Paul Williams

Paul Williams' US Open FRL Tips 2021

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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 the weather: The latest weather forecast for Torrey Pines is here.

Thursday looks set fair for the whole day at Torrey Pines, with long sunny spells and temperatures reaching the low-70s Fahrenheit. The very early starters may get an hour or so of very light winds, however it’s not expected to get beyond 10mph all day so at this point in time the draw looks fairly even.

In terms of history, we have 2 angles of attack this week given that the US Open moves around from course to course, so US Open FRL history and Farmers Insurance Open FRL history can both be studied using our stats sheets.

Looking at the US Open history first, going back to 2011 the morning wave has produced 9 of the 14 players who either led or co-led after day 1 in this event.

The exceptions to the rule were Rory McIlroy who shot 65 to lead on his own in 2011; Martin Kaymer who equalled that score 3 years later; Scott Piercy and Ian Poulter who tied for the lead with Dustin Johnson and Russell Henley courtesy of rounds of 69 in 2018; and Justin Rose who shot 65 in 2019 from an afternoon tee time at Pebble Beach.

We do of course have a 2008 US Open renewal held here at Torrey Pines to study too. Kevin Streelman and Justin Hicks shared the 18-hole lead with opening rounds of 68. Streelman had an afternoon tee time (12.41pm), whereas Hicks was one of the earliest starters at 7.11am. Rocco Mediate, Geoff Ogilvy, Eric Axley and Stuart Appleby were a shot shy of the lead after the first round; 3 of the 4 players had morning tee times, suggesting that, as per US Open history in general, a morning start is marginally preferred.

The Farmers Insurance Open stats need to be taken with a pinch of salt as players can start on either the North or South Course and with the North Course typically playing far easier, numbers can be skewed.

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

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All things considered, I’ve balanced two AM with two PM starters. My selections for First Round Leader are as follows:

Justin Rose 1pt EW 66/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Unibet

  • US Open Starts: 15
  • US Open FRL Best: 1st (2019)
  • US Open FRL Top-8s: 4
  • Last 6 Event FRL Form: 44/29/1/129/31/14
  • Tee Time: 1.36pm

An injury-driven withdrawal from the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March put me and many others off of Justin Rose when it came to the FRL market at Augusta National, despite some sparkling history in that market at The Masters. In the end an opening 65 was 4 shots better than anyone else in the field could muster and it added yet another FRL win to his tally at the Majors.

4 Masters FRLs, 3 US PGA top-5 FRL finishes, 1 US Open FRL and 3 top-6 FRL finishes, plus 2 Open Championship top-5 FRL finishes is an impressive career haul at golf’s biggest events, and him adding another entry into that list this week wouldn’t surprise me at all.

7th and 8th overall at 2021’s two Majors to date suggests that the Englishman is focussing his efforts on peaking for the right weeks; in Ryder Cup year this week has got to be another key focus and one which a fast start wouldn’t hinder in the slightest.

63 to open here at Torrey Pines on his way to victory in 2019 was recorded on the neighbouring North Course, however 66/69/69 on the South to seal the deal was impressive and that result wasn’t unexpected given he’d finished 4th and 8th on his 2 starts here previously.

The only fly in the ointment is an afternoon start, however I’ll take a chance on Rose overcoming that slight hindrance given that 2008 produced a tie for FRL from either side of the draw, and Rose is more likely to rely on his long game to compile a score than overcoming any deterioration in the Poa Annua greens as the day progresses. RESULT: Lose

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Ryan Palmer 1pt EW 90/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Unibet

  • US Open Starts: 8
  • US Open FRL Best: 4th (2011)
  • US Open FRL Top-8s: 1
  • Last 6 Event FRL Form: 38/30/45/34/62/98
  • Tee Time: 8.24am

Recent Thursday form has been solid if unspectacular for Ryan Palmer, however he’s sat inside the top-6 on 9 occasions in his last 46 starts, giving him a roughly 1-in-5 strike rate for an each-way return where his odds imply that his chance is around 3-4 times that.

