By Aidan Elder | Chief sports writer
Picking the winner of a Major can be tough. It’s very tough based on the evidence of the history section of my betting account. Finding a player who is going to perform consistently well over the four days of potentially changeable conditions isn’t easy.
The ‘Leader after Round One‘ is always one way of limiting the uncertainty. It’s got lots of advantages. You get prices similar to the ‘Outright Betting’, but without the hassle of getting your hopes up or pulling your hair out for an extra three days. It front loads the disappointment of realising you’ve no actual talent for picking golf winners and gives you the chance to roll the dice a second time ahead of the weekend. Or is that just me?
Based on some office chit-chat, I got to thinking, ‘is there a trend we can exploit?’ Is leading after the first round related to a lack of golfing stamina based on age, a rather rotund figure or a high ‘flash in the pan’ factor? Not really, but here’s a list that you might be able to pick some trends out of.
Leaders (including co-leaders) after Round One for the last 15 years
Justin Rose – 3 (2008, 2007, 2004)
Fred Couples – 2 (2010, 1998)
Chris DiMarco – 2 (2005, 2001)
David Love III – 2 (2002, 1999)
Lee Westwood – 1 (2012)
Rory McIlroy – 1 (2011)
Alvaro Quiros – 1 (2011)
Chad Campbell – 1 (2009)
Trevor Immelman – 1 (2008 – Eventual winner)
Brett Wetterick – 1 (2007)
Vijay Singh – 1 (2006)
Darren Clarke – 1 (2003)
Dennis Paulson – 1 (2000)
Brandel Chamblee – 1 (1999)
Scott McCarron – 1 (1999)
Nick Price – 1 (1999)
John Huston – 1 (1997)
Justin Rose (16/1) is the stand out candidate. For many years he was the quintessential choker of golf, blazing a trail over the first few days of a tournament only to collapse on the final day like a badly self-assembled IKEA chair. He’s won more than enough novelty over-sized trophies since to dis-spell that harsh preconception, but he’s yet to do it at the Masters. Still though, he’s finished Day One on top of the leaderboard three times in the last 15 years and as long as you back him in the Leader After Round One betting, you can afford to care less what he does after that.
He’s been coming to Augusta since golf clubs were still made of hickory wood, but Fred Couples (80/1) still manages to perform well at the Masters. He’s been Leader After Round One twice in the last 15 years. At 53, he’s slightly younger than four Guan Tian-langs, but he can still get himself up the leaderboard, particularly early on in proceedings.
Of the other previous first round leaders playing this time around, Rory McIlroy (12/1), Lee Westwood (28/1) and Trevor Immelman (125/1) (who went wire to wire to win in 2008) have an obvious chance. Deer antler or no deer antler Vijay Singh (100/1) is an interesting option. The 2000 Masters winner hit the front early on in 2006 and he’s still good enough to get it together for another solid round to propel him up the leaderboard.