2022 British Open First Round Leader Picks: Find FRL Value With Jordan Spieth, Tommy Fleetwood & More
Photo by Stuart Franklin/R&A/R&A via Getty Images. Pictured: Tommy Fleetwood
This week marks a monumental week, as the home of golf is set host the 150th Open Championship.
This is the 30th time that the Open Championship will be hosted by St. Andrews.
The first order of business when constructing a first-round leader card is to examine whether starters in the morning or afternoon have historically had the advantage at The Open Championship, and specifically at St. Andrews.
In the past 10 renewals of the Open Championship, there have been 13 first-round leaders or co-leaders. Of the 13, eight of the first-round leaders have teed off in the morning.
In the past two Open Championships at St. Andrews (2010 and 2015) both of the first-round leaders have come from the AM:
2010: Rory McIlroy (-9)
2015: Dustin Johnson (-7)
Therefore, the first-round leader trends at the Open Championship seemingly have a slight bias to the morning starters.
When building a first-round leader card, the other important factor to keep an eye on is the weather. Particularly in Open Championships, unfavorable weather draws have resulted in half the field (or more) being completely wiped out of the tournament.
As of now, there isn’t a clear weather advantage for the AM or PM starters, but the situation should be monitored up until the first tee time.
To be safe, I think it’s wise to target a few players from both the AM and PM wave just in case one of the waves gets a major advantage.
2022 Open Championship First-Round Leader Bets
Jordan Spieth (+3300)
Whenever I bet Jordan Spieth outright, I make sure to pair it with a first-round leader bet.
The last time St. Andrews hosted the Open Championship, Spieth was two back of the first-round lead and ended up finishing just one shot out of an eventual three-man playoff between Zach Johnson, Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman.
Spieth was also the first-round leader of the 2017 Open Championship, which he went on to win.
This one is simple: Spieth is one of the best Open Championship players of his generation and also tends to be an incredibly fast starter, especially in major championships.
Round 1 Tee Time: 10:10 a.m. ET
Tommy Fleetwood (+4500)
Since 2017, Tommy Fleetwood has been a terrific Open Championship player. His four starts in the event have all resulted in a top-33 finish, with his best performance being a 2nd-place finish in 2019.
The Englishman had a scorching hot Sunday round at the Genesis Scottish Open, which catapulted him to a tie for fourth place on the leaderboard. The most impressive aspect of that round was his ball striking. Fleetwood gained a whopping 4.25 strokes from tee-to-green on Sunday alone.
Tommy is getting hot at the right time and can carry his Sunday momentum into the first round at “The Old Course”.
Round 1 Tee Time: 3:14 a.m. ET
Dean Burmester (+15000)
Dean Burmester had a great week at the Genesis Scottish Open and finished in a tie for 10th place in a historically loaded field.
South African golfers have had a great track record at St. Andrews, and Burmester seems to have taking a liking to the course, as well. The big hitter is a combined -19 in his past four rounds at St. Andrews in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
Burmester was fifth in the field last week in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green and will have the power to give himself some eagle looks on Thursday.
Round 1 Tee Time: 1:57 a.m. ET
Henrik Stenson (+15000)
If there’s any event in which Henrik Stenson may be able to compete with the world’s best players, it may just be the Open Championship.
Since his legendary win in 2016 outdueling Phil Mickelson at Royal Troon, he’s gone 11th, 36th and 20th in three starts at the event prior to a missed cut in last year’s very un-open like Open Championship.
Stenson clearly hasn’t had his best game the past few seasons, but seemed to show some form in his most recent start at the Scandanavian Mixed. He’s also gained strokes on approach in six consecutive PGA TOUR starts.
Older players have often found revitalization at the Open Championship, and Stenson may just be the golfer who shocks the world by contending.
Round 1 Tee Time: 7:42 a.m. ET