4th after 18 holes at the 2011 US Open is the Texan’s best Thursday effort in this event which is nothing special, however it’s his overall record here at Torrey Pines which really catches the eye with finishes of 2/13/21/2 over the past 4 years.

The 2018 runner-up finish began with a 66 on the North Course, however an impressive 67 on the South on the Friday put the 44 year-old in pole position heading into the weekend. This year’s effort though saw the Texan shoot a 66 on the South Course on the opening day to tie the best round of the day on that course alongside Peter Malnati. Positive vibes hopefully ahead of this week’s task on a course that he enjoys more than most. RESULT: Lose

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✅ Early odds available each week on the PGA Tour and European Tour
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Kevin Streelman 1pt EW 90/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Boylesports

  • US Open Starts: 7
  • US Open FRL Best: 1st (2008)
  • US Open FRL Top-8s: 2
  • Last 6 Event FRL Form: 8/88/18/8/24/39
  • Tee Time: 1.58pm

One of the more eyebrow-raising performances of the last Major, the US PGA Championship, was that of Kevin Streelman. 4th into Sunday at Kiawah Island, the 42 year-old couldn’t quite keep up with the pace as the pressure intensified, however 8th was a personal best at the Majors and must offer lots of encouragement for a player who’s winless on Tour since 2014.

8th after 18 holes that week was the second time that the Scottsdale resident has recorded a top-8 effort after the first day in his last 6 starts, and he has a further 3 equal or better efforts in his last 25 starts globally. One of those was on opening round of 64 at The Northern Trust back in late August which was good enough for a share of the lead after the opening round.

68 to close his Memorial Tournament effort was beaten by just one player and 13th place overall was positive momentum to take into this week. What really sticks out though is that aside from an impressive 3rd place finish here in the 2016 Farmers Insurance Open, Kevin was the joint first round leader here the last time Torrey hosted the US Open, shooting 68 from a PM tee time before drifting as the tournament progressed. RESULT: Lose

✅ Bet £10 Get £30 for new mobile customers using this qualifying link
✅ Regularly extending full-field PGA Tour events to 8 or 10 places each-way in 2021
✅ Offered 12 places each-way 1/6 odds at the 2021 Open Championship for the first time ever

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Jimmy Walker 1/2pt EW 200/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Unibet

  • US Open Starts: 9
  • US Open FRL Best: 16th
  • US Open FRL Top-8s: 0
  • Last 6 Event FRL Form: 88/73/96/41/69/65
  • Tee Time: 8.24am

Finally I’m going to take a speculative chance on Jimmy Walker who I’ve also backed outright in my longshots piece.

Although a Major champion from his 2016 US PGA Championship triumph, there’s not been a great deal to shout about in for the 42 year-old since, either from an outright or FRL perspective; however when he did win that title at Baltrusol it was achieved in wire-to-wire fashion, and if he’s going to feature this week then perhaps it will be courtesy of a fast start once again.

The only real justification I can give you is that the Texan arrives here at Torrey Pines – where he’s recorded 4 top-8 finishes over the years – with some momentum, having carded his first top-10 finish on Tour for 3 years last time out at Muirfield Village, closing with a round of 65 which was 3 better than anyone else in the field.

A punt, granted, however at the price on offer one which I’m happy to take. RESULT: Lose

✅ Money back as a bonus up to £40 if your first bet loses & £10 casino bonus for new customers using this qualifying link
✅ For further details read our Unibet sign up offer page
✅ Early odds available each week on the PGA Tour and European Tour
✅ Strong odds on First Round Leader market

Unibet New Customer Offer: 18+ begambleaware.org. New customer only. Min deposit £10. Money back as bonus if first bet loses. Wagering requirements: sportsbook 3x at min. odds of 1.40 (2/5), casino 35x. Unless forfeited the sportsbook bonus must be wagered before using the casino bonus. Bonus expires 7 days after opt-in. No deposit required for NI customers. Call 08081699314 to claim. Full T&Cs apply. #Ad

Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 08:05 BST 16.06.21 but naturally subject to fluctuation.