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: