The First Round Leader market is a bet that I have started to take more serious in recent weeks and it is also a market which I have enjoyed some success in during this short period, a remark that I hope will apply to this weeks tournament in Kuala Lumpur.
I usually wait till the tee-times are decided before selecting my picks but with just 48 players in this week’s field I don’t think there will be any advantage to be gained between the early & late starters however I do believe the advantage could lie with players who have previously played on this Mines Resort course in Selangor.
I would not put anyone off the chances of last years tournament winner Bo Van Pelt especially after his fine win in Perth last week but at odds of around 13.0 I think he is too short for this first round leader market however I do respect Van Pelt’s chances.
Below are my five selections for this weeks First Round Leader Market…
Jimmy Walker @ 34
In his last outing which came at the Frys.com Open Jimmy Walker produced a brilliant last round 62 on his way to finishing in T-4 and judging by his recent outings I think Walker could be up to making a fast start this week in Kuala Lumpur.
Walker has shot an opening round of 67 or better in four of his last six starts and he also shot 62 in the second round of the Wyndham Championship six starts back.
Being a Texan, Walker should feel at home on this weeks Bermuda Greens and in his sole previous appearance in this tournament which came last year Walker started with an opening round 66 for an overnight T-4 place.
Walker will be a bit fresher than most this week after missing last weeks McGladrey Classic and I think this could show on Thursday with the Texan hopefully making a fast start.
Ryan Palmer @ 41
Like my previous selection Ryan Palmer is a Texan who should enjoy playing on this weeks Bermuda Greens and looking at his previous form in this tournament I think Palmer could be in line for a good week in Kuala Lumpur.
Palmer shot a 3rd round 65 on his way to finishing T-33 in the first running of this tournament in 2010 and last year he shot a 2nd round 65 on route to finishing in T-7.
Palmer’s best opening round of this campaign was a 64 which he shot at both the Waste Management Phoenix Open and the Byron Nelson Championship
Palmer has opened up with rounds of 66 & 67 in his last two starts and I think he can continue with this trend by shooting another low opening round score on Thursday.
Charlie Wi @ 51
Charlie Wi is only playing this week due to Rickie Fowler’s recent withdrawal however just because Wi was not a first choice for this tournament does not mean that the Korean won’t be capable of putting in a big performance because if previous history is anything to go by then Wi could be a danger to all this week.
Wi has fond memories of playing in this part of the world as it was here in Kuala Lumper that he won his first title as a Professional when winning the 1997 Mild Seven Kuala Lumpur Open and in 2006 he made it two Malaysian wins when lifting the Malaysian Open title.
Wi’s only previous appearance in this tournament came in 2010 when he shot an opening round 65 on his way to finishing T-18.
Wi’s best round this year was a brilliant 61 which came in the first round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National.
Ricky Barnes @ 81
Ricky Barnes has two Top-20 finishes here in his two previous appearances (T-11 & 19th ) however the highlight of those two previous starts has to be his first round effort here in 2010 when Barnes produced a brilliant opening round of 63 to finish the day as the outright first round leader.
Besides that round of 63, Barnes also shot a 3rd round 66 here last year and in total, six of his previous eight rounds in this tournament have been in the 60’s.
Barnes best round this year was an opening round 64 which came at the John Deere Classic.
Although he has missed his last two cuts Barnes should be looking forward to returning to Kuala Lumpur and hopefully this will show on Thursday.
Danny Chia @ 151
As the odds suggest the chances of Danny Chia finishing Day 1 as First Round leader is a long shot but I think there is good reasoning for thinking that Chia could start well on Thursday on a course that he will know better than most.
Malaysian Chia is a Kuala Lumpur resident and he used his local knowledge to his advantage in this tournament last year to finish in an impressive T-13 place.
That T-13 finish included rounds of 65 & 66 so this proves that he is well capable of shooting low scores in this kind of company when in the mood.
Chia finished a poor T-69 at last weeks Hero Indian Open but I would imagine that he will relish the chance of playing on his local course this week and his performance in this tournament last year offers hope for his First Round Leader supporters.
Best of Luck