US Open First Round Leader

It is very rare in Major Golf these days to get favourable weather forecast for the entire week, but here we are and together with a firm, different golf course we have the recipe for one of the best renewals in a long time.

The draw which so often matters most in round one looks to be levelled out this year with little advantage to going early or late.

If I had to side I'd go with later starters simply because of a shade more cloud cover, but that could be negated by greens getting that little bit faster as the day continues. 

Click here for my outright US Open preview.

US Open First Round Leader Predictions & Tips

  • 0.75pt each-way C.Smith first round leader  45/1  (1/5 7) Unibet
  • 0.75pt each-way C.Conners  66/1 first round leader (1/5 6) General
  • 0.75pt each-way W.Zalatoris first round leader  66/1 (1/5 7) Unibet
  • 0.75pt each-way M.Hughes  150/1  (1/5 6) Paddy Power

 

Cameron Smith at 45/1 (Seven Places)

Scheffler is the shortest price first round leader we've ever seen in this generation and the top price of 12/1 isn't worth risking. Instead my first selection goes the way of Australian Cameron Smith.

Smith has been inconsistent on the LIV circuit this year with a handful of finishes outside the top 40 but with a couple of runner up finishes has shown what he is capable of on the right venue. I'm unsure whether Smith is playing well enough to win this with a four day gruelling challenge being a tough nut to crack for someone not in his best form, but 'm in little doubt as to how suited he is to the course.

His short game can shine around Pinehurst and in an interview I saw with him yesterday he gushed about how much he liked the test and how it was exactly as he had hoped it would be.

The 2022 Open Champion landed three first round leads in 2023 and is capable of a fast start here at Pinehurst.

0.75pt each-way C.Smith first round leader  45/1  (1/5 7) Unibet

Cameron Smith - 0.75pts e/w @ 45/1

Corey Conners at 66/1 (Six Places)

Short game will play a huge part this week and it wouldn't surprise me to see a few ball striking experts towards the top over the first couple of days only for their short game to come under too much pressure over the weekend.

Corey Conners remains one of the best ball strikers in the field and he has the ability to go low on day one if he manages to hole a few putts. Conners hasn't missed since a his weekend off at the US Open last year and has become one of the more consistent golfers on the circuit.

Plenty of greens will be missed here this week but he remains among one of the favourites to hit the most and over the space of one round that could be crucial.

He has two first round lead successes in the past 14 months and also has a first round lead in a Major to his name at the PGA of 2021 at Kiawah Island. 66/1 looks a fair price to get into the mix once again early doors. 

0.75pt each-way C.Conners  66/1 first round leader (1/5 6) General

Corey Conners - 0.75pts e/w @ 66/1

Will Zalatoris at 66/1 (Seven Places)

Will Zalatoris has come back to form to the PGA Tour after injury relatively quickly, but hasn't quite hit the heights expected as of yet.

When he posted a runner up finish at Riviera, then 4th at Bayhill thereafter he looked like he was right back at the top of his game. It hasn't quite worked out after that but there is no doubting his abilities when the going gets tough.

His Major record is outstanding with his latest top 10 coming at the Masters this year. His golf since then hasn't been up to that standard but a three ball pairing alongside Tiger Woods could bring out the best in him.

Zalatoris practiced with Tiger at the Masters this year and cited him as one of the reasons he was able to recover from injury. Woods helped him through surgery and the mental battles to get back on tour and Zalatoris couldn't have wished for a better draw on day one. 

0.75pt each-way W.Zalatoris first round leader  66/1 (1/5 7) Unibet

Will Zalatoris - 0.75pts e/w @ 66/1

Mackenzie Hughes at 150/1 (Six Places)

At 150/1 I'm happy to chance Mackenzie Hughes who gets a favourable draw alongside his fellow countryman Nick Taylor. The Canadian has shown enough in the past month to warrant respect here finishing 7th in the Canadian Open and 6th at the Wells Fargo.

He shot the joint lowest score of round 2 in Canada and 2nd lowest in the final round at Quail Hollow. Historically one of the best short game exponents on the PGA Tour, Pinehurst should be ideal for Hughes and two of his best three Major efforts to date have come at the US Open.

In his last 203 events Hughes has landed the First Round lead on five occasions, and although none of those have come in a Major Championship, one did come at the Players Championship at Sawgrass back in 2017.

The odds of 150/1 are very fair here, especially given his draw alongside a fellow Canadian. 

0.75pt each-way M.Hughes  150/1  (1/5 6) Paddy Power

Mackenzie Hughes - 0.75pts e/w @ 150/1