Paul Williams

Paul Williams' The Masters 2020 FRL Tips

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First Round Leader Market

Check out our First Round Leader form stats, history stats and tee times here.

The First Round Leader (FRL) market is fascinating given there are many ways to review the data to hand.

How does the weather forecast impact conditions? Will it be softer earlier, firmer later, windier for some, warmer for others? What tee times have the recent FRL winners had? Have the recent FRL winners started well here 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, some recent history of FRL winners here:

  • 2019: Bryson Dechambeau (66), 1.38pm tee time; Brooks Koepka (66), 2.00pm tee time. Big hitters Bryson and Brooks shared the spoils after 18 holes, each shooting 6-under par from late tee times. DeChambeau didn’t have much in the way of immediate form, however he had won the Dubai Desert Classic earlier that year on the European Tour after sitting in 2nd place after the first day. Koepka had finished runner-up at the Honda Classic earlier in the season from a 6th place position after day 1, however that again was the most tangible pointer for this, albeit quite distant.
  • 2018: Jordan Spieth (66), 1.49pm tee time. The third time that Spieth had finished as FRL here at Augusta came after a closing round of 66 in Houston the week before, which was the 2nd best effort on show that day, that catapulted him into 3rd place overall.
  • 2017: Charley Hoffman (65), 1.08pm tee time. Hoffman had finished 2nd at the Arnold Palmer invitational two events prior, opening with a round of 68 (3rd place).
  • 2016: Jordan Spieth (66), 9.48am tee time. Jordan had already won that season at Kapalua, plus had recorded a 67 (t10) to open with in Houston.
  • 2015: Jordan Spieth (64), 1.15pm tee time. Incoming form of 1/2/2 prior to leading here after Thursday and eventually winning the Green Jacket.
  • 2014: Bill Haas (68), 10.08am tee time. Incoming for of 6/14/37 and had been tied for the lead in Houston (65) after the first round.
  • 2013: Marc Leishman; Sergio Garcia (66), 9.28am, 12.57 tee times. Leishman’s effort was out of the blue really as he’d struggled of late, whereas Sergio had been playing nicely and had recently tied for the FRL lead at Doral (66) and was 2nd after round 1 at Riviera (65)
  • 2012: Lee Westwood (67), 12.48pm tee time. Incoming form of 2/4/4/29/21 and had opened with a solid round of 68 at Houston the week before.
  • Going back further still, in 2011 Rory McIlroy (9.24am) and Alvaro Quiros (1.59pm) tied for the lead with rounds of 65; Fred Couples shot a 66 from a 12.58 tee time in 2010 to lead on his own; Chad Campbell’s 12.35 tee time produced an opening 65 in 2009; Trevor Immelman and Justin Rose shared the lead in 2008 with rounds of 68 from 11.40am and 10.56 tee times respectively.

What stands out to me is that if we go back to 2007, the final group of the day has produced a top-5 finisher on 7 of the 13 occasions; extend that to the last 2 groups and 9 of the last 13 renewals have produced a top-5 finisher in the first round leader market.

This trend continued again last April when Brooks Koepka tied the lead from the final group of the day with an opening round of 66, equalling Bryson DeChambeau’s effort from 2 groups in front of him.

Is there some logic in there? The breeze often does lay down a little towards the end of the day and perhaps the euphoria and pressure begins to dissipate a little as the day progresses. Players will also usually enjoy the best temperatures in the afternoon and on this lengthy layout every extra yard helps, particularly with the scoreable holes on the back 9.

Now this year the pandemic has thrown a curve ball in our direction, with players starting at both the 1st and 10th holes and the tee times being a little tighter due to the reduction in daylight hours. Whether this changes things remains to be seen.

The latest weather forecast for Augusta National is here.

After a wet day of practice on Wednesday, Thursday could be a repeat performance with the threat of thunderstorms spilling over into the tournament itself. Of course, if there’s any electrical activity then that will play havoc with the published tee times.

As per the outright market, there’s some each-way value to be found in the FRL market too with both Paddy Power and Betfair offering 8 places each way, 1/5 odds for this market. Details of their new customer offers are below:

✅ £/€20 risk-free bet offer for new customers using code YSKAEE 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 the 2020 PGA Championship, US Open & Masters

Paddy Power New Customer Offer: New customers only. Place your FIRST bet on any sportsbook market and if it loses we will refund your stake in CASH. Max refund for this offer is £20. Only deposits made using Cards or Apple Pay will qualify for this promotion. T&Cs apply. Paddy’s Rewards Club: Get a £10 free bet when you place 5x bets of £10+. T&Cs apply.

✅ 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 the 2020 PGA Championship, US Open & Masters

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. Payment restrictions apply. T&Cs apply.

