US Masters 2023 First-Round Leader Tips: Im can repeat Thursday feat at 33/1

South Korea's Sungjae Im
Sungjae Im can lead on day one again

It's the first Major of 2023 and Dave Tindall has three each-way bets to be first-round leader at Augusta National...

  • 33/1 Sungjae Im can become the latest back-to-back FRL

  • 40/1 Tommy Fleetwood has led prestigious events early

  • 40/1 Min Woo Lee is a proven fast starter


  • Weather warning

    The good news for the opening round is that conditions are set to be warm, if a little bit cloudy. The bad news is that t-storms are part of the forecast on all four days.

    With disruptions possible, we can't be sure when everyone will get underway so paying too much attention to tee times could prove fruitless. In any case, with the smallish 89-man field going out in three-balls, tee-times are fairly bunched.

    If all goes to plan, everyone will complete on Thursday and winds will be fairly modest.

    US Masters first-round leader history

    2022 - 67 Sungjae Im, 68 Cameron Smith, 69 Scottie Scheffler, Dustin Johnson, Danny Willett, Joaqin Niemann

    2021 - 65 Justin Rose, 69 Brian Harman, Hideki Matsuyama, 70 Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Patrick Reed, Webb Simpson, Will Zalatoris

    2020 - 65 Paul Casey, Dylan Frittelli, Dustin Johnson, 66 Sungjae Im, Justin Thomas, 67 Justin Rose, Xander Schauffele, Webb Simpson, Cameron Smith

    2019 - 66 Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, 67 Phil Mickelson, 68 Dustin Johnson, Ian Poulter, 69 Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Harding, Kevin Kisner, Jon Rahm, Adam Scott

    2018 - 66 Jordan Spieth, 68 Tony Finau, Matt Kuchar, 69 Rafa Cabrera Bello, Adam Hadwin, Charley Hoffman, HaoTong Li, Rory McIlroy, Patrick Reed, Henrik Stenson

    Sungjae the perfect guy

    In four of the last five Masters, we've had a first-round leader who had previously finished first or second at Augusta National.

    So, in other words, past course form is just as good a guide for this market as it is for who might win the tournament itself.

    Another Augusta quirk is that the same names often crop up on the Thursday leaderboard. Indeed, Justin Rose and Jordan Spieth have both won this market in back-to-back years and between them they've had a piece of the 18-hole lead on seven occasions!

    So step forward Sungjae Im: last year's first-round leader and a runner-up here in 2020 when sitting fourth after day one.

    Back Sungjae Im each-way @

    33/1

    Helping the South Korean's cause is that he ranks 6th for R1 scoring on the PGA Tour this year, averaging 68.75 on his opening lap.

    Im was also the first-round leader in July's 3M Open and second after Thursday's play at the Wyndham Championship thanks to a 63. He was sixth on the FRL board at the recent Honda Classic.

    Tommy can turn it on

    Tommy Fleetwood arrives at Augusta National in good form after a third place in the Valspar Championship and a good opening 54 holes at the Players Championship where he was fourth after day three before slipping to 27th.

    At the Valspar, a Thursday 68 put him seventh after round one.

    I like the fact that he's been the first-round leader in prestigious events before. Last year he set the pace at both Sawgrass and Wentworth, opening with a 66 at The Players and 64 in the BMW PGA Championship. He was also FRL at Sawgrass in 2019.

    While he hasn't sparked on day one at Augusta National, he's twice fired a 66 here to show he can go low on this layout. A 66 would have secured him the Masters first-round lead in three of the last five years.

    Back Tommy Fleetwood each-way @

    40/1

    Fleetwood, who has three top 20s in the last five Masters, is 40/1 to lead the way after Thursday's play.

    Make it Min Woo

    Min Woo Lee showed he could go on a birdie blitz at Augusta National by playing the front nine in a record-equalling 30 blows in round four last year.

    The Australian eventually finished 14th, an excellent debut performance that suggests there is much more to come from him in the US Masters.

    As for fast starts, Lee has topped the first-round leaderboard in two of his last 10 strokeplay starts.

    They came in the DP World Tour's Andalucia Masters (66) and the Australian PGA Championship (65) late last year while, more recently, he was fifth after day one of The Players Championship (68).

    Back Min Woo Lee each-way @

    40/1

    Lee opened with a 69 in the most recent Major, July's Open Championship at St Andrews, and has the game and temperament to be a challenger at this level.

    Back him for a fast start at 40/1.

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