The First-Round Leader (FRL) bet in golf is one of the best bang-for-your-buck bets in all of gambling.
While some people wait six months to cash a +300 ticket on the Golden State Warriors to win the NBA Championships, FRL bettors have to endure roughly 10 hours to cash tickets that can climb into the triple-digits.
Long shots may not win golf tournaments very often, but it’s not all that rare for them to top the board after just 18 holes — even at Augusta National.
There is no right or wrong way to bet FRLs.
It is a random exercise and is more about having some fun and getting a good sweat in, so you’ll want to bet small and embrace the high upside of this wager instead of lumping big bucks.
Here are a couple of players worth backing in the FRL market:
2023 Masters First-Round Leader predictions and picks
Justin Rose (+5000, BetMGM)
This one is quite simple.
Rose has cashed four FRL tickets at Augusta in his career and has been playing solid golf in a resurgent 2023 campaign.
Don’t overthink this one.
Si Woo Kim (+6000, FanDuel)
A sleeper across all formats and markets, Si Woo Kim seems to be turning a corner in his career.
The South Korean always had a tournament-winning upside, but he also carried some serious blowup potential as his game could disappear without warning.
These days, Kim seems to be a steady hand, as he’s missed one cut in 2023.
Kim has a win and a smattering of Top-25 finishes already this year and ranks 22nd in round one scoring average in the 2022-23 PGA Tour season.
Tom Hoge (+6600, BetMGM)
Hoge has only participated in one Masters Tournament, but that shouldn’t deter you from backing him in some form over the weekend.
The Fargo, N.D. native has found his footing on the PGA Tour over the last calendar year and is checking into Augusta in decent form.
Hoge finished T14 at the Genesis, then missed the cut at the Arnold Palmer, but rebounded with a T3 at THE PLAYERS in his last full-field start.
Hoge ranks 24th on the PGA Tour in Round 1 scoring average this season and that number would be a lot higher if it was not for some ugly numbers at the API and THE PLAYERS.
Russell Henley (+10000, FanDuel)
It’s been an up-and-down 2023 for Henley, but he did put together his best showing of the year in his last start with a T19 at THE PLAYERS.
And although it hasn’t translated over to this season, Henley was one of the hottest starters on the PGA Tour during the 2021-22 campaign. Only Rory McIlroy, Cam Smith and Joaquin Niemann posted better Round 1 scoring averages last season than Henley did.
Though he’s only played in one Masters since 2018, Henley’s got some decent course history here with a pair of top-15 finishes.
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Cameron Champ (+10000, BetMGM)
Champ is as boom-or-bust as they come on the PGA Tour, but the 27-year-old has shown a knack for being able to knock the ball around at Augusta National.
Champ has finished no worse than T26 in his three starts at the Masters, and he was coming off a T10 performance in 2022.
Champ may not have the consistency in his all-around game to win this tournament, but his length off the tee should give him a viable opportunity to make some noise on Thursday.