Paul Williams

Paul Williams' US PGA Championship 2021 FRL Tips

Get Paul's previews as soon as they're published @golfbetting Follow Now

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 Kiawah Island is here.

Thursday looks set fair for the whole day at Kiawah Island, with long sunny spells and temperatures reaching the mid-70s Fahrenheit. The very early starters may get an hour or so of very light winds, however it’s not expected to get much 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 PGA Championship moves around from course to course, however we do have the benefit of the 2012 renewal held here to peruse too.

Looking at the US PGA Championship history first, going back to 2011 the morning wave has produced 10 of the 15 players who either led or co-led after day 1 in this event.

The exceptions to the rule were Adam Scott who matched Jim Furyk’s 65 from a 13:45 tee time in 2013; Ryan Palmer who also shot 65 the year after to co-lead with Kevin Chappell and Lee Westwood; Kevin Kisner who equalled Thorbjorn Olesen’s early 67 in 2017 at Quail Hollow from a 13:55 tee time; Gary Woodland who broke our hearts in 2018 from a 13:26 tee time to pip Rickie Fowler by shooting 64; then Brendon Todd who equalled Jason Day’s early round of 65 last year.

With the exception of the aforementioned Ryan Palmer, all first round leaders since 2011 had shown some snippets of form in the very recent past. 6 of Woodland’s previous 8 rounds had been in the 60s prior to shooting 64 in the first round at Bellerive in 2018. In 2017 Kisner was 3rd after the first round in Ohio and Olesen had finished 10th overall courtesy of a 67/75 weekend.

Jimmy Walker, who led from wire-to-wire in 2016 to capture his maiden Major title, had also started brightly at the Bridgestone and sat 2nd after 18 holes whereas Dustin Johnson, who led the US PGA on his own in 2015 after a first round 66, had also produced some good opening form at Akron where he was 2nd going into the weekend.

More recently, Brooks Koepka’s opening 63 in 2019 followed on from having finished 1st and 4th after day one in his previous 3 starts, whereas Day (15th) and Todd (2nd) had both started brightly at St Jude the week before arriving at TPC Harding Park last August.

Essentially a spark of life in the very recent past seems to be a good pointer for this.

So, PGA Championship history errs on the side of early starters, however we also have 2012 to look a little deeper into which was held here at the Ocean Course. The top 5 players after day 1 were as follows:

  • Carl Pettersson (66), 8.50am
  • Rory McIlroy (67), 8.10am
  • Gary Woodland (67), 8.00am
  • Gonzalo Fdez-Castano (67), 12.30pm
  • Alex Noren (67), 2.00pm

So it’s 3:2 to the early starters; from the next 8 players who all shot 68, they were split 4:4 between morning and afternoon tee times. So really there’s very little in it overall, however I’ll side with history and back 3 early starters this year.

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:

✅ Bet £10 Get £20 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

Boylesports UK New Customer Offer: 18+, Mobile Exclusive. Min stake £10. Min odds 1/2 (1.5). First bet only. Free bets expire in 7 days. Cashed out bets won’t apply. Payment method restrictions. Online UK customers only. 30 days to qualify for £20 in Free Bets. 18+. T&Cs apply. #Ad

✅ £/€20 risk-free bet offer for new customers using code YSKAEE and this qualifying link
✅ For further details read our Paddy Power promo code page
✅ Paddy’s most popular new customer offer for Golf Betting System visitors
✅ Offered 12 places each-way 1/6 odds at the 2021 Open Championship for the first time ever

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. #Ad

✅ Up to £100 in free bets for new customers using code ZBBC01 and this qualifying link
✅ For further details read our Betfair sign up offer page
✅ Bet on Betfair fixed odds sportsbook or Betfair Exchange from a single account
✅ Offered 10 places each-way 1/5 odds at all 4 Majors in 2021

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. #Ad

My selections for First Round Leader are as follows:

Keegan Bradley 1pt EW 66/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Unibet

  • US PGA Starts: 10
  • US PGA FRL Best: 6th (2012)
  • US PGA FRL Top-8s: 1
  • Last 6 Event FRL Form: 7/11/27/22/1/2
  • Tee Time: 8:17AM

I made the mistake of not backing Keegan Bradley for First Round Leader at Copperhead a little over a fortnight ago, despite our FRL stats screaming his name, however hopefully he can make up for that miss by repeating the feat here this week at Kiawah Island.

