Travelers Championship: Three to play in the First Round Leader market

American golfer Wes Bryan
Wes Bryan looks to be coming back to form
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Dave Tindall picks out three players to get onside early at this week's Travelers Championship...

"Hossler's end-of-round positions in his last five starts read 4-3-79-39-7 so his name has become a familiar sight when scrolling up to the leaders on day one."

Back Beau Hossler each-way @ 80/1

*EW Terms: 1/4 Odds | 5 Places

Weather: Thursday's weather in Cromwell, Connecticut shows sunshine and light winds pretty much all day. The temperature peaks in the high 80s between 1pm and 3pm.

History: Jordan Spieth opened with a 63 from his afternoon tee-time last year to take the R1 lead and he never relinquished it. Five times in the last seven years the pm wave has produced the first-round leader while it was also split once. Brendan Steele is the only outright leader to have had a morning tee-time since 2011.

Conclusion: History appears to favour the afternoon starters but the weather seems fairly neutral so I'll do a 2-1 split in favour of pm.

Beau to go low early

Beau Hossler got his first look at TPC River Highlands last year and hit the ground running with a 66 to finish the first day in the top six.

Seven starts earlier he'd led a Web.com event and fast starts have become his thing on the PGA Tour this season.

Five times he's ended round one in the top five on the leaderboard and he's managed that with openers of 64 (CareerBuilder), 65 (Pebble Beach), 65 (Houston), 64 (Colonial) and 66 (Memorial).

His end-of-round positions in his last five starts read 4-3-79-39-7 so his name has become a familiar sight when scrolling up to the leaders on day one.

Overall, he's third on the PGA Tour's Round 1 Scoring Average and he was even asked about his Thursday success in a recent press conference. He didn't have an answer but at least it would have planted another seed that he loves to go low when the action gets going.

He goes off from the 10th tee at 7.10am and is a tasty 80/1.

Troy merits R1 leader punt

I looked briefly at Troy Merritt in the outright market as he has some nice converging trends this week.

The American was tied eighth at TPC River Highlands last year while his last four starts include T12 in the St. Jude Classic on his last start and T10 in the pairs event at the Zurich Classic.

Since finishing T8 at Pebble Beach in early February, he's missed only one cut in 11 starts so he's playing some impressive golf.

However, I prefer him as a R1 leader bet as his numbers are even stronger over the first 18 holes.

At the St. Jude, he opened with a 66 to tied second after the opening lap and in this event last year his first-round 65 put him in the top four at close of play on Thursday. He added 68 to sit second at halfway.

Merritt has been in the top eight after round one in four of his last 11 starts and some may recall the 2015 season when he shot 61 twice in the space of 10 tournaments.

"I've always felt comfortable on this golf course," he said last year. "I always felt like I could make a lot of birdies. It's always fit my eye. I haven't really had any good finishes here or that many great rounds, but it seems like a place I've felt comfortable with."

Having finally put a good finish on the board with last year's top 10, he's worth a bet to make another fast start on Thursday. He tees off at 12.20pm.

Bryan can burst out of the traps

My second afternoon starter is Wesley Bryan.

A winner at The Heritage last year, he also showed his liking for Pete Dye courses when opening 67-67 on his debut here last year to lie fourth at halfway before fading badly.

TPC River Highlands also correlates well with TPC Deere Run - Jordan Spieth has won at both for example - and Bryan started with a 66 (T7 after R1) before finishing third last year.

He had a really rough patch earlier this season with seven missed cuts out of eight (the exception was T42 back at The Heritage) but has made his last three cuts and a Thursday 66 (T2 after R1) helped him take T12 at the St Jude Classic last time out.

Bryan was also in the top 10 after day one at the Memorial and, as at St. Jude, in the top four at halfway before slipping away so he's been starting well but not finishing things off.

Back at a venue which clearly suits, there's good reason to expect him to come out of the gates fast again and the 100/1 is well worth a look. He hits his first shot at 1pm.

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

Staked: £360
Returned: £235
P/L: -£125
(After the US Open)

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