WGC-HSBC Champions: Three to play in the First Round Leader market

American Keegan Bradley
Keegan Bradley can burst out of the traps

Dave Tindall looks at the opening round of the WGC-HSBC Champions and has three picks to make a fast start...

"With this market in mind, the standout score was Bradley’s opening 65 in 2011 which gave him the first-round lead although three 68s from Friday to Sunday in 2013 offer further evidence that it’s a course he gets on well with."

Keegan Bradley An each-way @ 50/1

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

Weather forecast for Shanghai, China: There's very little change throughout the day with temperatures hovering around 70, plenty of sunshine and winds of 8mph-10mph.

Tee-times: As with the last two weeks, the 78-man field means there's just a two-hour gap between the first and last groups (two tees are used). Therefore, there's no morning/afternoon advantage. Play starts at 08:50 local.

Keegan can score early

Keegan Bradley is making his first start in the WGC-HSBC Champions for four years and past history suggests he can have a strong week.

The American was T16 on debut in 2011 and returned two years later to post T11.

With this market in mind, the standout score was Bradley's opening 65 in 2011 which gave him the first-round lead although three 68s from Friday to Sunday in 2013 offer further evidence that it's a course he gets on well with.

Bradley secured his return with a victory in the BMW Championship last month - his first win for six years. He shot a pair of 64s when lifting the trophy there and also a carded a 63 and a 64 when cracking the top four in the Canadian Open at the end of July so he's shooting the low numbers required from a FRL selection.

As for starting fast, he's been in the top five after Thursday's play at last month's Dell Technologies, the Greenbrier, the Texas Open and the Valspar Championship while he was also in the top 10 after round one at the Wells Fargo and Memorial Tournament.

In other words, there's enough there to suggest he can hit the ground running on his return.

Bradley, who likes the bentgrass greens at Sheshan, was T19 at the CIMB Classic a couple of weeks ago after closing with scores of 67-68-66 so that should set him up nicely here.

Back him for first-round leader at 50s.

Wallace can produce early wow

In terms of recent events, Matt Wallace is the fastest starter in golf right now.

Looking at his last three events, the Englishman was second after day one in the Portugal Masters thanks to a 64 while he had a piece of the first-round lead at both the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and British Masters.

This isn't a new phenomenon either. Wallace had the lead after the opening lap three times in 2017 (Open de Portugal, Made In Denmark and Italian Open) and just to prove he can do it in this part of the globe too, the four-time European Tour winner was second after round one of this year's China Open.

Wallace finished third in that event so will have some good vibes ahead of his debut in this event and I'm not concerned he's seeing this course for the first time. The 28-year-old is clearly a very fast learner.

The last time we saw him in this sort of company, he banked a hole-in-one in the company of Jordan Spieth and went on to finish T19 in the US PGA Championship so he's comfortable amongst such elite opposition.

Whether he can get the better of his 77 rivals over four days is open to debate but I like him to make an immediate impact over 18.

Harman to get hot from the off

For a final bet, I'll have a punt on Brian Harman.

The American finished T8 on debut last year, the second leg of a stretch of five straight top 10s.

He's not found those levels for a while but in last week's CJ Cup he recovered from an opening 76 in bad weather to shoot a 64 in round two and close with a 68 for T36.

Harman has been in the top 10 after the opening circuit in seven of his starts in 2018 and his ability to throw in low rounds makes him an eye-catching proposition for FRL backers.

The left-hander is a proven performer on bentgrass greens and his straight hitting should go a long way to keeping him out of trouble on a course where doubles lurk due to the amount of water.

He didn't have any blowouts last year and his tally of just six bogeys was three less than winner Justin Rose.

Harman is a top 50 player but always under the radar a little and 80/1 for a quick start looks decent business.

Dave's 2018 R1 leader P/L (based on £5 ew per selection)

Staked: £870
Returned: £666.03
P/L: -£203.97

(After the CJ Cup)

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