The Open first-round leader: Garcia to lead Royal Troon charge

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Holding the 18-hole lead at a major championship won’t see a special wreath placed around that player’s neck or any silverware handed over, but for punters correctly guessing the name of Thursday’s clubhouse king, it’s an early cause for celebration.

Royal Troon plays host to the 145th Open Championship and after sizing up various metrics we’ve whittled down a shortlist of three potential first-round leaders.

Here they are in odds order:

Sergio Garcia @ 33/1

Many people’s tips to finally shake that majors monkey off his back at his favoured one of the four, Garcia has made 15 cuts and registered nine top 10s at The Open among that hoard of weekend appearances. Whether you believe he really can emulate Dustin Johnson’s long-awaited breakthrough at the US version, the Spaniard is a hot pick for first-round honours. He’s one of only eight in the field to have held the 18-hole lead in pursuit of the Claret Jug and since shooting that opening 65 in 2007 he’s featured in the top five of Thursday’s leaderboard twice more. His last three finishes heading into Troon read 1-5-5, where he scored 63, 68 and 71 through round one respectively.

Graeme McDowell @ 66/1

After a few seasons out of the limelight, the former US Open champion is reaping the rewards of rediscovering his renowned driving accuracy. McDowell sits eighth in the PGA Tour’s driving accuracy charts and anyone who has followed or played links golf knows what a crucial thing it is to keep the ball in play off the tee. A tenth-place finish in similar conditions at the Scottish Open a few days before bodes well for the Northern Irishman, as do two other occasions where he’s led the Open after 18 and two other top-five Thursday placements.

Nicolas Colsaerts @ 125/1

The Belgian arrives on Scotland’s west coast on a prevailing wind thanks to his weekend’s exploits on the lest-heralded east flank of the country. Closing rounds of 66 in Inverness catapulted Colsaerts into third at the Scottish Open and he has form for leaping out the blocks at this major. Only Adam Scott’s course-record tying 64 at Royal Lytham and St Annes in 2012 kept 65-shooting Colsaerts off top-spot after round one.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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