Valero Texas Open First-Round Leader Tips: Laird can go low on day one

Scotland's Martin Laird
Scotland's Martin Laird can lead early

The PGA Tour stays in Texas and Dave Tindall has three each-way picks to be First Round Leader at TPC San Antonio...

"Laird posted his fourth PGA Tour win as recently as October when winning in Las Vegas and although his bare results since haven't been much, he has had a couple of promising starts."

Back Martin Laird E/W @ 100/1

Each-way terms: 1/5 odds, 6 places

Weather forecast for Thursday: "It's very rare you get to play it without a 15-mile an hour wind and it looks like we're going to get that again this week," said Texas local Jordan Spieth in his Tuesday press conference. That looks a fair assessment, with the wind set to blow around that or perhaps a fraction under for most of the golfing day. The sun will be out but temperatures are fairly modest (mid-60s).

FRL history at TPC San Antonio

2019 - 66 Si Woo Kim (am)
2018 - 67 Grayson Murray (am)
2017 - 66 Branden Grace (am)
2016 - 64 Brendan Steele (pm)
2015 - 67 Charley Hoffman (pm)
2014 - 67 Andrew Loupe (pm)

Strategy: With wind a factor all day, there's no obvious advantage for either wave so I'll just pick freely without looking too much at tee times. There's been a mix of am/pm R1 leaders so there isn't any strong historical bias to dissuade me from that.

Look to Laird

Martin Laird is a former course winner having shot a closing 63 in 2013 to beat none other than Rory McIlroy by two. That followed a tied ninth on debut.

Since then he's added another top 20 in 2017 and tied 11th in 2018 when firing a 65 on day two.

A few years ago, the Scot said: "This course sets up nice for me. Lot of the tee shots that I feel comfortable with. I like to move the ball left to right and there seems to be a number of tee shots out here if you can cut it it helps.

"It's nice to the eye and that always helps, and obviously having success here in the past I come here and come back to this venue and hopefully can get up there again this week."

Laird posted his fourth PGA Tour victory as recently as October when winning in Las Vegas and although his bare results since haven't been much, he has had a couple of promising starts.

At The American Express he was third after 18 holes thanks to a 66 while two starts ago at Bay Hill - the scene of another past win - Laird was seventh after the opening lap and second at halfway.

He has an afternoon tee-time at 1:15pm and looks overpriced at 100/1 to be FRL.

Pick Palmer to impress on first day

Ryan Palmer has plenty of local experience having been a former resident of San Antonio. And that's translated into some excellent results.

Ryan Palmer 1280.jpg

He was T9 on debut, added a top 15 in 2013 and reeled off a hat-trick of top six finishes (6-4-6) from 2015 to 2017.

Palmer said after the last of those: "Obviously this one means a lot. I lived here for a few years. Lot of great friends out here in San Antonio. I've had some success here playing in these conditions. That's what helped drive me today, knowing I can play in the winds and this golf course, it's a driver's golf course."

He's had some eye-catching finishes in the current campaign, including second place at the Farmers Insurance, fourth at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and T17 at The Players Championship.

You'll also find Palmer ranked 8th for R1 Scoring on the PGA Tour this season, his 10 openers averaging 69.10. He's been in the top six after day one on three occasions.

He's my safer play of the three at 40/1 and hopefully he can thrive from his 08:09 tee-time.

Ghim for the win

Doug Ghim has some local knowledge having had a decorated amateur career at Texas University.

A runner-up in the 2017 US Amateur, he also finished as Low Amateur on his Masters debut in 2018.

Since turning pro, we've seen flashes of his excellence and the most recent came at The Players Championship earlier this month.

Ghim was third after 54 holes and in the shake-up to win but went backwards during a closing 78.

That will be money in the bank in terms of experience and a first win may not be far away.

What we know for now is that he can start fast and shoot low rounds. Ghim opened with 64 at the Bermuda Championship to sit second after Thursday's play and was third after 18 holes of the RSM Classic.

He was also in the top six following the first day of The American Express while a Saturday 65 at Bay Hill again showed that on any given day he can rack up the birdies.

Ghim is 18th in R1 Scoring this season and hopefully he can do some damage on his course debut.

A 12th place in another Texas event, the 2019 Byron Nelson, bodes well for the 80/1 shot, who heads out at 1:48pm.

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