My selections for First Round Leader are as follows:

Justin Rose 1pt EW 45/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

  • Masters Starts: 14
  • Masters FRL: 3
  • Masters FRL Top-5s: 6
  • Last 6 Event FRL Form: 131/53/71/8/46/9
  • Tee Time: 12:11pm

Going out in the penultimate group of the day would seem to be an ideal platform to attack on day 1 for Justin Rose if the historical trends I went through in the preamble hold again this year, although an iffy weather forecast could change all that in an instant if there’s a delay at any point, so I won’t get too hung up on that.

Statistically, the Englishman has the best FRL record in the field with three First Round Leader efforts here, achieved in successive appearances between 2004-08, and a further three top-4 finishes between 2015-17. Two of those more recent efforts paved the way to a runner-up finish here at Augusta National and it’s fair to say that the 40 year-old is well-suited to the test here in Georgia.

Recent round 1 efforts have been mixed, however since lockdown he’s led after 18 holes at the Charles Schwab Challenge with a sublime 63, plus sat 3rd after day 1 at the US PGA Championship in August. Two further top-10 positions after the opening day in his last three starts globally also encourages and another fast start here wouldn’t surprise me at all. RESULT: T6

✅ £/€20 risk-free bet offer for new customers using code YSKAEE 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 the 2020 PGA Championship, US Open & Masters

Paddy Power New Customer Offer: New customers only. Place your FIRST bet on any sportsbook market and if it loses we will refund your stake in CASH. Max refund for this offer is £20. Only deposits made using Cards or Apple Pay will qualify for this promotion. T&Cs apply. Paddy’s Rewards Club: Get a £10 free bet when you place 5x bets of £10+. T&Cs apply.

Lee Westwood 1pt EW 66/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

  • Masters Starts: 18
  • Masters FRL: 1
  • Masters FRL Top-5s: 4
  • Last 6 Event FRL Form: 5/1/24/8/90/119
  • Tee Time: 7:33am

At the age of 47, Lee Westwood still believes he can compete on the world stage and with good fitness levels and a relaxed outlook to his golf, who’s to argue with him. Wins at the Nedbank Golf Challenge and Abu Dhabi Championship on the European Tour over the past couple of seasons proves that there’s life in the old dog yet and although perhaps winning a Major Championship after more than 2 decades of trying is a little fanciful, there’s little to suggest that he can’t feature high on the leaderboard at some point, and preferably after 18 holes for the purpose of this bet.

18 starts at The Masters have produced a lead after day 1 on one occasion – back in 2012 – and three further top-3 efforts after 18 holes, including on the last time he played here at Augusta back in 2017. Five top-8 finishes overall in his last eight attempts around these parts is an excellent return and it’s clear that Westy enjoys his visits here.

The Worksop man has been a regular appearance at the top of day 1 leaderboards at the Majors for more than 2 decades now with 1 FRL and 5 top-10 FRL efforts at the US PGA Championship, 5 top-7 FRL efforts at the US Open including 5th after 18 holes a few weeks ago, and 3rd after day 1 at last year’s Open Championship. He also led the Scottish Open after the opening day last month with an outstanding round of 62 and could well hit the ground running here this week. RESULT: T10

Justin Harding 1pt EW 125/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

  • Masters Starts: 1
  • 2019 Masters FRL Finish: 6th
  • Last 6 Event FRL Form: 131/10/86/1/83/62
  • Tee Time: 11:05am

Finally more of a speculative punt on South Africa’s Justin Harding.

The 34 year-old surprised everyone last year when contending throughout the week here at Augusta, eventually succumbing to a bogey on the 15th hole on Sunday and finishing 12th overall. A sterling effort on debut though it has to be said and having sat in 6th place after day 1, with the each-way terms on offer this week then a repeat performance or better would be a great result for this bet.

Justin’s form since lockdown has been a little patchy, however bright spots include a 3rd place finish at Close House at the British Masters and 3rd again at Valderrama where he was 6th after the opening round.

An opening round of 66 at Wentworth last month was enough for a tie for the lead after 18 holes and although the wheels fell off immediately after that round, that’s absolutely fine for our purposes should he do the same again here.

4th and 5th for putting on his last 2 outings tells us that he’s getting the ball in the hole right now, even if the overall results aren’t quite happening, and a streaky player may well be the sort who’s looking down on the rest of the pack when the scores from the first day are in the book. Available at 150/1 with fewer each-way places, I’ve opted to take a slightly lower price to give more of a chance of a return. RESULT: T76

✅ £/€20 risk-free bet offer for new customers using code YSKAEE 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 the 2020 PGA Championship, US Open & Masters

Paddy Power New Customer Offer: New customers only. Place your FIRST bet on any sportsbook market and if it loses we will refund your stake in CASH. Max refund for this offer is £20. Only deposits made using Cards or Apple Pay will qualify for this promotion. T&Cs apply. Paddy’s Rewards Club: Get a £10 free bet when you place 5x bets of £10+. T&Cs apply.

Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 08:20GMT 11.11.20 but naturally subject to fluctuation.