The Players Championship First-Round Leader Tips: Picks from 66/1 to 150/1

American golfer Tom Hoge
Tom Hoge can make a fast start

The PGA Tour heads to iconic TPC Sawgrass and Dave Tindall has three each-way bets to top the leaderboard come the end of round one...

  • 66/167.00 Tom Hoge led the way here after 18 holes in 2022

  • 150/1151.00 Chesson Hadley is another former FRL leader here

  • 80/181.00 Denny McCarthy has course/current FRL form


  • Weather forecast for Thursday

    So just how many balls will end up in the water at 17? That depends on the wind and, to the relief of those teeing it up at the infamous island hole, it looks light.

    Wind speeds are only set to be between 3-6mph on day one before they pick up later in the tournament. It's fairly mild with temperatures starting in the 60s and peaking in the early 70s in mid-afternoon.

    Early starters have dominated recent FRL history with the last five 18-hole leaders all having a Thursday morning tee-time.


    Back Tom Hoge @ 66/167.00

    I'm putting plenty of faith in Tom Hoge this week and have backed him in my outright preview at 66s.

    At the same price he's also a good bet here to flourish from his morning tee-time of 08.13.

    Hoge says he expects to play well at TPC Sawgrass as it suits him and he certainly showed that last year when shooting a course-record 62 on day three and finishing third.

    As for fast starts, he has those too. Hoge had a piece of the first-round lead here in 2022 thanks to a 66. Opening 69s in the previous two years put him sixth and 13th respectively.

    With five finishes of 17th or better in his last seven outings, Hoge has made an excellent start to the season and he's carded two 65s and four 66s in that run.

    One of those 66s put him fifth after day one of the Genesis Invitational at Riviera so there's lots to like about the 2022 Pebble Beach winner.

    Back Tom Hoge each-way @ 66/167.00

    Bet here

    Back Chesson Hadley @ 150/1151.00

    Chesson Hadley is also on the list of past first-round leaders at The Players, an opening 66 in 2018 securing top spot and setting him on the way to an 11th place finish.

    He also shot a Saturday 66 on his second start at TPC Sawgrass and making three of his last four cuts here is better than many of the more celebrated names.

    His case strengthens when noting that he's been a first-round leader on the PGA Tour in two of his last 17 starts, those pacesetting laps coming at the Canadian Open and the Sanderson Farms Championship.

    More recently, he was ninth after day one at Torrey Pines and, last time out, was third following Thursday's action at the Cognizant Classic when starting off with a 65.

    With four opening rounds of 66 or better in his last nine tournaments, fast starts are a regular occurence so the 150s looks good.

    Hadley is in the very first group out at 07:40 local time.

    Back Chesson Hadley each-way @ 150/1151.00

    Bet here

    Back Denny McCarthy @ 80/181.00

    For an afternoon starter - 12.56 from the 10th - I'll try Denny McCarthy at 80s.

    The American is routinely quick out of the blocks here and his four first-round openers read 69, 69, 70, 68. They equate to day one positions of 13-6-31-5.

    As well as landing the each-way FRL cash twice in the last three years, he's also set the pace in two of his latest 14 PGA Tour starts.

    The first of those, a stunning Thursday 60 at the Travelers, came on another Pete Dye track (TPC River Highlands) while the second was thanks to a 63 in November's RSM Classic.

    Earlier this season he was eighth after 18 holes at Pebble Beach while he also ended day one in the top 15 at the Genesis Invitational.

    Back Denny McCarthy each-way @ 80/181.00

    Bet here

    Now read Dave's outright preview of The Players Championship!


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