Dan Geraghty has studied the First Round Leader market and picks out four morning starters to set the pace in Las Vegas...
"Martin Laird has some wonderful form at TPC Summerlin, the Scot won here in 2009 and was second the following year; he also led here after round one last year, after an impressive opening day 64."
With no rain and minimal wind forecast throughout Thursday, there's little advantage to be found anywhere in the draw, although with many of my fancies out very early I'm hoping they'll be able to post a number on the fresh greens while their peers sleep.
Martin Laird has has some wonderful form at TPC Summerlin, the Scot won here in 2009 and was second the following year. Laird also led here after round one last year, after an impressive opening day 64. When you add the fact that our man was third after round one last week at the Frys.com Open, his inclusion here is a no brainer.
After an excellent performance at last week's Frys.com Open, I need little persuasion to back Patrick Rodgers again this week; the American joins Laird in being first on the course at 6.55am on Thursday and is very much one to follow this season. Rodgers is a scoring machine when on song, at the Frys he was first in par five scoring and second in birdies or better. Like last week, his missed cut here last season is easily forgiven.
When researching this week's event one name kept cropping up again and again. Hudson Swafford was an excellent 30th on his Shriners debut in 2013 and followed it up with an 18th placed finish last year. The Harris English doppelgänger was 17th on his seasonal debut last week at the Frys, his first outing for five weeks and has consistently been among the best putters in his brief career on tour thus far, an attribute that will hold him in good stead during this week's expected birdie fest.
My final pick is out of the leftfield to say the least. Blayne Barber has little form to speak of and missed the cut here last year on his debut in the event. However, the American is a serious talent and is one to keep an eye on during his second season on tour. Barber missed the cut on his seasonal debut last week following seven weeks of preparation and practice but is confident his game is in good shape; when he's confident, his putting is up there with the best around and weeks where distance isn't everything are the ones to catch him.
Martin Laird @ 66/1
Patrick Rodgers @ 40/1
Hudson Swafford @ 66/1
Blayne Barber @ 150/1
*1 point E/W on each
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