To win

To lead after the first round

I’ve tipped Smith each-way at Kiawah Island this week, and the Australian’s knack for fast starts means he’s also worth a look in the first-round leader market.

Smith ranks first on the PGA Tour in first-round scoring average this shooting, with an average of 68.54 across 13 rounds to date.

He’s on a run of five consecutive strokeplay finishes of 17th or better, and two of his best recent results have been based on strong opening rounds. He was T7 after round one at the WGC-Workday Championship in February and led the RBC Heritage last month having fired a 62 on Thursday.

With top-10 finishes in his last two major starts, Smith has proven he can compete at these events and he made a T6 start at last year’s Masters.


To win

To lead after the first round

Wallace comes into the PGA Championship in good form, having gone 3-T34-T18-T6 over his last four starts.

The Englishman shot under 70 in three of those opening rounds, including a 65 at the RBC Heritage in April, which left him T3 at the end of Thursday’s play.

With its seaside setting and windy conditions, Kiawah Island is a course that should suit European Tour players used to links golf, and for of the top six players were British when this venue last hosted the PGA Championship back in 2012.

Four of the top five after the first round were also European, and Wallace looks one of the top candidates to hold the Thursday lead if players from the continent dominate early on once again.


To win

To lead after the first round

Kokrak has been one of the most consistently good starters on the PGA Tour this year, ranking sixth among all players in first-round scoring average.

In his last six strokeplay starts, the American has been inside the top 11 after round one on five occasions, including two T4s.

That run includes some big events, too. He was T8 at the end of Thursday’s play at the Masters last month, and T4 after the first round at March’s Arnold Palmer Invitational.

At 35 and with one PGA Tour win to his name, Kokrak may not have the quality to go all the way at Kiawah Island this week, but his experience means he won’t be daunted by the occasion and it would be no surprise to see him start well yet again.

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