2022 PLAYERS Championship First Round Leader Odds, Picks, Predictions: Back Keegan Bradley, Brian Harman to Start Hot
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images. Pictured: Keegan Bradley
Click arrow to expand 2022 PLAYERS Championship First Round Leader odds via PointsBet
2022 PLAYERS Championship First Round Leader Odds
|Si Woo Kim||+7500|
|Harold Varner III||+10000|
|Erik Van Rooyen||+12500|
|Mito Guillermo Pereira||+15000|
|Andrew D. Putnam||+20000|
|J. J. Spaun||+20000|
Historically, the morning wave at the PLAYERS Championship has generated more first round leaders than the afternoon. Since it’s moved back to March, both of the first round leaders (2020 and 2021) have come from the morning wave. Hideki Matusyama opened with a 63 in 2020 before the tournament was canceled due to COVID-19 and in 2021 Sergio Garcia opened with a 65.
This year however, it looks to be a bit more breezy in the morning so that may even out the scores, nixing any wave advantage. My strategy instead will be to target a few players from both the morning and afternoon.
Although there are different ways to go about betting first round leaders, my approach typically is to bet a handful of long shots. Leading for one round of a golf tournament is far more random than winning a tournament. Therefore, I tend to target golfers who I like for the week that I may not necessarily believe can win the event, but can certainly lead for one round.
PLAYERS Championship First Round Leader Best Bets
Keegan Bradley (+9000)
Bradley is a golfer who typically gets off to hot starts, and I believe has a far greater chance of leading after Thursday (or Friday depending on weather) than he does to win the tournament. He has been playing some great golf for a long stretch of time and has made the cut in nine of his last 10 starts. He’s gained an average of 2.3 strokes on approach in his past five starts and has some good course history at TPC Sawgrass. He hasn’t finished outside of the top 29 here in his past three trips.
Brian Harman (+10000)
Harman’s course history around TPC Sawgrass is unmistakable, as he has finished in the top eight on the leaderboard in three of his last six trips to the course, highlighted by a third-place finish last season. That week, Harman gained 5.2 strokes from tee to green and 7.3 strokes putting. The 35-year-old is a Pete Dye specialist and ranks first in his past 24 rounds in Strokes Gained: Total at Dye tracks. It is obvious that there is something about TPC Sawgrass that fits his eye and I expect him to get off to a great start.
Brendan Steele (+15000)
It’s been a shaky stretch for Steele, but he finally figured out his signature ball striking last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he gained 10.1 strokes from tee to green. He was tied for third with Jon Rahm in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking, which is nothing to scoff at. His flash of brilliance with the driver and irons last week combined with his impressive course history (sixth in 2017) make him a worthy first round leader bet this week.
Danny Lee (+18000)
Lee was scorching hot with the irons last week at Bay Hill, and seems to be rounding into form at the right time as he gained 4.3 strokes on approach. He has the type of game that can go well at TPC Sawgrass and he has done so in the past. He finished in seventh place at the PLAYERS in 2018, mainly due to his 5.7 strokes gained with the flatstick. A hot putting round isn’t extremely sustainable, but can provide a glimpse about how Lee may feel about the greens for one particular round.