Paul Williams

Paul Williams' Open Championship FRL Tips 2022

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For full FRL stats for the 2022 Open with tee times added click here.

The First Round Leader (FRL) market is fascinating given there are many ways to review the data to hand, especially at the Open Championship which uses a course rota system.

How does the weather forecast impact conditions? Will it be softer earlier, windier for some, warmer for others? What tee times have the recent FRL winners had? Have the recent FRL winners started well in an Open Championship in the past? Have the recent FRL winners started well in their recent events; have they even been playing well in recent events?

Lots of questions and the odd red herring along the way I’m sure, however I think there are a few factors to consider which might help point us in the right direction.

First up the weather: Met Office | BBC Forecast

Both forecasts suggest a largely dry day with temperatures picking up to around 18 Centigrade / 64 Fahrenheit in the afternoon. The breeze won’t be excessive although there’s enough of a hint that the morning wave will enjoy calmer conditions with 8mph at 7am picking up to 14mph by 4pm, although this is coastal golf and all that could change in the next 24 hours of course.

Conditions underfoot are firm with dry conditions in the lead up to the event, so any overnight watering should also marginally favour those with an early tee time.

open championship tips

Going back to 2012 and Royal Lytham, 11 players have shared the First Round Leader market spoils over 9 renewals; 8 of those 11 players teed off in the morning. Although that’s hardly a representative sample size, it does however tell a story about course conditions plus more receptive greens for the early starters. But as Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar and JB Holmes proved in 2016, 2017 and 2019 respectively, late starters can start fast, especially if a weather window appears.

Looking at FRL market winners since 2012, we’re talking about an elite group of players – with 21 Major titles between them, it’s a high quality bunch:


  • 07:52 – 2018: Carnoustie, Kevin Kisner
  • 08:42 – 2012: Royal Lytham, Adam Scott
  • 09:26 – 2014: Hoylake, Rory McIlroy
  • 09:33 – 2015: St Andrews, Dustin Johnson
  • 09:47 – 2017: Royal Birkdale, Jordan Spieth
  • 09:58 – 2021: Royal St George’s, Louis Oosthuizen
  • 10:06 – 2013: Muirfield, Zach Johnson
  • 10:09 – 2017: Royal Birkdale, Brooks Koepka


  • 13:26 – 2016: Royal Troon, Phil Mickelson
  • 13:37 – 2017: Royal Birkdale, Matt Kuchar
  • 14:26 – 2019: Royal Portrush, JB Holmes

If we look back at 2015 when The Open last visited St Andrews, Dustin Johnson led after 18 holes with an opening round of 65, with 6 players tied for 2nd a shot further back. The tee times from the top 7 after 18 holes were as follows:

  • 1st. Dustin Johnson: 09:33
  • 2nd. Zach Johnson: 13:01
  • 2nd. Jason Day: 09:55
  • 2nd. Danny Willett: 13:12
  • 2nd. Robert Streb: 07:16
  • 2nd. Retief Goosen: 07:49
  • 2nd. Paul Lawrie: 09:44

So eventual FRL leader Dustin Johnson was a morning starter, as were 4 of the 6 players who shot 66 to sit a stroke off the lead, which adds a little more weight to the argument that an early tee time on Thursday may well be favourable.

2022 First Round Leader Bookmaker Open Championship Promotions

First Round Leader punters often get forgotten about by the bookmakers, but that certainly isn’t the case at the 2022 Open Championship.

boylesports 8 Places Each-Way at 1/5 Odds

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Rory McIlroy 2pts EW 22/1 (7EW, 1/5) with William Hill

  • Open Starts: 6
  • Open FRL Best: 1st (2010, 2014)
  • Open FRL Top-8s: 5
  • Last 6 Event FRL Form: 17/1/21/5/2/1
  • Tee Time: 9.58am

A mid-morning tee time for Rory McIlroy is the green light to back him at around twice his outright odds, yet 33 FRLs in his career balances with 33 outright victories and suggests that one or other of the prices is wrong. I’d wager that the FRL bet carries a little bit of value in that respect.

