US PGA Championship: Three to play in the First Round Leader market
After landing a 75/1 place with Kyle Stanley last week, Dave Tindall looks for early success in the US PGA at Bellerive with these three picks...
"The American is 25th in Driving Distance this season and heads out at 08:07 so looks to have exactly what we're looking for."
*EW Terms: 1/5 Odds | 8 Places
Weather forecast for Bellerive: Heavy rain in the build-up has softened the course and caused delays to Tuesday's practice rounds. For Thursday's opener, the sun should shine while temperatures climb into the 90s in the afternoon. Wind is a non-factor.
First-round leader history: An early starter has either led on his own or had a share of the lead after round one in each of the last seven US PGAs. Overall, eight of the last 11 to have had a piece of top spot from 2011-2017 started in the a.m. wave.
Plan of attack: With players noting that these greens can become spiked up in the afternoon and the course playing long, the best strategy should be to look for a big hitter with a morning tee-time. History supports the idea of siding with an a.m. starter but I'll hedge a little and play one in the afternoon as well .
Dechambeau can go low early
Perhaps showing a hangover from his petulant finish to the European Open, Bryson DeChambeau opened with a 75 Firestone last week.
However, he improved his score each day (75-69-68-67) and I'm hoping he'll keep the sequence going in Thursday's first round at Bellerive.
He'd started with a 66 in Germany the previous week to lead after day one while another 66 two starts earlier put him T9 after the first round of the Travelers.
Second after R1 in Phoenix and fourth after R1 at Bay Hill, he definitely knows how to get out of the blocks fast and those with good memories may recall him coming to the European Tour as an amateur in 2016 and leading with an opening 64 in Abu Dhabi.
The American is 25th in Driving Distance this season and heads out at 08:07 so looks to have exactly what we're looking for. Take him at 60/1.
Score with Keegan
My first idea of a R1 leader was Tony Finau but his price has crashed to 35/1 which puts me off.
I also looked at 60/1 Phil Mickelson while any of Rory McIlroy (25/1), Justin Thomas (28/1) or Jason Day (35/1) leading early wouldn't surprise me as they go out in the morning wave.
Instead I'll turn to another former US PGA champion at 80/1.
Keegan Bradley averages over 300 yards off the tee (51st DD), pegs it up at 08:01 local time and has a recent history of low first-round scores.
Starting with March's Valspar Championship, Bradley has finished R1 in the top seven on four occasions and also ended T9 after the first lap once.
His latest low one came with a R1 65 at The Greenbrier which put him T5.
The 2011 US PGA winner should have plenty of confidence after finishing tied fourth in Canada two weeks ago. He shot a 63 on day two and a closing 64 so that recent experience of going low, although it wasn't on day one, will stand him in good stead.
He was T6 after his opener when winning this event while he's also finished in the top six after R1 of the 2014 US Open and 2016 Open Championship.
Bradley traditionally favours bentgrass greens (grew up on them) over other putting surfaces and his No.1 ranking in Total Driving this year makes him a good fit for Bellerive.
Rahm can roar out of the gate
While Jon Rahm's record in the majors has big holes in it, I still like him to make a big impression early here.
The Spaniard has been getting off to good starts all season and a R1 64 put him T4 at Firestone last week.
Prior to that, despite missing the cut he was actually T8 after day one of The Open at Carnoustie and left a putt on the 18th hanging on the lip.
Add in a good opener in Paris and Rahm's end-of-round one positions in his last four starts read: 4-8-92-7.
Also third after his opening lap at the Open de Espana, Rahm was the first-round leader via a 62 in the CareerBuilder Challenge in January and then produced R1 positions of 4-7-8-7 in his next four starts.
That makes good reading with eight payout places on offer and I'll take him at an industry-best 35/1 to make a big early roar on a course that should suit. He heads out at 13:37 local.
Dave's 2017/18 R1 leader P/L (based on £5 ew per selection)
(After the WGC-Bridgestone)