WGC-Bridgestone Invitational: Three to play in the First Round Leader market

American Kyle Stanley
American Kyle Stanley can start fast
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Dave Tindall looks for early success in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone CC with these three picks...

"Kyle Stanley was fifth after round one at Memorial on his last trip to Ohio and went on to finish runner-up there. A couple of tournaments earlier he opened with another 67 to sit second after Thursday's action at Wells Fargo."

Back Kyle Stanley each-way @ 75/1

*EW Terms: 1/4 Odds | 5 Places

Weather forecast for Akron: Following rain in the build-up, there's the chance of a t-storm at 3pm on Thursday. Temperatures start at 71 degrees at 9am and rise to 83 degrees by 4pm. The winds are light from the SW.

First-round leader history: The limited field means less foot traffic and less of a gap between tee-times. It's still a two-tee start though, with the first groups going out at 9:20am and the final pairings at 2:30pm. Past R1 leaders haven't been the very elite names:

2017: Thomas Pieters 65 (8:30am)
2016: William McGirt 64 (10:24am)
2015: Danny Lee 65 (2:25pm)
2014: Marc Leishman 64 (1:00pm)

Tee-times for The last four R1 leaders have been spread throughout the day although note that Lee and Leishman were both in the penultimate group, perhaps highlighting that the greens won't have been too spiked up.

Plan of attack: History offers no obvious bias so the only angle could be that the afternoon starters could have their rounds disrupted by storms. That said, they could return to a softened course where it's easier to throw darts. Overall, I won't get too concerned about tee-times this week.

Side with Stanley

Kyle Stanley was fifth after round one at Memorial on his last trip to Ohio and went on to finish runner-up there.

A couple of tournaments earlier he opened with another 67 to sit second after Thursday's action at Wells Fargo.

The American is fifth in greens in regulation this year so has the ideal game to do well at Firestone and he played nicely at times at Carnoustie (middle rounds of 69) before taking T39 after a 76 finish.

Stanley was T16 on his WGC-Bridgestone debut in 2012, opening with a 69, and again fired 1-under on day one when returning to the tournament last year.

He looks just the sort of less obvious name who could start well here and the 75/1 is well worth a go.

Zach can attack early

Zach Johnson didn't have the weekend he wanted at Carnoustie but T17 represented a fourth straight top 20 finish, a run started at the US Open, while he was T8 after the opening 18 holes.

Two starts earlier, the two-time major champ had led the way with a 63 after day one of the Travelers Championship.

Johnson has a consistent record at Firestone and has twice been second after the opening lap.

In the last two years he's posted a 65, those scores helping him to T10 and runner-up. True, they weren't in round one but theu do represent proof that he can shoot low numbers there and 65s were good enough for the solo outright first-round lead in both 2015 and 2017.

Take Johnson at 45/1.

Brendan can Steele a march

Brendan Steele hasn't done anything too worthy of note at Firestone but a closing 66 on debut was a nice way to sign off (T48) and last year he shot a pair of 68s on the way to T24.

He's made some strong starts in recent big events, sitting T13 after R1 of the WGC-Mexico, T12 after 18 holes of the US Open and T5 after the first day of the Open Championship.

Steele was third for greens in regulation at Carnoustie and that hot iron play will translate very well to Firestone CC.

If the putter can back it up, the Californian an make an early mark at a tasty 95/1.

Tee-times: Stanley 9:40am, Johnson 1:40pm, Steele 1:40pm.

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

Staked: £540
Returned: £494.56
P/L: -£45.44

(After the Canadian Open)

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