2023 Sentry Tournament of Champions first-round leader picks and model
Fantasy Golf & Golf Betting

2023 Sentry Tournament of Champions first-round leader picks and model

A photo of golfer Jon Rahm

Each week of the PGA Tour season, the first-round leader market is one of the juciest and most difficult to predict. With such a small sample size of first rounds, the fickle nature of form and the vagaries of splits, tee times and weather, there's a good reason these bets pay off so well when hit.

2023 Sentry Tournament of Champions: Tournament Model | Field | Rankings | Horses for Courses | DFS Picks | Betting Odds | One and Done | Course Breakdown | Past Results | Cheat Sheet | Recent Form | Finish Database | Discord

Now, we're going to try to help you win more PGA Tour first-round leader bets. In addition to our weekly model, which has a great track record of identifying PGA Tour winners every week, we're launching a first-round leader model that looks at the players most likely to wind up with at least a share of the first-round lead.

How the rubric works

Finding a first-round leader is difficult, so our model uses several factors to identify a potential FRL.

I've started the model by looking at first-round strokes gained against the field in the last 50, 20 and 10 tournaments played. I also include first-round strokes gained in those timeframes against courses with similar first-round scoring averages in the last five years. Then I add in a player's first-round history at the host golf course. Add it all together, and that's our projected FRL number for a player.

There are plenty of factors data can't quantify, including luck of the draw, playing partners, hole locations, weather and sheer random stuff. However, all told, the model is designed to point out quality players and boost those middling players who have good current form or good course history.

2023 Sentry Tournament of Champions rankings

With this being an experimental feature subject to tweaking, it will remain available for free until I feel it's dialed in properly. Then it will only be available for GNN members.

I've listed the top 20 here based on their total model score.

Click header to sort; the better their position, the more the rubric likes them

1 Cantlay, Patrick 1.513
2 Wise, Aaron 1.427
3 Rahm, Jon 1.142
4 Scott, Adam 1.142
5 Thomas, Justin 1.137
6 Schauffele, Xander 1.045
7 Scheffler, Scottie 0.871
8 Power, Seamus 0.85
9 Horschel, Billy 0.847
10 Mullinax, Trey 0.813
11 Young, Cameron 0.8
12 Spaun, J.J. 0.742
13 Hovland, Viktor 0.718
14 Fitzpatrick, Matt 0.62
15 Harman, Brian 0.614
16 Henley, Russell 0.557
17 Morikawa, Collin 0.503
18 Kim, Tom 0.444
19 Bradley, Keegan 0.407
20 Burns, Sam 0.321

About the author

Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for nearly 20 years. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He is currently a +2.6 USGA handicap, and he has covered dozens of major championships and professional golf tournaments. He likes writing about golf and making it more accessible by answering the complex questions fans have about the pro game or who want to understand how to play golf better.

Ryan talks about golf on various social platforms:

X or Twitter: https://twitter.com/ryanballengee
Facebook: https://facebook.com/ryanballengeegolf
Instagram: https://instagram.com/ryanballengee
YouTube: https://youtube.com/@ryanballengeegolf

Ballengee can be reached by email at ryan[at]thegolfnewsnet.com

Ryan occasionally links to merchants of his choosing, and GNN may earn a commission from sales generated by those links. See more in GNN's affiliate disclosure.