Sentry Tournament of Champions First-Round Leader Tips: Make it Morikawa

American Collin Morikawa
American Collin Morikawa can get off to a flyer

The PGA Tour resumes in Hawaii and Dave Tindall has three each-way picks to be First Round Leader at the Plantation Course...

"Morikawa has led the field after 18 holes in two of his last 21 PGA Tour starts. The most recent propelled him to victory in the Workday Charity Open while the most relevant came at last year's Sony Open."

Collin Morikawa each-way @ 28/1

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

Weather forecast for Thursday: Windy days are common at Kapalua and players will be tested on day one. It could gust over 20mph while it's pretty locked in at 15mph all day. There's a mix of sunshine and cloud while there could be a spot of rain too in the afternoon.

FRL history at The Plantation Course

2020 - 66 Joaquin Niemann
2019 - 66 Kevin Tway
2018 - 67 Marc Leishman
2017 - 65 Jimmy Walker
2016 - 65 Patrick Reed
2015 - 65 Russell Henley
2014 - 66 Jordan Spieth, Webb Simpson, Chris Kirk, Michael Thompson
2013 - 69 Dustin Johnson, Mark Wilson, Nick Watney
2012 - 67 Jonathan Byrd

Strategy: Tee-times run from 9:10am local to 12.30pm, the 42-man field heading out in two-balls. The weather is challenging throughout and doesn't really offer any significant advantage. Of course, foot traffic will be minimal given the small entry list so it's a free hit for FRL punters to be honest.

Count on Collin

The main talking point about Collin Morikawa here last year was that he'd played the course when he was nine.

His paternal grandparents were born on Maui and he has plenty of relatives still living in Hawaii. While the fairytale win didn't quite emerge, a tied seventh spot was still a very decent effort for his first competitive outing at the Plantation Course.

Of course he returns this year as a major winner having captured the US PGA at Harding Park - another course where he had some past history having played there in college.

If the family/history angle can be dismissed as a nice story, the cold, hard facts can't.

Morikawa has led the field after 18 holes in two of his last 21 PGA Tour starts. The most recent propelled him to victory in the Workday Charity Open while the most relevant came at last year's Sony Open, the other event on the Hawaiian Swing. He defends there next week.

Although his form tailed off a little at the back end of 2020, he rounded off the year with a tied 10th in the DP World Tour Championship while he fired pre-weekend 65s in two of his final three PGA Tour events.

A brilliant iron player, he looks a great fit for the course and those recent fast starts suggest he can show it on day one.

Morikawa begins his day at 12:10pm (local) which is 10:10pm in the UK. Get ready for some late nights!

Smith can start fast

I've made the argument for Cameron Smith in my outright preview.

Cameron Smith wins the Sony.jpg

In quick summation, the Aussie has been in great form, was a winner in Hawaii last season and did better than his bare finish suggested on his course debut two years ago.

So, all that's needed really is to bolt on some evidence that he can produce fast starts.

Well, it's not hard to find. He was sixth after day one of The Masters on his last outing and also ended day one inside the top 10 of his two previous tournaments, the ZOZO Championship and the CJ Cup.

Although he didn't burst out of the gate when winning last year's Sony Open, he did start the 2017 edition of that event with a 64 and began with 66s in both 2018 and 2019.

Australian golfers have a great tradition in this event and Marc Leishman took first-round honours two years ago.

Smith, a 10:50am starter, will be full of confidence and 30/1 for FRL is worth taking.

Thompson to thrive early

Michael Thompson makes his first start at The Plantation Course since 2014 courtesy of a July win in the 3M Open.

He paved the way for that with a Thursday 64 to sit second after day one while he occupied that same slot via a 67 in the first round of the Houston Open on his latest appearance.

Thompson also had strong opening laps at The Heritage (65) and the Travelers Championship (64) so that's four times in his last 13 starts that he's resided in the top five with 18 holes in the books.

On that first crack at this week's course six years ago he fired a 7-under 66 to take a piece of the first-round lead. In other words, there are several formlines pointing to him this week.

He should like the firm, bouncy conditions and the 80/1 to be first-round leader could look very generous. Thompson tees off at 9:40am.

Dave's 2021 First Round Leader P/L

Staked: £0
Returned: £0
P/L: £0

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