Paul Williams

Paul Williams' The Masters FRL Tips 2023

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Check out our 2023 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:

  • 2022: Sungjae Im (67), 12:57pm tee time. Sungjae Im pipped Cameron Smith to the first day lead from a relatively late tee time, building on the promise he’d shown at the November Masters 18 months before when finishing 2nd overall, having been 4th after the first day.
  • 2021: Justin Rose (65), 12:48pm tee time. The Englishman romped into a 4-stroke lead after 18 holes, having withdrawn from the Arnold Palmer Invitational on his last start through injury to throw most punters off the scent. That was the 4th time that Rose had led, or co-led, The Masters after day 1.
  • 2020: In the November Masters, Paul Casey, Dylan Frittelli and Dustin Johnson all shared the first round lead with 7-under rounds of 65 from 7.44am and 12pm (both players) tee times respectively, from a 2-tee start due to reduced daylight hours. Casey had closed his previous event, the Zozo Championship, with a 67 although his form, both overall and from a FRL perspective, was average at best; Frittelli however had flashed a little more form at the same event, sitting 4th after day 1 and 2nd into the weekend before fading. Eventual winner Dustin Johnson had started slowly on his previous 2 starts with rounds of 73 & 72, however he’d finished like a train in Houston to finish 2nd overall before capturing the Green Jacket here the following week.
  • 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 15 occasions; extend that to the last 3 groups and 10 of the last 15 renewals have produced a top-5 finisher in the first round leader market. Justin Rose didn’t quite continue that trend from his 12:48 tee time last year, however he was still one of the later starters on the day.

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.

The latest weather forecast for Augusta National is here.

Gusty 15-20mph winds are forecast to subside as the day progresses, with the later starters having the benefit of both calmer conditions and the warmest temperatures to finish their rounds before overnight rain arrives.

Coupled with the history here which very much points us in the direction of the final few groups, a later starter could once again top the leaderboard after 18 holes.

In terms of bookmakers, I’ve backed all 3 of my selections with Unibet who not only offer top price, or joint top price, on my trio but are also offering 7 places each way, 1/5 odds on the FRL market this week. Details of their new customer offer are below:

✅ The Unibet new customer offer is Not Valid from 00:00 12th April until 00:00 14th April due to the Grand National.
✅ For further details read our Unibet sign up offer page
✅ Early odds available each week on the PGA Tour and DP World Tour
✅ Strong odds on First Round Leader market

Unibet New Customer Offer: 18+. BeGambleAware.org. New customers only. Min Dep £10. Debit cards only. Opt in for bonus funds. Wagering, sportsbook 3x at min. odds of 1.40 (2/5), casino 50x. Sports bonus must be wagered before using the casino bonus. Valid for 7 days. Geographical Restrictions and T&Cs Apply. #Ad

My selections for FRL are as follows:

Jordan Spieth 2PTS EW 25/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Unibet

  • Masters Starts: 9
  • Masters FRL: 3 (2015, 2016, 2018)
  • Masters FRL Top-5s: 3
  • Last 8 Event FRL Form: 11/1/61/33/101/5/12/4
  • Tee Time: 14:00

With the late group narrative reinforced by a weather forecast that suggests that the calmest, warmest conditions will be in the late afternoon, Jordan Spieth is a must-bet for me from the final 2pm tee time.

Of course if you’ve read my side markets article or listened to our podcast then you could have guessed that this bet was coming given that I’ve backed Jordan outright and also wire-to-wire, however to make that happen a fast start is critical this week.

The Texan’s overall record at Augusta National is incredible as we well know: a win, two runner-up finishes and two 3rd-place finishes from 9 starts tells us how much he enjoys playing around these parts and he’s sat top of the pile on 3 of those occasions after the first 18 holes have been completed.

With a FRL win already in the bag this season when he opened with a 64 at the Sony Open in Hawaii, the 29 year-old was also 5th at Bay Hill after day 1, 12th at TPC Sawgrass, and 4th on Thursday evening on his last strokeplay start at the Valspar.