5 of those FRLs have come in the Northern Irishman’s last 17 starts, included in which was an opening round of 65 at the US PGA Championship in May, plus an opening round of 62 last time out at the Travelers Championship, and the reality is that if there’s any criticism of Rory’s play of late then it’s been how he’s performed after these fast starts, rather than sluggish Thursdays.

Of course, a closing 62 to take the Canadian Open a month ago is the exception to the rule, however it’s fair to say that strong positions at both the US PGA and US Open haven’t been capitalised upon.

Twice the Open Championship leader after 18 holes, his fast start in 2014 at Royal Liverpool led to a wire-to-wire victory and his to date only success in golf’s oldest Major; the other FRL came here at St Andrews in 2010. 63 to open that week was followed by a disastrous 80 in the Friday wind, however he’s clearly shown the aptitude to score on this course and another blistering start is quite possible. RESULT: 2nd

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Cameron Tringale 1pt EW 125/1 (5EW, 1/4) with BetVictor

  • Open Starts: 3
  • Open FRL Best: 32nd (2021)
  • Open FRL Top-8s: 0
  • Last 6 Event FRL Form: 56/91/59/42/109/1
  • Tee Time: 7.52am

Thursdays tend to be less of an issue than Sundays for Cameron Tringale as 4 career FRLs versus no individual PGA Tour titles is testament. 61 to open last week at Renaissance was the 34 year-old’s lowest professional round, and not entirely dissimilar conditions this week up the coast in Scotland could produce another fast start.

One thing that often catches the eye when working through FRL stats each week is that fast starts can often come in quick succession; indeed in this week’s stats, JT Poston and Haotong Li have both achieved FRLs in consecutive starts as they’ve seemingly got the taste for low rounds on Thursdays. As a 3-figure chance, I’m happy to take a punt that Cameron can follow their lead.

Looking at some recent FRL winners at The Open, Jordan Spieth (2017), Dustin Johnson (2015), Rory McIlroy (2014) and Zach Johnson (2013) had all led after the first round on their previous outing globally to suggest that this is a more common occurrence than you might expect.

Rory completed the Scottish Open/Open Championship FRL double back in 2014; although I’m not suggesting that Tringale completes the sequence and wins his maiden Open title this week, perhaps he can get out of the blocks quickly once again. RESULT: 35th

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Kevin Kisner 1pt EW 140/1 (5EW, 1/4) with bet365

  • Open Starts: 6
  • Open FRL Best: 1st (2018)
  • Open FRL Top-8s: 1
  • Last 6 Event FRL Form: 91/128/56/91/76/15
  • Tee Time: 10.31am

I’ll complete my trio of Thursday hopefuls with Kevin Kisner, who Steve Bamford has quite rightly added to his outright market longshots team.

5 career FRLs from 340 starts at the various levels doesn’t overly excite, however 2 of those have come at Majors – the 2017 US PGA Championship and the 2018 Open – and the promise of a firm, fast renewal this week encourages a bet on Kisner who often struggles with the dimensions of the US-hosted Majors.

66 to open at Carnoustie came in firm conditions and he stuck around for the duration, eventually finishing 2 shots shy of Francesco Molinari’s 8-under total after a final round 74.

4th at The PLAYERS in March and a losing finalist at the WGC Match Play a fortnight later promised so much for a strong 2022 campaign from the 38 year-old, however he’s been largely off the boil since – until that is he shot rounds of 67. 64 and 66 at The Travelers last time out to give himself a live chance of a 5th PGA Tour title. A little rust in contention might explain a closing round of 71 for a tie for 6th, however that was a welcome return to form nevertheless and perhaps he can build on that early this week with a rapid start to his 7th Open Championship. RESULT: 101st

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 06:55BST 13.7.22 but are naturally subject to fluctuation.