Paul Williams

Paul Williams' US Open FRL Tips 2024

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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 in this event 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.

The latest weather forecast for Pinehurst is here.

Thursday will be perfect for playing golf with barely a cloud in the sky and only a breath of wind all day. Temperatures will rise from around 21 Centigrade (70 Fahrenheit) for the early starters to 31 Centigrade (88 Fahrenheit) for those teeing off in the afternoon.

First up some history and going back to 2011 the morning wave has produced 12 of the 19 players who either led or co-led after day 1 in this event, including last year when Rickie Fowler and Xander Schauffele both shot incredible rounds of 62 to co-lead from 8:02 and 8:24am tee times respectively.

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; Justin Rose who shot 65 in 2019 from an afternoon tee time at Pebble Beach; Louis Oosthuizen who equalled Russell Henley’s earlier round of 67 from a 1.47pm tee time at Torrey Pines; and Adam Hadwin whose 66 the year before last beat a quartet of players who’d already posted 67 in the morning.

You’ll notice the name of Martin Kaymer nestled in there which relates to his effort here at Pinehurst No.2 in 2014, where he led by 3 after the first round and never looked back. That was from a 1.47pm tee time with the course playing a little more receptive than had been anticipated on the first day a decade ago. The top 5 after day 1 in 2014 were as follows:

  • Martin Kaymer, 65: 1.47pm
  • Graeme McDowell, 68: 7.40am
  • Kevin Na, 68: 7.18am
  • Brendon de Jonge, 68: 1.14pm
  • Frann Quinn, 68: 2.31pm

With nothing untoward in the weather forecast, the only conceivable advantage that the morning wave could have is slightly softer greens which may be offset by warmer temperatures in the afternoon, as it was 10 years ago. For me, I’ll balance my team 2 to 1 in favour of the early starters in case the greens firm up enough in the afternoon to make it that much tougher.

As per the outright market, there’s some each-way value to be found in the FRL market too with Unibet offering 7 places each way, 1/5 odds for this market, and I’ve used them for all 3 of my bets. Details of their new customer offer can be found below:

✅ Money back as a bonus up to £40 if your first bet loses & £10 Casino bonus for new customers.
✅ 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

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My First Round Leader selections are as follows:

Brooks Koepka 2pts EW 33/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Unibet

  • US Open Starts: 9
  • US Open FRL Best: 4th (2017)
  • US Open FRL Top-7s: 2
  • Last 6 Event FRL Form: 8/35/29/2/12/26
  • Tee Time: 7.40am

Steve Bamford has backed Brooks Koepka in his outright betting tips for this year’s US Open and I was in complete agreement with him in this week’s podcast as personally I think that he’s got a great chance of winning the whole thing for a third time.

Of the American’s 10 career first round leads, 4 have come in Majors – namely at the 2017 Open Championship, the 2019 PGA Championship which he won, plus twice at The Masters in 2019 and 2023. Put simply, when Brooks has got his Major game-face on, he’s a force to be reckoned with.

Despite winning the US Open twice already, the one Major where he’s not been so prolific in the first round is this, however from a nice early tee time when the course should be at its most receptive perhaps he corrects that statistic this week.

The 34 year-old arrives here in North Carolina with incoming LIV form of 9/1/9, with that win in Singapore set up by an opening round of 66 which saw him sit in 2nd place after the opening 18 holes. Last week’s start wasn’t so quick, but he did close with a round of 65 – the best round of the day in the entire field – to give him some serious momentum heading into this week. RESULT: T16

✅ Money back as a bonus up to £40 if your first bet loses & £10 Casino bonus for new customers.
✅ 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

Ryan Fox 1pt EW 100/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Unibet

  • US Open Starts: 5
  • US Open FRL Best: 14th (2023)
  • US Open FRL Top-7s: 0
  • Last 6 Event FRL Form: 15/53/51/85/11/6
  • Tee Time: 8.13am

I talked about the link between Pinehurst and the home of golf, St Andrews, in my longshots preview which led me to backing Victor Perez outright, and perhaps another Alfred Dunhill Links winner in the shape of Ryan Fox can feature on Thursday.

The Kiwi’s biggest career victory at the Home of Golf was eclipsed when he won the DP World Tour’s flagship event at Wentworth last year, and he quite rightly plies his trade on the PGA Tour nowadays having elevated himself to a new level in the past couple of years.

Fox has always been renowned as a fast starter on the DP World Tour, indeed he topped the leaderboard no less than four times on a Thursday in 2022 alone, and 11 career FRLs at all levels from 285 strokeplay starts makes for a healthy ratio in relation to his price this week.

Recent first round form has been trending too for the 37 year-old. 6th after day 1 at The Masters this year, more recently he’s sat 11th after 18 holes at Colonial and 6th in Canada on his last start, where he went on to co-lead at the halfway point. With his game in good shape I can see another fast start coming here this week. RESULT: T65

✅ Money back as a bonus up to £40 if your first bet loses & £10 Casino bonus for new customers.
✅ 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

Martin Kaymer 1pt EW 125/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Unibet

  • US Open Starts : 15
  • US Open FRL Best: 1st (2014)
  • US Open FRL Top-7s: 1
  • Last 6 Event FRL Form: 3/25/35/2/18/1
  • Tee Time: 1:47pm

There’s been plenty of water under the bridge since Martin Kaymer lapped the field here at Pinehurst 10 years ago. From blowing a 10-shot lead in the final round of Abu Dhabi that puts even Sebastian Soderberg’s collapse last week in Sweden in the shade, to cashing in and joining LIV almost 2 years ago to the day, it’s been eventful even if another trophy hasn’t been forthcoming.

The German’s victory here was fuelled by an opening round of 65 that opened a 3-shot gap, which he then extended to 8 strokes by the end of the week with barely a glance over his shoulder, so his prowess on this course isn’t open to debate.

Whether he can do the same a decade on from an identical 1.47pm tee time to 2014 remains to be seen, however there’s plenty of evidence from his recent outings to suggest that another fast start this week isn’t out of the question.

3rd after the opening round at LIV Hong Kong back in March came courtesy of an opening round of 64, and he got off to another strong start at LIV Singapore last month with a 66 which saw the 39 year-old sit 2nd after 18 holes. Both of those efforts were trumped by an opening 65 last week at LIV Houston which tied for the lead alongside Caleb Surratt and Adrian Meronk.

We’ve seen time and again that lightning can strike twice in this market and Kaymer sitting top of the pile after Thursday wouldn’t shock me one bit. RESULT: T16

✅ Money back as a bonus up to £40 if your first bet loses & £10 Casino bonus for new customers.
✅ 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

Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 07:22BST 12.6.24 but are naturally subject to fluctuation.