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Cognizant Classic First Round Leader Picks, Bets & More (2024)

We pick up and head to east as the TOUR tees off its Florida swing this week in the Palm Beaches. The “Honda” may be gone but the Cognizant Classic is still played at the familiar confines of PGA National’s Champion Course. Florida is known for weather – wind – and water, two massive areas of concern that can swing anyone’s round the wrong way. Having a sense of familiarity here is huge. In this post, we’ll be providing our Cognizant Classic first round leader picks, bets and some more info, but let’s drop some context first.

We’ve hit THREE First Round Leaders in the OddsShopper discord this year, including this past week’s EVR after the start of the first round. Jump in the Discord ahead of this week as we’ve cashed some massive tickets – some of them live during the events!

We will weigh a couple of key metrics in both establishing a first round lead, and ultimately the best fits for this course. One thing to note about the Champion Course at PGA National is not every golfer needs to be playing great if they have a comfortable history here.

Putting is always important to weight, especially for any first round leader (FRL). It’s a metric that can distance a golfer from the field, even if it’s for one day. Tee times are vital for more success in choosing the Cognizant Classic first round leader picks, as golfers in the earlier groupings seem to get the better of the course – weather notwithstanding. The last thing to keep in mind is overall value compared to FRL pricing. Most, if not all, odds in the first round are based on overall price to win – not necessarily first round history.

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The Cognizant Classic First-Round Leader Picks

Keys to Cognizant Classic First-Round Leader Picks In 2024

Scrambling and avoiding bogeys will be a huge area of focus this week in Florida. While distance will always help, especially controlled distance, the weather can take a brutal turn and upend anyone’s round. The temps are expected to be in the high 70s with rain coming – possibly – by Sunday. The cloudy conditions could lead to a sprinkle but it’s expected to remain relatively dry. The wind is always a concern as gusts can increase even on a calm start to the day.

Getting out early in Florida is another area of focus as less chances for the elements to take over, also a faster round for the earlier golfers. There are a couple of names that jump out with the earliest of tee times including someone in the first grouping. Overall, we want to focus on golfers who gain strokes on approach shots, around the green, scrambling, and avoiding bogeys – notably with their putter. This and a knowledge of how the course works with the surrounding elements will cash our ticket.

Cognizant Classic First-Round Leader Bets

Cognizant Classic First Round Leader Picks: Keith Mitchell +6000 Bet365

Keith Mitchell finds himself in one of the earlier spots to tee off on Thursday, coming off a T19 at Mexico and T17 at the Waste Management. He’s playing solid golf despite losing strokes last week both on and around the green. It’s a good sign because outside of Rory McIlroy, this field doesn’t wield a ton of big names to overcome, and Mitchell settling down with his putter would lend to a fast start.

Neither of his last two starts – both better than T20 – were necessarily great outings for Mitchell but he’s a tweak or two away from becoming a legit threat to win this event. We only need him to “win” the first round, as he’s had an abundance of success at the formerly known Honda classic – including taking the event in 2019.

In the two starts where Mitchell struggled, it was his approach shots that killed his chances. He’s been hitting the ball better getting to the green overall, and showed that in 2022 with a T9 finish. Mitchell tees off just after 7aE on Thursday and should be in control of his approach shots. He knows the course, the conditions, and won’t be scared off by any of this field.

At 60-1 he’s a strong candidate to lead after one round.

Best Cognizant Classic First-Round Leader Bet: Keith Mitchell +6000 Bet365

Cognizant Classic First Round Leader Picks: Byeong Hun An +4500 DraftKings

Benny An is a threat right away as he’s in the first grouping of tee times. He’s cut-free in the last five events he’s played, starting with the Sentry, and has a rich history of success at PGA National. He comes in fresh off his T21 finish in last year’s Honda, with a T4 and T5 in years prior. Benny knows the Champion Course and seems to thrive off these conditions. The water concerns don’t always come from above as the course is littered with dangerous and wet OB all over, so navigating this course with successful history speaks to Benny An’s game.

The biggest concern is An’s putting, downright atrocious at times, but still not preventing him from finishing ahead of most golfers. If he can get on a semi-roll with the flatstick, he’s going to be tough to catch.

Best Cognizant Classic First Round Leader Picks: Byeong Hun An +4500 DraftKings

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