Steve Bamford Golf Tips

Steve Bamford's Open Championship FRL Tips 2019

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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 probably too many levels of complexity!

Going back to 2012 and Royal Lytham, 9 players have shared the First Round Leader market spoils over 7 renewals; 7 of those 9 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. In general, First Round Leader wins are statistically more prone for morning wavers.  But as Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar both proved in 2016 and 2017 respectively, late starters can start fast, especially if a weather window appears.

I’ve been tracking multiple weather forecasts across the UK Met Office, BBC and Windfinder since Monday morning and they’ve constantly changed. However I write this within 18 hours of the first tee time and now there appears to be some correlation. Undoubtedly Thursday will be the toughest day of the 2019 Open. Rain looks to be a factor from 09:00 right through till lunchtime. But from 14:00 onwards the chance of rain drops below 50% and continues to drop away. Wind will also be a factor, with winds averaging 15-25mph throughout the morning and into lunchtime / early afternoon. The wind could then subside just a tad for the afternoon starters, but undoubtedly with less chance of rain. In conclusion it looks like a very, very tough day for all with little draw bias. However with many of the elite players going out post 14:30, many of them will find themselves on a lush golf course with potentially less wind as play moves towards the early evening.

Looking at FRL market winners since 2012, we’re talking about an elite group of players – with 20 Major titles between them, it’s a high quality bunch:

AM

  • 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
  • 10:06 – 2013 – Muirfield – Zach Johnson
  • 10:09 – 2017 – Royal Birkdale – Brooks Koepka
  • 07:52 – 2018 – Carnoustie – Kevin Kisner

PM

  • 13:26 – 2016 – Royal Troon – Phil Mickelson
  • 13:37 – 2017 – Royal Birkdale – Matt Kuchar

The timings of their endeavours can also be perceived as enlightening. With players on the course at the Open Championship from 06:35, the earliest a First Round Leader has set off in our 7 year sample is 07:52. Past that point, there’s a definite 90 minute ‘sweet spot’ when a selection of the best players start their tournaments. From there we then jump to a small timeframe post-13:30 where again a small selection of elite players go out. Naturally though, by the coast the weather plays a huge part in the equation, so I’m taking the view that with potentially slightly better weather and with the 2019 green spike rule protecting putting surfaces, late starters might just have a slight advantage at Royal Portrush.

2019 Key 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 2019 Open Championship.

8 Places Each-Way at 1/5 Odds

Betfair Sportsbook, Boylesports and Paddy Power have all gone 8 places each-way at 1/5 odds across Thursday’s opening round action. As we went to release this preview, Betfair Sportsbook and Paddy Power were by far and away the best of the 8 places 1/5 odds brigade on best odds available. Naturally the advantage with 8 places each-way being that there are 3 more paying places to fill as opposed to a group of bookmakers who are simply handing out the standard 5 places each-way at 1/4 odds.

✅ Up to £100 in free bets for new customers using code ZBBC01 and this qualifying link
✅ Bet on Betfair fixed odds sportsbook or Betfair Exchange from a single account
✅ Offered 10 places each-way 1/5 odds at all 4 Majors in 2019

Betfair New Customer Offer: Place 5 x £10 or more bets to receive £20 in free bets. Repeat up to 5 times to receive maximum £100 bonus. Min odds 1/2 (1.5). Exchange bets excluded. T&Cs apply.

✅ £/€20 risk-free bet offer for new customers using code YSKA45 and this qualifying link
✅ Paddy’s most popular new customer offer for Golf Betting System visitors
✅ Offered 10 places each-way 1/5 odds at all 4 Majors in 2019

Paddy Power New Customer Offer: New customers only. Limited to one per person. If you’ve previously had a Paddy Power account, you will not qualify for the offer. Place your FIRST bet on any sportsbook market and if it loses Paddy Power will refund your stake in CASH. Max refund for this offer is £/€20. Only deposits made using cards or PayPal will qualify for this promotion. T&Cs apply.

Overall Best Odds + 7 Places Each-Way at 1/5 Odds

If you want to take the very best odds available, taking a snapshot of the top 20 in the First Round Leader market at 14:30 on Wednesday 17th July 2019, Unibet dominated. Indeed they offered industry best (or joint industry best) odds across 15 of the top 20 players in the market and remember they are offering a boosted 7 places each-way at 1/5 odds. And as you can see below, I have backed a couple with Unibet.

✅ Bet £20 Get £40 in bonuses for new customers using this qualifying link
✅ Early odds available each week on the PGA Tour and European Tour
✅ Strong odds on First Round Leader market

Unibet New Customer Offer: New customers only. 18+. BeGambleAware.org Minimum deposit is £10. Place any sportsbook bet (except Racing) of £20+ at minimum odds of 2/5 (1.40) to receive your free bets and casino bonus. 35x wagering requirement on casino bonus. Free bet will expire 7 days after opt-in. £20 casino bonus will expire after 30 days of opt-in. Further Terms and Conditions Apply.

  • Comparison took place at 14:30 UK time on Wednesday 17th July 2019, comparing the live odds within the 2019 Open Championship First Round Leader market of bet365, Betfair Sportsbook, Betfred, BetVictor, Boylesports, Coral, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power, Skybet, Unibet and William Hill.