✅ The Unibet new customer offer is Not Valid from 00:00 12th April until 00:00 14th April due to the Grand National.
✅ For further details read our Unibet sign up offer page
✅ Early odds available each week on the PGA Tour and DP World Tour
✅ Strong odds on First Round Leader market

Unibet New Customer Offer: 18+. BeGambleAware.org. New customers only. Min Dep £10. Debit cards only. Opt in for bonus funds. Wagering, sportsbook 3x at min. odds of 1.40 (2/5), casino 50x. Sports bonus must be wagered before using the casino bonus. Valid for 7 days. Geographical Restrictions and T&Cs Apply. #Ad

Tommy Fleetwood 1PT EW 55/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Unibet

  • Masters Starts: 6
  • Masters FRL: 0
  • Masters FRL Top-5s: 0 (Best 21st, 2018 & 2019)
  • Last 8 Event FRL Form: 5/13/11/55/14/68/49/7
  • Tee Time: 14:00

Alongside Jordan Spieth in the final group of the day we find Tony Finau and Tommy Fleetwood, and at the prices I fancy the Englishman to get out of the blocks quickly too.

Tommy is a relative veteran when it comes to Augusta National now having played in the past 6 Masters tournaments, and he arrives here off the back of a personal best finish last year of 14th place and looking to build further on a course which suits his game.

He’s yet to get off to a flyer here in Georgia from any of those 6 starts, however a perfect tee time this year may see that change and the Englishman has two rounds of 66 around these parts, recorded in 2018 and 2020, to suggest that he’s well capable of shooting a low enough 18 holes here to feature in the FRL market.

An opening 64 at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in September was the last time that the 32 year-old sat at the top of the pile after day 1, however 7th after 18 holes on his last start at the Valspar – where he finished 3rd overall – suggests that his game is in good shape at present.

✅ The Unibet new customer offer is Not Valid from 00:00 12th April until 00:00 14th April due to the Grand National.
✅ For further details read our Unibet sign up offer page
✅ Early odds available each week on the PGA Tour and DP World Tour
✅ Strong odds on First Round Leader market

Unibet New Customer Offer: 18+. BeGambleAware.org. New customers only. Min Dep £10. Debit cards only. Opt in for bonus funds. Wagering, sportsbook 3x at min. odds of 1.40 (2/5), casino 50x. Sports bonus must be wagered before using the casino bonus. Valid for 7 days. Geographical Restrictions and T&Cs Apply. #Ad

Tom Hoge 1PT EW 80/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Unibet

  • Masters Starts: 1
  • Masters FRL: 0
  • Masters FRL Top-5s: 0 (Best 31st, 2022)
  • Last 8 Event FRL Form: 5/41/107/61/33/7/68/133
  • Tee Time: 12:24

Finally, a more speculative first round leader punt on Tom Hoge who’s regularly underrated in elite fields and who’s well capable of posting a low score around here.

The 33 year-old got his breakthrough PGA Tour win at Pebble Beach last February, opening with a field-leading round of 63 before eventually beating Jordan Spieth by 2 strokes on Sunday, and he backed that up with victory alongside Sahith Theegala at the QBE Shootout in December where the pair shot rounds of 60, 60 and 62 to prove victorious.

Since that Pebble Beach success, Hoge has recorded 2 further FRL wins from 33 starts including in an elite field at last year’s PLAYERS Championship. Although he couldn’t repeat the feat at TPC Sawgrass last month, he did shoot the low round of the week on the Saturday with his 62 proving to be 2 strokes better than anyone else could muster over the 4 days.

39th overall here last year at Augusta National gives us no further clues, however with that experience in the bag and the ability to shoot a low round at any time, Hoge could get off to a fast start from an afternoon tee time.

Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 07:20BST 5.4.23 but are naturally subject to fluctuation.