The 2011 US PGA Champion is something of a FRL machine when you analyse his overall career, and taking just his last 50 PGA Tour (including WGCs & Majors) starts he’s racked up 4 FRL wins and a further 7 FRL top-7 finishes, which makes him a straightforward selection for this week’s Thursday team.

A week after leading the way at the Valspar Championship, the 34 year-old threatened to do the same at Quail Hollow, finishing 2nd after the first day to Phil Mickelson and eventually ending in a tie for 18th on Sunday.

Bradley’s best FRL finish at the US PGA Championship came here at Kiawah Island in 2012 where an opening 68 was good enough for a tie for 6th and if he can find a few putts on Thursday to accompany his typically dependable long game then he could get our week off to a flyer. RESULT: T2

✅ 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

Ryan Palmer 1pt EW 100/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Boylesports

  • US PGA Starts: 12
  • US PGA FRL Best: 1st (2014)
  • US PGA FRL Top-8s: 1
  • Last 6 Event FRL Form: 25/11/38/30/45/34
  • Tee Time: 8:11AM

It was a toss-up for me between perennial FRL favourite Charley Hoffman and Ryan Palmer, and based on his overall PGA Championship record I’ve gone with the latter. Whereas Hoffman has missed the cut on 9 of his 12 attempts at this title and has ranked no better than 22nd after day 1, Palmer finished 5th in this event in 2014 – which still ranks as his best Major finish – and he was also tied First Round Leader that year at Valhalla.

Recent Thursday form has been solid if unspectacular, however he’s sat inside the top-6 on 9 occasions in his last 45 starts, giving him a 1-in-5 strike rate for an each-way return where his odds imply that his chance is 4 times that.

Opening rounds of 67/69/66 last week at the Byron Nelson would suggest that his game’s not far away at all and another fast start is quite possible here. RESULT: Lose

✅ Bet £10 Get £20 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

Boylesports UK New Customer Offer: 18+, Mobile Exclusive. Min stake £10. Min odds 1/2 (1.5). First bet only. Free bets expire in 7 days. Cashed out bets won’t apply. Payment method restrictions. Online UK customers only. 30 days to qualify for £20 in Free Bets. 18+. T&Cs apply. #Ad

Stewart Cink 1pt EW 125/1 (8EW, 1/5)  with Paddy Power

  • US PGA Starts: 19
  • US PGA FRL Best: 4th (2006)
  • US PGA FRL Top-8s: 3
  • Last 6 Event FRL Form: 85/112/63/30/2/53
  • Tee Time: 8:28AM

I’ve backed Stewart Cink in my longshots article but I’m also interested in the 47 year-old in the First Round Leader market too.

A winner on the Peter Dye setup at Harbour Town last month where he opened with a pair of 63s and scarcely looked back, if he’s to feature at the upper end of the leaderboard here on Sunday then I suspect it will be fuelled at least in part by a quick start once again.

Cink is a veteran of 19 US PGA Championships and 3 times would have paid out an each-way FRL return in those starts with the place terms on offer this week. His best result in that respect came in 2006 when he sat in 4th place after 18 holes, however he wasn’t far behind that mark on his last start at the PGA in 2018 when an opening 67 put him in 5th place when the first day drew to a close.

Stewart has shot 65 or better 10 times in this wraparound 2020/21 season so far and another round along those lines should see a nice return from this bet. RESULT: Lose

✅ £/€20 risk-free bet offer for new customers using code YSKAEE and this qualifying link
✅ For further details read our Paddy Power promo code page
✅ Paddy’s most popular new customer offer for Golf Betting System visitors
✅ Offered 12 places each-way 1/6 odds at the 2021 Open Championship for the first time ever

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. #Ad

Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 19:05BST 18.5.21 but naturally subject to fluctuation.