I have 3 selections going off in the 07:41, 12:53, and 15:21 groups. My First Round Leader selections are as follows:

Matt Kuchar 1pt EW FRL 50/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Unibet

The very first on my shortlist for this was Matt Kuchar who tees it up at 15:21 alongside Jon Rahm and Patrick Cantlay. Experienced, gritty and a grinder when the going gets tough, Kuchar has a strong links golf record in the United Kingdom. 2nd in the 2015 Scottish Open held at Gullane and 4th at the 2017 Scottish Open held at Dundonald Links, the 41 year-old who hails from St Simons Island, Georgia also has a strong Open Championship record, which holds him in good stead when it comes to the challenges that Royal Portrush on Thursday will present.

9th in 2012 at Royal Lytham, 2nd in 2017 at Royal Birkdale and 9th at Carnoustie 12 months ago, Matt is undoubtedly one of America’s finest American coastal golf players. But he’s also a fast starter. Already across the current PGA Tour season he’s placed 1st (Mayakoba), 3rd (Waialae), 3rd (Mexico) and 7th (Canada) after Round 1 and his opening round scoring average of 68.13 ranks him Number 1 on Tour. We know that he was the joint-leader on Thursday with Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka at Royal Birkdale 2 years ago, so has form in that respect, plus he also co-led the Scottish Open after Round 1 last week, starting in the afternoon wave.

✅ Bet £20 Get £40 in bonuses for new customers using this qualifying link
✅ Early odds available each week on the PGA Tour and European Tour
✅ Strong odds on First Round Leader market

Unibet New Customer Offer: New customers only. 18+. BeGambleAware.org Minimum deposit is £10. Place any sportsbook bet (except Racing) of £20+ at minimum odds of 2/5 (1.40) to receive your free bets and casino bonus. 35x wagering requirement on casino bonus. Free bet will expire 7 days after opt-in. £20 casino bonus will expire after 30 days of opt-in. Further Terms and Conditions Apply.

Justin Thomas 1pt EW FRL 40/1 (7EW, 1/5) With Unibet

In a group of First Round Leaders at The Open whom since 2012 have 20 major titles between them, Justin Thomas wouldn’t look out of place either. Slowly but surely starting to build momentum after his injury induced mid-season slump, JT must be looking forward to the Open Championship with optimism.

A fast-finishing (he shot -6/65 on Sunday) 9th place at Renaissance last week was his best finish since February and despite playing poorly on Saturday, it was the first time we’ve seen the World Number 9 in contention since Riviera Country Club back in the winter. And as we know, a Thomas who is just starting to make a few more putts is a dangerous proposition as he ranks 3rd for Strokes Gained on Approach and 2nd for Strokes Gained Tee to Green on the PGA Tour. He also ranks 3rd for Round 1 Scoring Average (68.79) on the Tour and already this season he’s been 6th (Malaysia), 2nd (Kapalua), 1st (TPC Scottsdale), 3rd (Riviera) and 3rd (Mexico) at the close of play on Thursday. Ah but I can hear many readers saying that he struggles at the Open Championship, and that is more than a fair point with a record that reads 53-MC-MC on his 3 appearances. But for the purposes of First Round Leader bets he’s been 4th (2016 Royal Troon), 6th (2017 Royal Birkdale) and 8th (2018 Carnoustie) after Round 1, so clearly he likes a fast start on these shores. Could ‘surprise’ from a 12:53 tee time in a threesome which contains Fleetwood and Olesen.

✅ Bet £20 Get £40 in bonuses for new customers using this qualifying link
✅ Early odds available each week on the PGA Tour and European Tour
✅ Strong odds on First Round Leader market

Unibet New Customer Offer: New customers only. 18+. BeGambleAware.org Minimum deposit is £10. Place any sportsbook bet (except Racing) of £20+ at minimum odds of 2/5 (1.40) to receive your free bets and casino bonus. 35x wagering requirement on casino bonus. Free bet will expire 7 days after opt-in. £20 casino bonus will expire after 30 days of opt-in. Further Terms and Conditions Apply.

Eddie Pepperell 1pt EW FRL 66/1 (8EW, 1/5) With Betfair

It’s links golf and placing all your eggs in one basket is a dangerous move, especially across 18 holes. With the likelihood of rain not guaranteed and with the wind likely to be at its lowest point for the very early starters, getting links expert Eddie Pepperell on-side could be a very good thing.

Off at 07:41, Pepperell may be able to get off to a good start with fresh greens. First Round Leader in Qatar – a tournament he went on to win – 3rd after Round 1 at the KLM Open, 2nd after Round 1 in Portugal and 1st after Round 1 at the British Masters, all in 2018, highlight that the Oxfordshire man can start quickly on tests that he enjoys, and undoubtedly Pepperell has been delivering strong results in 2019. 3rd at the Players Championship, 16th at the RBC Heritage, 2nd at the British Masters and 4th at the Irish Open within his last 8 appearances have seen the Twitter star jump to World Number 35 and a breakthrough week at Royal Portrush would see him jump further still. When confident, the First Round performances tend to flow and Eddie was 3rd on Thursday night at Lahinch a fortnight ago. I genuinely think that Royal Portrush will suit Eddie this week, so here’s hoping for a fast start.

✅ Up to £100 in free bets for new customers using code ZBBC01 and this qualifying link
✅ Bet on Betfair fixed odds sportsbook or Betfair Exchange from a single account
✅ Offered 10 places each-way 1/5 odds at all 4 Majors in 2019

Betfair New Customer Offer: Place 5 x £10 or more bets to receive £20 in free bets. Repeat up to 5 times to receive maximum £100 bonus. Min odds 1/2 (1.5). Exchange bets excluded. T&Cs apply.

Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 14:50BST 17.7.19 but naturally subject to fluctuation.