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Tom Jacobs makes his picks in the Mexico Open First Round Leader market. Who can start quickly on the PGA Tour this week?

2024 Mexico Open First Round Leader Picks and Predictions: Back Jaeger For a Fast Start

A relatively new event on the PGA Tour, we have only seen two renewals of the Mexico Open so far, with Jon Rahm and Tony Finau winning, and beating each other in both renewals.

With this in mind we haven't really learned too much, other than the two best players in this field both years have finished 1-2 on the week. Will that be the case again this week? Will Finau come out of the gates fast and carry that on throughout the weekend?

While it might be hard to beat Finau in the outright market, there is every chance one of the longshots this week will get off to the fastest start in this field, as they have done over the past two years.

Let's look at how we might find this week's First Round Leader below.

Mexico Open First Round Leader Strategy

There have only been two renewals of this event so far, and we had a six-way tie for the lead after day one in 2022 and a solo leader in 2023. Interestingly, almost all of them teed off in the morning.

Find out the leading scores for each first round leader at the Mexico Open below.

  • 2023 – Austin Smotherman (8:29 am #10 Tee) - 63 (-8)
  • 2022 - Jonathan Byrd, Kurt Kitayama, Trey Mullinax, Bryson Nimmer, Jon Rahm, Brendon Todd - All teed off in the morning, other than Kurt Kitayama, who teed off at 1:35 pm. The other five all teed off at 8:35 am or earlier - 64 (-7)

Looking at the past two years, you will be hoping your first round leader picks are teeing off in the morning, as this looks to be the favorable time of the day.

With no adverse weather expected in round 1, I would still take a single shot in the afternoon, but stacking the morning wave makes sense. There will be a very slight increase in wind and gusts in the PM, but nothing major.

Who in this Field Started Fast on Tour Last Season?

Here are the 5 fastest starters in the field based on their Round 1 Scoring Average in the 2022/23 PGA Tour season.

  • C.T. Pan (6th overall in 2022/23 – Scoring Average 68.89 – Low Opening Round – 66 (Bermuda Championship)
  • Andrew Novak (8th Overall in 2022/23 - Scoring Average 69.04 - Low Opening Round - 64 (Wyndham Championship)
  • Stephan Jaeger (10th overall in 2022/23 – Scoring Average 69.16) – Low Opening Round – 65 (Mexico Open)
  • Dylan Wu (14th overall in 2022/23 – Scoring Average 69.22) – Low Opening Round – 63 (Bermuda Championship
  • J.J Spaun (18th overall in 2022/23 – Scoring Average 69.31) – Low Opening Round – 64 (The Sentry)

What Score is Required to Lead After Round 1?

64 was only good enough for a six-way tie for the lead in 2022, but a year later, Austin Smotherman shot 63 to lead by one going into Friday. Your golfer needs to aim for a 63 to lead after round one.

The Favorites in the First Round Leader Market This Week

Here are the favorites in the First Round Leader market at the Mexico Open this week.

  • Tony Finau (+2200)
  • Nicolai Hojgaard (+3000)
  • Emiliano Grillo (+4000)
  • Stephan Jaeger (+4000)
  • Thomas Detry (+4000)

2024 Mexico Open First Round Leader Picks

Here are my picks in the First Round Leader for this week's Mexico Open. I had to go for four again...

Stephan Jaeger +4000 (DraftKings)

Stephan Jaeger loves a fast start and also seems raring to go on Thursday. That makes him fairly reliable in this market, even if he is hard to trust in the outright market.

Jaeger finishes 15th here on debut, largely thanks to a 3rd round 64, a score that will no doubt put him in contention in this market this week. Returning last year, Jaeger then opened with a round of 65 to sit in 4th place after round one.

The German has elevated his game in the past year or so, and while he hasn't won the PGA Tour just yet, he is a Thursday King.

20 times in his career, Jaeger has ended Thursday within two shots of the first round lead. Seven of those instances across the Korn Ferry and PGA Tour were also first round leads, so he's comfortable making a fast start to tournaments.

The most recent occasion of him sitting within two of the first round lead, was here in 2023 when he opened with that 65, and if a couple more putts drop for him this week, he could lead at Thursday's end.

In 2024, Jaeger has opened with a 65 in the Sony Open (3rd), shot a second round 65 at the Amex, and then he was able to follow up this up with a second round 64 to take the lead at the halfway point at Torrey Pines.

Jaeger is in the form of his life, returns to Mexico where he plays well, and is more than capable of shooting the lowest score of the day, even in the PM wave.

Taylor Pendrith +4500 (BetRivers)

Going all in on Taylor Pendrith doesn't necessarily feel right, but that is what I am doing this week, as I am adding to an outright bet on Pendrith, with a First Round Leader wager as well.

Like Jaeger, Pendrith is playing some of his best golf right now and that can lead to success on Thursday. Since missing the cut at the Fortinet Championship, Pendrith has finished inside the top 15 five times, missing the cut on each other occasion. Four of these starts were also top 10 finishes, so he's clearly playing well enough.

He is seemingly boom or bust, and I think that is fine when betting on him in a more volatile market, like FRL. We want the player that is going to be aggressive especially on day one, and I am sure Pendrith fits that bill.

19 times since 2014, Taylor Pendrith has ended the day within two shots of the first round lead, and he started fast here last year, with an opening 65. He couldn't keep up with Austin Smotherman in 2024, but I think that changes this time around.

Alejandro Tosti +7000 (BetRivers)

It felt right to take one more golfer from the afternoon wave, with a lack of any real wind this week, and Alejandro Tosti fits the ball.

Tosti averages 66.00 in round 1 so far this season, opening with a round of 66 so far at the Sony Open, the American Express, and the Farmers Insurance Open.

The Argentian could only finish 70th in Hawaii, but after opening with a 66, also closed with a 64, and with fast starts in his next two starts, it is clear Tosti is at least consistent on the opening day of the tournament.

Last year Tosi fired a round of 67 to get himself into the top 20 after a slow Thursday, and then he closed out the week with a round of 64. With a closing 64 here last year, and a closing 64 recently in Hawaii, Tosti clearly isn't afraid to make birdies.

A two-time winner during his Latino America tour days, and his 10th here last year, Tosti is happy playing closer to home, and that should continue this week.

Andrew Novak +9000 (FanDuel)

Andrew Novak turned pro in 2017, and ever since making his way onto the Korn Ferry and PGA Tours, he has been a perennially fast starter.

From 2018 - 2021, Novak secured four first round leads and also finished round 1 within two shots of the lead on three more occasions.

Once he got to the PGA Tour, these fast starts continued, as Novak has been within two of the first round lead six times, including here at the Mexico Open in 2022. He has yet to lead after Round 1 on the PGA Tour, but this week that could change.

Novak opened with a pair of 65s in Phoenix, where he sat in 2nd place after rounds 1 and 2, and he can shoot another low one here, on a course he's played well at over the past two years.

In his two starts here, Novak has shot rounds of 66 and 67 to start the week, and he was inside the top 3 after 36 holes on debut, so it is clear he likes this course.

Going out in the first group off the 10th tee, Novak looks worthy of a first round leader bet this week in Mexico.

Article Author


Tom Jacobs is the host of the Lost Fore Words golf podcast and has been writing betting articles on golf for the past decade. Tom also co-hosts the DP World Tour Picks & Bets show on the Mayo Media Network, so has his finger on the pulse on all the major Tours. A long-suffering Nottingham Forest fan, Tom also enjoys watching Soccer at the weekend, and was delighted to see his Forest team win promotion this season!


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