Each week of the PGA Tour season, the first-round leader market is one of the juiciest 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.
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 Valspar Championship rankings
I've listed the top 20 here based on their total model score. I've also included the rating based on first-round strokes gained at Innisbrook in the last four years.
Click header to sort; the better their position, the more the rubric likes them
|9||An, Byeong Hun||0.987|
Innisbrook Copperhead first-round strokes gained the last four years
|POS||PLAYER||PTS||R1 SG TTL|