US Open 2018: Three to play in the First Round Leader market

Australian golfer Jason Day
Jason Day can make another fast start in a major

Dave Tindall picks out three players to get onside early at Shinnecock Hills this week...

"While it’s tempting to look for fancy prices, the list of R1 leaders in recent years throws up a lot of elite names – Rickie Fowler (2017), Dustin Johnson (2015), Henrik Stenson (2015), Martin Kaymer (2014), Phil Mickelson (2013) and Rory McIlroy (2011)."

Back Jason Day each-way @ 28/1

*EW Terms: 1/5 Odds | 8 Places

History: It's a long, long day, the Thursday of a US Open. The first three-balls head out at 06:45 local from both the 1st and 10th tees and the last pairings swish away at 14:42. There's a lot of foot traffic between those two times and it's no surprise that in five of the last six years, the leader/joint-leaders have all had morning starts. In three of the last four US Opens, a 65 has led the way.

Weather: It's been a dry build-up but there's a chance of t-storms on Wednesday which would soften the course a little for the morning starters on Thursday. Shinnecock is built on sand so the course would dry quickly. Winds are around 9mph for those with a.m. tee-times in round one and pick up a little in the afternoon.

Conclusion: All roads point to the morning starters if you're having a first-rounder leader bet.

Day can make hay

While it's tempting to look for fancy prices, the list of R1 leaders in recent years throws up a lot of elite names - Rickie Fowler (2017), Dustin Johnson (2015), Henrik Stenson (2015), Martin Kaymer (2014), Phil Mickelson (2013) and Rory McIlroy (2011).

I expect plenty of quality names on the leaderboard this week and one I'm happy to play is Jason Day.

The Aussie has two wins, a second and a fifth to his name this season so has been playing some superb golf. He also thrives in New York and has location form of 6-4-8 in his last three starts in the Big Apple.

In terms of starting out fast, Day's last three opening rounds read 68-69-69 while in this event he was T6 after round one at Merion in 2013 and T7 after the first day at Chambers Bay in 2015.

He was second after day one at both the US Masters and Open Championship in 2015 and in the US PGA he's ended the opening 18 nestled in the top six on three occasions.

That's a lot of fast starts in majors and a 07:40 tee-time suggests he can be one of the big names to make early headlines on Thursday.

The Aussies should like this windy, exposed test and the run-off areas around the greens will allow Day to show off his razor-sharp short game.

He's well worth a play at 28/1 for first-round leader.

Fowler to get off to a flyer

I've tipped Rickie Fowler in my outright preview and I don't hesitate to put him up in this market too.

We're eight places at Betfair and yet Fowler is still priced at an industry-high 35/1 to be leading after Thursday's play.

One very obvious reason is that the Californian was the first-round leader at Erin Hills last year after blasting a seven-under 65 form his 07:51 tee-time.

This time he heads out at 08:13 (again with Hideki Matsuyama in his group) so I'm hoping it's a case of history repeating itself.

He may not have won one but Fowler has a history of starting well in majors - especially those on home turf. In the Masters he was T4th after round in 2013, in this event he's been in the top seven on three occasions after the opening lap and he's ended Thursday in the top 10 at the last two US PGAs.

As for this season, he's been inside the top five after 18 holes five times and is ninth in Round 1 Scoring Average on the PGA Tour this season.

Runner-up at Augusta National, I think he'll absolutely love this course and hopefully he can pave the way to victory with another red-hot start.

Masters champ can shine again

Patrick Reed's last experience of a major was the ultimate one as he ended a golden week at Augusta National by winning the Green Jacket.

He'll be chomping at the bit to get going again and imagine the pride when he's announced on the first tee in his national Open as the Masters winner.

Reed got to Shinnecock early and likes what he sees.

Interviewed on Tuesday, the Augusta hero said: "This golf course is unbelievable. Ever since I showed up and I got on property, I've loved it ever since.

"I got here Sunday night. Last Sunday, right after Memorial. And I played in the member tournament on Monday, and I played every day except for Saturday. I took Saturday off and, you know, just been out here grinding, enjoying the area, and just having some fun."

Talking about past US Opens, he noted: "Oakmont definitely wasn't a drawer's golf course. Every iron shot had to be cutting, and I kind of struggled there.

"But I got to this golf course, and it seemed like it brought everything out. Even though it's a long golf course, you have to be able to work the ball both ways. You have to be able to flight the ball depending on wind. So any little detail of your golf game that's not on is going to be exposed.

"And I feel like it's a complete golf course, complete place, and you just need to be sharp in all aspects.

Reed won the 2016 Barclays in New York and his superb scrambling suggests he can have another strong week here on a course that demands creativity around the green.

As for making a mark early in majors, he was in the top four after 18 at Augusta, T7 after R1 at Erin Hills last year, T3 after Thursday's opener at Chambers Bay in 2015, T2 after one lap of the 2016 Open at Troon and T8 following day one of last summer's PGA Championship.

Reed is a fast starter in majors. Let's hope he can do it again from his 07:51 tee-time.

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

Staked: £300
Returned: £235
P/L: -£65
(After the Memorial Tournament)

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