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How First Round Leaders Have Finished at Recent PGA Tour Majors

First-round leader betting is a fun, quick sweat on PGA tournaments — you get a lot of the excitement of betting an outright winner without having to wait four grueling days, and there is also the possibility of a tie at the top. Isn’t that we all are searching for, tying for first? And if you’re into betting first-round leaders and outrights at majors, it makes sense to check out how those leaders after Round 1 have ultimately finished their tournaments. So today let’s check out how first-round leaders have fared at the past handful of majors as well as where PGA major winners have stood at the end of Round 1.

First Round Leaders at Recent PGA Tour Majors

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2024 PGA Championship First Round Leader

First Round Leader: Xander Schauffele (Won)

Schauffele absolutely blew up the first round at Valhalla, shooting a 62 to lead by three strokes. And though he didn’t quite match that the rest of the tournament — and others like Bryson DeChambeau, Collin Morikawa and Viktor Hovland pushed him for the lead — Schauffele held on with some brilliant shots in Round 4 to beat DeChambeau by one stroke.

The first-round 62 got Schauffele to +225 to win the tournament heading into Friday, up from his pre-tournament +1400. He remained the favorite before every round the rest of the tournament but never got below +225 before tee-off on any of the three subsequent days.

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2024 Masters First Round Leader

First Round Leader: Bryson DeChambeau (Finished T-6th)

Winner: Scottie Scheffler (2nd After Round 1)

Even after DeChambeau posted a 7-under Round 1, the expectation was that Scheffler was going to get out in front at some point. His streak was simply too hot leading up to the 2024 Masters — winning the two high-level tournaments, the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the PLAYERS Championship. Plus, Scheffler was only a stroke back of DeChambeau anyway.

DeChambeau’s first round got him from +3500 pre-tournament to +500 to win, but even with the lead, Scheffler was way out in front at +160 to win the Masters heading into Day 2. Alas, that’s exactly what happened.

DeChambeau made out OK by finishing sixth, but Days 2 through 4 were forgettable: 73, 75, 73 to end just 2 under.

2023 Open Championship First Round Leader

First Round Leaders: Emiliano Grillo (Finished T-6th), Tommy Fleetwood (T-10th), Christo Lamprecht (T-74th)

Winner: Brian Harman (T-4th After Round 1)

It’s interesting to look back on this first round because Harman ended up running away with it and didn’t even have the first-round lead. Granted, he shot 67 and the three leaders shot 66, but still.

Lamprecht, an amateur, played the round of his life here, and it quickly went downhill the next three days. It wasn’t so bad that he missed the cut after a first-round lead, but it was shockingly close thanks to a Round 2 79. Shockingly, his odds jumped only to +6000 to win outright as he held a share of the lead.

Fleetwood got up to +500 and Grillo to +2000, but Harman put them both away after his second-round 65 to take the lead that he never gave up.

2023 U.S. Open First Round Leader

First Round Leader: Rickie Fowler (Finished T-5th), Xander Schauffele (T-10th)

Winner: Wyndham Clark (T-3rd After Round 1)

Interestingly, this U.S. Open did not end up being all that high scoring after Round 1 had it look like a shootout waiting to happen. Fowler and Schauffele grabbed the first-round lead with 62s, and it seemed like half the field shot under 70. Five players did so in Round 1 and ended up missing the cut.

But things evened out after that, and ultimately it came down to Clark versus Rory McIlroy at the end of the day. Fowler and Schauffele were +550 and +250, respectively, to win after Round 1, but Schauffele fell back and ended 10th. Fowler hung in better and was +250 heading into Round 4, right there with McIlroy and Clark, but he fell apart with a 75 and drifted back to fifth.

Clark held off McIlroy to win his first major, and he didn’t get below +500 until the end of Round 3.

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2023 PGA Championship First Round Leader

First Round Leader: Bryson DeChambeau (Finished T-4th)

Winner: Brooks Koepka (T-38th After Round 1)

This was a wild comeback from Koepka — going from six shots off the lead after Round 1 to the winner’s circle thanks to scores of 66, 66 and 67 in Rounds 2 through 4. He even held off the nigh-invincible Scheffler’s final round of 65 to win by two strokes.

Koepka’s odds to win actually dropped after the first round, going from +2000 pre-tournament to +4000. His second round got him to +1000, and then the second 66 pushed him up to the favorite at +120.

DeChambeau, on the other hand, never got higher than +1200 despite that first round lead, as he went 71, 70, 70 to close. Still, that got him a respectable tie for fourth.

2023 Masters First Round Leader

First Round Leader: Jon Rahm (Won), Brooks Koepka (Finished T-2nd), Viktor Hovland (T-7th)

This is the only example in recent major history of the first-round leader going onto win, and it was a three-way tie after Thursday. Three players posted 65s in Round 1, but then things leveled out throughout the weekend, and Rahm ended up winning by a comfortable four strokes over Koepka despite merely passable days of 69, 73 and 69.

Koepka was actually the favorite heading into the weekend at +140 before Round 3, with Rahm back at +200. Koepka was even shorter than even money before the final round (-110), but shooting 75 did him in and Rahm cruised down the stretch.

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Sam Smith

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