First Round Leader Market
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.
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: