Safeway Open: Three to play in the First Round Leader market

Scotland's Martin Laird
Martin Laird can be quick out of the blocks again

Dave Tindall looks at the opening round of the Safeway Open and has three picks to make a fast start...

"Fast starts are the norm for Laird here."

Back Martin Laird each-way @ 75/1

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

Weather forecast for Silverado Resort, Napa: Rain on Wednesday should soften the course a little but the sun comes out for Thursday's opener. Temperatures are around 60 degrees for the very early starters and will climb to 70/71 for the p.m. wave, with the wind picking up from 6mph to 10mph in the afternoon. As usual with poa annua greens, they get bumpier as the day goes on.

First-round leader history: Last year, three players shot 65 on day one and all were morning starters. Scott Piercy's course-record 62 in 2016 also came off an early tee-time while double defending champion Brendan Steele was also the first-round leader in 2015 despite finishing T17. Once more, he'd pegged it up early. With lighter winds, smoother greens and not that much of a temperature variance to the afternoon wave, this is a week to focus on the morning tee-times.

Laird can light it up early

Martin Laird deserves 'course horse' status this week given his four-year form at Silverado which reads 3-64-8-17.

There's one flop in there but, interestingly, he'd started that week in 2015 with a 65 which put him in third spot after day one.

Laird was also third at the close of R1 on debut in 2014 and an opening 67 in 2016 also put him in the top 10 on Thursday's leaderboard. In other words, fast starts are the norm for Laird here.

He putts well on poa annua and showed that when T9 at Riviera on his last start in California. A first-round 68 had put him tied sixth at close of play.

The Scot hasn't played since August after going out of the play-offs in the Northern Trust but he did kick that month off with T15 at the Barracuda (10th after R1) so that's enough to get me on board here at the industry-best 75/1.

He heads out at 7.20am.

Rodgers to race out of the traps

I gave local Californian Patrick Rodgers a decent look in the outright market but R1 leader looks a slightly better opportunity.

The man who tied Tiger Woods' record of 11 wins at Stanford and topped the world amateur rankings is still looking for that first PGA Tour win but his home Golden State looks a likely venue.

Rodgers has shot in the 60s in six of his last seven first rounds and has been T21 or better after Thursday's action in five of his last nine PGA Tour events.

A check through his California record shows T4 at Torrey Pines in 2017, T8 at Pebble Beach earlier this year and at T6 at this week's course in 2015.

Rodgers, an 8.00am starter, looks an attractive price at 80/1 for FRL.

Mahan can make hay from early start

Hunter Mahan has to use the Finals to regain his PGA Tour card but he did it well, finishing runner-up at the DAP Championship in Ohio.

Rather than it coming out of nowhere, Mahan had been on the right track for a while and the summer had seen him finish T7 in the Barbasol Championship and T23 at Barracuda.

Now he gets to continue his rebuild at a venue where he was third in 2014 and tied 13th last year.

The former Ryder Cup star was fifth after day one at the Barbasol and in his pomp had a great record in the first-round leader market.

He's off at 8.20am and, at 75/1, this could be a good chance to catch him.

Dave's 2018 R1 leader P/L (based on £5 ew per selection)

Staked: £780
Returned: £610.23
P/L: -£169.77

(After the Portugal Masters)

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