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.
First up the weather: The latest weather forecast for Southern Hills is here.
Thursday looks set fair for the whole day at Southern Hills, with long sunny spells and temperatures reaching the mid-80s Fahrenheit later in the afternoon. The early starters may get an hour or two of relatively light winds; from there it looks like a steady 10-15mph with gusts up to 20mph, maybe increasing further as the day progresses.
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 2007 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 16 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; Brendon Todd who equalled Jason Day’s early round of 65 in 2020; and finally Corey Conners who took the solo lead 12 months ago from a 13:03 tee time with an opening round of 67.
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 in 2020. Last year’s first round leader Corey Conners had finished 8th at The Masters, 7th at The PLAYERS and had been FRL at the Arnold Palmer Invitational before that, so was clearly playing nicely.
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 2007 to look a little deeper into which was held here at Southern Hills. The top 5 players after day 1 were as follows:
- Graeme Storm 65, 12.45pm
- John Daly 67, 8.50am
- Woody Austin 68, 1.15pm
- Arron Oberholser 68, 8.10am
- Stephen Ames 68, 2.15pm
So it’s 3:2 to the PM starters from 2007, however with a forecast that’s hinting at easier conditions in the morning I’ll stack my team 3:1 in favour of the AM starters.
As per the outright market, there’s some each-way value to be found in the FRL market too with Boylesports, Betfred, Coral & Unibet offering 7 places each way, 1/5 odds. Details of their new customer offers are below: