Cameron Smith, of Australia, celebrates after making his putt on the 18th green during a playoff in the final round of the PGA Zurich Classic golf tournament at TPC Louisiana in Avondale, La., Sunday, April 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
- The 103rd PGA Championship from Kiawah Island, South Carolina tees off Thursday, May 20th
- Rory McIlroy is the +2200 favorite over Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm and Jordan Spieth to lead after the first round
- See the best bets and odds to grab the first-round lead in the article below
The second major championship of the year has arrived at the picturesque and diabolical Ocean Course at Kiawah Island.
With the strongest field of all the majors assembled in South Carolina, McIlroy is the favorite to win his third career PGA Championship and first major title since 2014. Behind him are Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm and Jordan Spieth.
In this article, we’ll explore which players have the best chance of being the leader after day one, along with what players are playing well on Thursday’s this season.
2021 PGA Championship First Round Leader Odds
|Golfer||Odds at FanDuel||Tee Time|
Odds as of May 18th
2021 PGA Championship Odds Tracker
The forecast is expected to be sunny all day with no chance of precipitation, with low 70’s degree temperatures when the morning wave tees off and getting warmer to the low 80’s for the afternoon players.
There will be slightly lower wind gusts in the morning around ten miles per hour, reaching up to the high teens for the afternoon wave.
Another benefit for those teeing it up in the morning is the exact same as it is every week – less bumpy greens with fewer players chewing them up.
Cameron Smith Leads First Round Scoring
When considering which golfers could take the first round lead, look no further than Cameron Smith, who has the best first round scoring average this season. Eight of his thirteen Thursday’s have resulted in a round in the 60’s.
He also won in his last start at the Zurich Classic – the sixth straight event that he’s been 17th or better.
2020-21 PGA Tour First Round Scoring Average Leaders
|1. Cameron Smith||68.54||+5000|
|2. Patrick Reed||68.75||+4500|
|3. Brian Harman||69.06||+6000|
|4. Webb Simpson||69.08||+4100|
|5. Cameron Tringale||69.12||+10000|
|6. Jason Kokrak||69.13||+8000|
|7. Keegan Bradley||69.22||+6000|
|8. Joaquin Niemann||69.33||+6500|
|9. Emiliano Grillo||69.40||+9000|
|10. Patrick Cantlay||69.46||+4500|
Smith is eighth in birdie average, and in his last 36 rounds on tour, he ranks sixth in total strokes gained and twelfth in putting. He’s also second in both par-3 and par-5 scoring on the campaign.
That will give him plenty of opportunities to make birdies to grab the first round lead, which won’t be foreign for him, as he led the RBC Heritage in his last individual tournament after 18 holes.
- Pick: Cameron Smith (+5000)
Jason Kokrak Putting Together Solid Season
Continuing with the theme of golfers who have scored well in opening rounds is Jason Kokrak, who earlier in the season won the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek. He’s sixth in scoring average on Thursday’s, having posted just one score worse than 71 all season long.
He’s plenty long off the tee to be able to take on the longest golf course in major championship history, ranking 31st in distance and 19th in SG: off-the-tee. In his last 24 rounds on tour, he’s been very consistent in all facets.
Kokrak’s Strokes Gained Stats In Last 24 Rounds
|Off-the-Tee||Putting||Total||Ball Striking||Tee-to-Green||Short Game|
For the season, Kokrak has been fantastic on the dance floor, ranking sixth in putting which will bode well for his potential opportunities to go low Thursday. He’s also 27th in birdie average and has been inside the top-15 in four of his last five individual stroke play tournaments.
- Pick: Jason Kokrak (+8000)
Cameron Tringale a Darkhorse Possibility
If you’re looking for a long shot to grab the first round lead, Cameron Tringale is a tremendous candidate. He’s fifth in first round scoring and eighth in scoring average. Before missing the cut at his last start, he finished T-3, T-9 and T-13 in his three previous individual tournaments, beginning the three weeks with rounds of 66, 67, 69.
Tringale has gained strokes tee-to-green on the field in 13 straight events and in his last twelve rounds, he’s eleventh in total strokes gained. He makes a lot of birdies too, ranking 23rd in that category, making him an intriguing option at these long odds.
- Pick: Cameron Tringale (+10000)
Michael “Hound Dog” Harrison is well known in the sports industry as the resident statistician for the SC with Jay Onrait Show. He has worked at TSN for over 13 years, where he’s been featured on Sportscentre, That’s Hockey, That’s Hockey 2Nite, The Masters preview shows, and several more.