. A lot of the above are big players teeing off in those slots reserved for the star names.

Perhaps it's easy to recall then amateur Tom Lewis sharing the first-round lead in 2011 but his place at the top was the exception to recent trends which show that the market leaders get involved early.


Put history and weather together and a big name from a mid-morning tee-time looks the way to go.

Rahm can roar early

Jon Rahm has held a piece of the first-round lead in three of his 56 starts as a pro, the latest coming when he opened with a 62 at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He was also in the top eight after day one in his next four starts following his win in that event while he's been third (Open de Espana) and seventh (Open de France) at the close on Thursday in Europe.

Rahm took a while to come to the boil in majors but a fourth place at Augusta National back in April was the marker he needed and, potentially, this could be the week where everything comes together.

No stranger to fast starts, Rahm is an industry-best 35/1 to produce a seriously early roar and he would be an obvious addition to the quality names who have topped recent R1 leaderboards at The Open.

With the rough not as thick as usual this year due to the lack of rain, he intends to bash away with driver and, if the big-hitting Spaniard can keep it fairly straight, a low one awaits on the first day.

His 10:09 tee-time looks ideal.

Reed can write another strong opening chapter

Patrick Reed fired himself out of the cannon at last week's Scottish Open with five birdies in his first six holes and an outward 29.

He settled down a bit to shoot 65 and end R1 in a tie for seventh and I can see him making another early impression here.

The Masters winner also resided in the top four after day one at Augusta National back in April and was inside the top eight after the opening 18 in two of last year's majors - the US Open and US PGA.

With a win and a tied fourth in the two majors we've had so far, they've become Reed's stage and I can see him putting on another big performance on Thursday from his 10:20 tee-time.

Cash in on another Zach attack

I think it's risky to put all your eggs in one basket given how the Scottish weather can do its own thing, so I'll also add one from the afternoon wave rather than pick a third a.m. starter.

Zach Johnson won the Open at St. Andrews in 2015 and few players have been able to slot straight into the rhythm of the tournament as well as the American.

He has a history of fast starts.

At Muirfield in 2013 he was the round-one leader after a 66. At both Lytham and St. Andrews he was in tied second after the opening day after respective laps of 65 and 66. And at Troon two years ago ZJ fired a 67 on Thursday to sit joint fourth.

That's some body of work and each-way punters would have been collecting on Johnson in the R1 leader market in four of the last six years.

Two starts ago, the two-time major champ fired a 63 to lead the way after day one at the Travelers Championship.

He's got a 13:15 start time and is my pick of the afternoon bunch at 60/1.

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

Staked: £480
Returned: £484.16
P/L: +£4.16

(After the Scottish Open)

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