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Adon7x’s 2019 PGA Championship First-Round Leader Bets: A Perfect Setup for Finau

Adon7x’s 2019 PGA Championship First-Round Leader Bets: A Perfect Setup for Finau article feature image

Jasen Vinlove, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Tony Finau

  • Adon7x runs through his favorite First-Round Leader bets for the 2019 PGA Championship, which gets underway on Thursday, May 16.
  • There's not a big weather edge on either end of the draw, but it's important to focus on player who have performed well on Poa greens.

Last week, we correctly guessed which wave to target at the AT&T Byron Nelson, as seven of the top 10 players after Round 1 had morning tee times.

The strong wind gusts we were expecting didn’t actually hit the course until 3 p.m. — and for a moment, it looked like someone from the afternoon wave might catch Denny McCarthy at 12-under, but mother nature did her job.

Overall, the morning wave ended up playing two strokes easier than the afternoon, and while Denny McCarthy was not on the card, he is another example of why First Round Leader wagering is one of the best opportunities to hit a 100-1 winner.

Unfortunately, I do not see a clear wave advantage on Thursday for the PGA Championship, as the wind is expected to be consistent throughout the day.

The morning wave is typically the preferred target on Poa greens since the Poa will grow throughout the day and give the later tee times slightly bumpier surfaces to putt on. But the morning wave will get British Open-like temperatures before it warms up 10-15 degrees for those playing in the afternoon.

Normally, I don’t play nine different First Round Leaders, but this is a major and we are still risking roughly 1 unit since seven of my nine golfers listed are 100-1 odds or more.

Let’s get to the picks.

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Tony Finau

Odds: 40-1 (.25u)

Tee time: 12:43 p.m. ET

Tony is always a popular outright winner wager within the golf community, but I prefer to bet him in the FRL market. While his odds are usually on the short end, Finau has as much talent as any of the favorites and loves to start fast. Perhaps you will remember the Masters last year, when he nearly led after Round 1 while playing on an injured ankle.

I love to target Finau on Poa and Bentgrass greens, the putting surfaces where he’s recorded his best results as a pro. He has a great record at Torrey Pines, which, as Joshua Perry discussed earlier this week, is a great comp course off the tee to Bethpage Black. Finau was the first-round leader in back-to-back Poa events last year (Riviera and Torrey Pines).

Patrick Cantlay

  • Odds: 55-1 (.19u)
  • Tee time: 1:05 p.m. ET

I love the odds here on Cantlay and actually think he will contend for the Wannamaker Trophy this week. Like Finau, Patrick is an immense talent on the cusp of golf stardom. A breakthrough major win is in his future, but until that comes, I will continue to bet on Cantlay to set the pace on Thursdays.

Cantlay and Finau were actually joint FRLs at Riviera last year, and the Long Beach, Calif., native should embrace the familiarity of Poa greens.

He has three top 10s in his last five individual events. He showcased his ability to go low with a blistering 65 at the WGC-Mexico, which features Poa greens.

Patrick Cantlay
Will Patrick Cantlay put it all together at TPC Sawgrass? Credit: Orlando Ramirez, USA Today Sports.

Keegan Bradley

  • Odds: 100-1 (.1u)
  • Tee time: 1:05 p.m. ET

Keegan is always a sharp FRL wager, especially at triple-digit odds. He ranks 12th in total driving on tour — total driving combines both distance and accuracy off the tee — and this skill set will be in high demand at Bethpage Black this week. Bradley was a joint FRL at The Players, so we know he can do it against the game’s best competition.

Jhonattan Vegas

  • Odds: 100-1 (.1u)
  • Tee time: 2:22 p.m. ET

Vegas comes into this event in great form, averaging 7 Strokes Gained: Total over the field during his last five individual tournaments, according to Fantasy Golf National.

Vegas was the solo FRL at the Honda earlier this year, shooting an opening-round 64 and is frequently on the first page of leaderboards after Round 1. Vegas tees off in the last group on Thursday, so if we see an extreme shift in the weather, we have that end covered.

Scott Piercy

  • Odds: 100-1 (.1u)
  • Tee time: 6:45 a.m. ET

I stated in my intro article why I love to target golfers who are among the first to tee off on Thursday, and Piercy’s group will kick off this tournament from the 10th tee.

Scott is also coming into this event hot, gaining a ridiculous 25 Strokes over the field during his past two individual tournaments, both of which were top-five finishes (Byron Nelson and RBC Heritage).

He has always been one of the best ball-strikers on tour, but like Adam Scott, his putting occasionally holds him back. Piercy is putting extremely well of late, though: He’s gained 3.6 and 4.4 strokes on the greens at the Byron Nelson and RBC, according to Fantasy Golf National.

Joel Dahmen

  • Odds: 110-1 (.09u)
  • Tee time: 12:43 p.m. ET

No introduction needed for this Thursday All-Star who has been FRL this year a whopping three times. Let’s keep riding the wave and hope Joel is up for some big-game hunting in this major championship field.

Dahmen ended up finishing second in his last event at Wells Fargo where he co-led with Rory after Round 1, so he is proving his chops on Sundays, as well. At Torrey Pines, Dahmen gained 7 strokes gained over the field with his putter, so he should be fine on these Poa greens.

how to bet on golf-first round leader-odds
Joel Dahmen has been the first-round leader on multiple occasions this season. Credit: Jim Dedmon, USA Today Sports.

Charley Hoffman

  • Odds: 110-1 (.09u)
  • Tee time: 7:51 a.m. ET

The Charley-Hoffman-FRL-in-a-major sweat is one of my favorite traditions. Famous for his Round 1 performances at the Masters, Hoffman has led numerous leaderboards after the first round over the years.

This has been a pretty subpar year for Charley, but he has shown signs of turning it around, making four straight cuts, including impressive performances at the Valspar and his second home, the Valero Texas Open.

Hoffman is a West Coast native, so you don’t have to worry about him on these Poa greens.

Thomas Pieters

  • Odds: 110-1 (.09u)
  • Tee time: 6:56 a.m. ET

This European Tour stalwart has had a couple of his best results in elite fields on Poa greens, including second- and fifth-place finishes last year at Riviera and Mexico, respectively.

Pieters also finished sixth at the PGA Championship last year on soft course and similar soft conditions are expected again this year. The reason I prefer to back Pieters on Thursdays instead of the entire tournament is because he’s basically Jon Rahm without the short game, and I am talking about his mental attitude as much as their power off the tee.

Pieters is known for his epic tantrums on the course and this usually holds him back over the span of four days, but we only need him to keep his cool for one day.

Shane Lowry

  • Odds: 110-1 (.09u)
  • Tee time: 7:29 a.m. ET

I mentioned yesterday in my longshots article why I love Lowry’s prospects for this event. Lowry held the lead after Day 1 his last time out at the RBC Heritage and was also the FRL in Abu Dhabi earlier this year, an event he went on to win wire-to-wire.

Total Risk: 1.1 units to win 10 unts

Season to date: -1 unit

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