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FREE EXPERT 2022 Masters Picks: Who to Bet as First Round Leader

Geoff Ulrich



While first-round leaders bets at regular PGA Tour events often produce plenty of longshot winners, The Masters traditionally has produced bigger, more elite names. Last year, Justin Rose produced a superb 7-under par, and the previous year a combo of Dustin Johnson (the eventual winner), Dylan Frittelli and Paul Casey shared first-round leader honors. Jordan Spieth has also been the first round leader at this event in three of the last seven iterations and led after round one of his historic 2015 win. With a glimpse back at the history of these bets, let’s use that as a baseline for 2022 Masters first round leader bets and predictions this week. Below, you will find our expert Masters betting picks.

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2022 Masters Picks: First Round Leader Bets & Predictions

Last 10 Masters First Round Leaders

2021 – Rose -7
2020 – Casey, Frittelli, Johnson -7
2019 – DeChambeau, Koepka -6
2018 – Spieth -6
2017 – Hoffman -7
2016 – Spieth -6
2015 – Spieth -8
2014 – Haas -4
2013 – Garcia, Leishman -6
2012 – Westwood -5

Timing-wise, Augusta has been good for afternoon starters. Five of the last six solo first-round leaders have gone off after 12 p.m. ET. The wind this week does seem to be slowly building in the afternoon, but Thursday also looks like the calmer and warmer of the first two days. With these three picks, both sides of the draw will be targeted this week as the wind should be calmer in the morning and provide an advantage from that standpoint, even if recent history has suggested the later starters may have a slightly better chance of going low in the short-term trends.

Rory McIlroy +2800 | DraftKings

Rory McIlroy goes off in the last group on Thursday. It is an interesting spot, but it has also been pretty solid for first-round leaders. Both Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau went off towards the tail end of round one in 2019 (on their way to being first-round leaders) and Jordan Spieth in 2018 went off near this time as well. McIlroy is obviously coming off a disappointing week at the Valero but will have also had extra prep time to hit the ground running this week. He has been a fast starter throughout his career and is a former first-round leader at Augusta as well (2011). An opening 66 at the tough Bay Hill just a month ago, which had him in the lead after round one as well, is also a great sign that his game is not that far off. McIlroy’s +2800 is bigger than his outright number and he is in a spot where he should be focused on coming out hot after disappointing last week.

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Russell Henley +4000 | DraftKings

Another fast starter who has a nice beginning to 2022 is American Russell Henley. He enters this week ranked third in round one scoring on the PGA Tour this season and has produced rounds of 69 or better in eight of his last 11 starts. Henley is also in the sweet spot in terms of starting positions with a 12:13 ET starting time, which is right around where last year’s first-round leader, Justin Rose went off. Henley is a Georgia native and has often outperformed expectations at this event, producing finishes of 21st, 11th and 15th in his last three visits. Henley may not have the length to compete for the outright win, but certainly has the ball-striking needed to produce a hot round off the top. He is returning to this event after three years of not qualifying and should be chomping at the bit to take on Augusta again. Awesemo likes him at 40-1 as one of the best first-round leader Masters picks this week.

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Erik van Rooyen +10000 | DraftKings

If you want a longshot who also provides early starting times, then Erik van Rooyen is a name that should pique your interest. He is coming off a 13th-place finish at the Players where he was absolutely striping his irons and ended the week second in strokes gained approach stats. Van Rooyen has been playing well over the last month, gaining on his approaches in each of his last four starts. Trusting him to putt well for four rounds is a tougher ask, but he can certainly get hot with that club for a round on Thursday and comes with odds that will not cost much to invest. He has competed well in other majors and WGC events, producing an eighth-place finish at the 2019 PGA Championship and a third at the 2020 WGC Mexico. He would also benefit from the afternoon gusts being stronger than forecast and gives some cheap exposure to that early section.

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