THE PLAYERS Championship 2024 First Round Leader Tips: Tommy to lead the way on Thursday

 | March 12 | 

7 mins read

jamie worsley pga tour

Golf tipster Jamie Worsley has already given us his PLAYERS Championship preview but he also has five tips ranging from 50/1 to 80/1 to lead the way on Thursday in the First Round Leader market. 

THE PLAYERS First Round Leader Tips

  • 1 pt Tommy Fleetwood ew (1/4, 5 places) @ 50/1 
  • 1 pt Min Woo Lee ew (1/4, 5 places) @ 50/1 
  • 1 pt Jason Day ew (1/4, 5 places) @ 55/1
  • 0.75 pts Alex Noren ew (1/4, 5 places) @ 80/1
  • 0.75 pts Erik Van Rooyen ew (1/4, 5 places) @ 80/1

The 50th edition of THE PLAYERS Championship kicks off on Thursday and I’ve got a bumper five selections who I think can make a fast start at TPC Sawgrass.

Each of my first-round leader selections will tee off in the morning. These timeslots have been responsible for ten of the last fifteen players – and five of the last six - to at least hold a share of the first-round lead; with gusts predicted to be doubly difficult for the afternoon starters during round one, I suspect the early starters will again hold the advantage.

1 pt Tommy Fleetwood ew (1/4, 5 places) @ 50/1 

Start time: 08:24

First up is Tommy Fleetwood, who has twice held the first-round lead at TPC Sawgrass previously. I’m expecting him to bounce back swiftly from his Bay Hill disappointments to once again start strongly in THE PLAYERS Championship.

Fleetwood has played a relatively light schedule so far in 2024 but has looked in good shape when he has teed it up, winning the Dubai Invitational on his second start of the year and he hit the top 10 at Riviera two starts ago. Before a disastrous second-round 80 saw him miss the cut in last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, something I’m happy to forgive.

The main reason I’m happy to look past the performance at Bay Hill is simply that Tommy has an excellent record at this week’s course. In six visits, he’s recorded two top 10s, when finishing 5th in 2019 and 7th in 2018; just one missed cut came in 2021 and he’s responded by finishing 22nd and 27th in the last two years.

He has fired two rounds of 65, a 66 and two 67s across those starts and has often began quickly, taking the FRL in 2019 with a round of 65 and in 2022 with a 66; both from similar early start times.

Prior to last week, Fleetwood had recorded an under-par round in round one of his nine previous starts and I see no reason why he can’t return to that first-round form this week.

1 pt Min Woo Lee ew (1/4, 5 places) @ 50/1 

Start time: 08:02

Min Woo Lee was an excellent 6th on debut at TPC Sawgrass last year and he looks a strong contender for the first-round lead from his advantageous early start time.

After signing out 2023 in style, winning the Australian PGA Championship and finishing 3rd in the Australian Open, Min Woo has started his first full season on the PGA Tour in confident fashion; making each of his five cuts and he finished runner-up behind Austin Eckroat two weeks ago in the Cognizant Classic.

All areas of this short-game wizards game have looked in good shape but I have been particularly taken with his approach play on his last two starts, which should help him get off to a good start this week.

Min Woo’s 6th-place finish here in 2023 saw him open with a 4-under 68 to sit 5th after round one. He then shot another promising round of 66 in round three; as he looked particularly at home on these greens, ranking 3rd in putting.

With speedy starts in three of his five starts this year, including sitting 8th after the opening round in last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, Lee is showing signs that he could be among the early leaders at Sawgrass.

1 pt Jason Day ew (1/4, 5 places) @ 55/1

Start time: 08:13

Jason Day is another former PLAYERS Championship first-round leader, shooting an incredible 9-under 63 in round one on his way to victory in 2016. His good form this year has been built off the back of generally fast starts and with that early tee-time he looks another obvious contender to hold the FRL this week.

The Australian has recorded three top 10s in six starts in 2024 and missed just one cut, which surprisingly came at Torrey Pines. He’s looked good across the board, ranking top 20 in this field tee-to-green over his last twenty rounds.

Starting quickly has been a key factor in his better performances this year. Day shot a 65 to sit 2nd after round one of The Sentry on his first start of 2024 and has opened with an under par round in every other start (excluding Torrey Pines); again sitting 2nd after round one of the Genesis Invitational following a 6-under 65.

Since his 2016 victory at TPC Sawgrass, he has recorded three further top 20s, finishing 5th in 2018, 8th in 2019 and 19th last year. There have been several rounds of 66/67 across those most recent starts and he has begun each of the last six renewals with an under par round; showing that he not only retains the ability to go low here but continues to get off to promising starts in the event.

0.75 pts Alex Noren ew (1/4, 5 places) @ 80/1

Start time: 08:02

Alex Noren ranks 3rd this season in round one scoring on the PGA Tour and producing his best approach performance in over twelve months on his last start at PGA National, he looks geared up for a strong start this week.

Noren has been in good form for around nine months now and he’s made a positive start to 2024. He hasn’t missed any of his five cuts and recorded a first top 10 of the year last time out in the Cognizant Classic; where as mentioned, he had his best approach performance since the 2022 Houston Open, ranking 6th.

The Swede has an appealing record here, finishing 10th on debut in 2017 and recording further standout finishes of 17th in 2018 and 26th in 2022; over which time he has a pair of 66s to his name.

Noren opened this event with a 68 to sit 3rd after round one in 2017, though went two better in 2018, firing one of those 66s to get into a six-way tie for the first-round lead.

With opening rounds of 61 and 62 over his last seven starts, taking him to first-round leads in the Bermuda Championship and The AmEx, he should be feeling confident that he can make the most of his AM tee-time on Thursday.

0.75 pts Erik Van Rooyen ew (1/4, 5 places) @ 80/1

Start time: 09:08

The in-form Erik Van Rooyen completes my quintet. With a first-round lead to his name just three starts ago and enjoying a hugely encouraging debut here in 2022, I’m hoping he can combine the two to hit the top at Sawgrass in round one.

Van Rooyen has been in terrific form since the end of last year, when he recorded a second PGA Tour victory in the World Wide Technology Championship in Mexico. He has carried that positivity over into 2024 where every area of his game is looking sharp; finishing inside the top 25 in six of his eight starts and recording two top 10s, the most recent of which came when finishing 2nd at PGA National.

Ranking inside the top 20 in this field in strokes-gained total over recent starts, he’s simply playing better golf than most at the moment. This level of play has seen him record several rounds in the low 60s over the last few weeks, firing a 63 to take the first-round lead in the Mexico Open and a 66 was enough to see him sit 9th after the opening round of the Cognizant Classic; before he fired another 63 in the final round there to take him into that runner-up spot.

Van Rooyen shot a round of 67 on his way to a 13th-place finish at TPC Sawgrass on debut in 2022 and will fancy his chances of bettering that effort on current form. He can go along way to achieving that by taking advantage of his early start time.

You can find all Jamie's latest Golf Betting Tips at Betfred Insights 

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