US Masters Betting: First Round Leader Market

Rory McIlroy – great value to lead after round one according to Steve
Rory McIlroy – great value to lead after round one according to Steve

Steve takes a look at the 1st Round Leader market where he likes a nice early start, the tournament favourite, last week's winner, and a far less obvious Englishman...


“Rory McIlroy has a great record of starting fast and he’s led or tied for the lead 21 times on the European and PGA Tours since 2008 – including here in 2011.”

I've concentrated on the early starters on Thursday for three reasons. The course will be at it's very best in the morning on day one, what little wind there is forecast is due to arrive later in the day, and thirdly, backing the early starters offers up a great opportunity to trade, and hopefully take some profit, as the afternoon wares on and full live coverage hits the TV screens.

That's all assuming that play continues uninterrupted of course. With storms forecast, there's always a chance of a suspension of play at some stage.

Tournament favourite, Rory McIlroy, at a double-figure price, looks well-worth chancing here. He has a great record of starting fast and has led or tied for the lead 21 times on the European and PGA Tours since 2008 - including here in 2011. Given that's actually more times than he's won worldwide, with a tee-off time of 15:41 BST (which is a morning start in America) and at more than twice the price he is to win the tournament, I couldn't leave him out.

Last week's winner, JB Holmes, currently ranks tied 5th on the Round 1 Scoring Average stats on the PGA Tour this year and I can see him riding the momentum provided by last week's win in Houston. In his last five starts on the PGA Tour he's led twice and sat second once (last week) after round one and he's playing in the three-ball that follows Rory so he has a decent enough draw.

I was quite tempted to play one of my five outright picks, Patrick Reed, who ranks 9th on the Round 1 Scoring Average stats but instead my third and final pick is a bit of chancy one.

Justin Rose hasn't been starting well of late and he isn't even in particularly great form but he showed signs of life in Texas last week and I have a feeling he may just play better than expected this week.

Now that he's won a major (the 2013 US Open) he's obviously going to be more comfortable playing in them and it makes sense for him to prioritise them much higher than any other tournament. He was tied 14th here last year and the worst he performed in any of the last year's majors was tied 24th in the USPGA so that appears to be the case but what I really like about Rose is that he's already shown an aptitude for getting out of the blocks fast at Augusta.

Rose has already ended the first round in front in a US Masters three times, in 2004, 2007 and 2008, and playing alongside last year's champ, Bubba Watson, at 14:24 on Thursday, looks like an inspiring plum draw. I'm much keener on my first two selections at the prices but a small bet on Rose, given his incredible record here, made sense.


Selections
Rory McIlroy @ 14.013/1
JB Holmes @ 50/1 (Sportsbook)
Justin Rose @ 46.045/1


I'll be back on Friday morning when I kick of my In-Play Blog.


*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter


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