Waste Management Phoenix Open First-Round Leader Tips: Kirk can beam us up at Scotty

American Chris Kirk
American Chris Kirk can burst out of the traps

The PGA Tour heads back to the desert and Dave Tindall has three each-way picks to be First Round Leader at TPC Scottsdale...

"Kirk has fired a 65 and three 66s on day one here. It means he's been in the top four after the first round in three of his last six visits."

Chris Kirk each-way @ 80/1

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

Weather forecast for Thursday: It's a cool start (ball won't fly much) for the very early tee-times but it only peaks in the mid-60s in the afternoon. Winds are fairly light throughout the day.

FRL history at TPC Scottsdale

2020 61 Wyndham Clark (pm)
2019 64 Rickie Fowler (am), Justin Thomas (am), Harold Varner (pm)
2018 64 Bill Haas (pm)
2017 64 Matt Kuchar (pm)
2016 65 Rickie Fowler (am), Shane Lowry (am), Hideki Matsuyama (pm)
2015 64 Ryan Palmer (pm)

Strategy: It's easy to think that the cold mornings and warmer afternoons favour later starters but the evidence is a little mixed: Looking at the last 10 it's 6-4 in favour of the later starters. It doesn't exactly get that warm later on but I'll favour the p.m. wave though and go for a 1:2 split.

Count on Kirk

Chris Kirk is in a fine run of form after three top 20s in this last four starts.

The first in that stretch came at the RSM Classic in November and since the calendar flipped over to 2021 he's been runner-up at the Sony Open and T16 at The American Express.

He started with a 65 at the Sony to sit inside the top 10 after 18 holes while he also started well at The American Express with a 68.

As for this event, he's a consistent cut-maker but the notable part of his TPC Scottsdale form is how well he starts.

Kirk has fired a 65 and three 66s on day one. It means he's been in the top four after the first round in three of his last six visits.

He's in the first group out in the second wave so will have slightly warmer temperatures.

Look to desert rat Laird

Martin Laird has built up an excellent body of work in the desert, his latest high point coming when taking victory in October's Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

While not landing this title, it's an event he clearly enjoys after four top 10s in the last 10 years.

His best scoring has come on day one (averages 68.92) and from 2015 to 2019 his end-of-R1 positions at TPC Scottsdale read: 5-30-9-12-4.

In his last two desert openers, he's set out with a 65 at the Shriners and a 66 at The American Express

An afternoon tee-time could work in his favour again so the Scot goes into the staking plan.

Fowler can start fast again

Rickie Fowler may have to blow on his hands for the first few holes but I'm hoping he's still able to make a big impact from his morning tee-time.

Fowler's first-round history in this event is second to none. In the last four years he's twice held the lead after Thursday's action via a 64 in 2019 and a 65 in 2016.

He was also second after the opening lap in 2018. Last year was a different story but he fired a 65 on day two to remind us that he can consistently go low around this desert track.

Fowler didn't perform to expectations in 2020 but there are some more promising signs of late. He was T21 at The American Express and again had good Tee-To-Green numbers when playing all four rounds at Torrey Pines last week.

He putts these greens well - ranked 1st in SG: Putting when he won here in 2019 - and is worth a FRL punt at 40/1.

Staked: £120
Returned: £0
P/L: -£120

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