Garcia and a 50/1 shot make PGA’s first-round leader shortlist

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Unless you’re Arsene Wenger, who believes finishing fourth deserves a trophy, most sportsmen and women think that a second place is nothing more than the first loser.

Sergio Garcia must be pretty sick and tired of his recent results in that case, as the Spaniard has registered more runners-up spots than Jonathan Brownlee in the triathlon of late.

A stellar return to form has seen the one-time teen sensation land the silver medal in all of his last three starts, the last two of which have seen him follow Rory McIlroy past the finish line.

While his world golf ranking is higher than it’s been since 2008, Garcia will want to break his runners-up streak the right way at Valhalla during the PGA Championship by winning his maiden major title.

The six-capped Ryder Cup star is 16/1 to achieve that feat, but will need to get off to a fast start in order to keep pace, or better, the flying Northern Irishman’s form.

Luckily Garcia is in a fine position to just that and is therefore a cracking bet at 22/1 to be the PGA Championship’s first round leader.

In his last seven first rounds, Garcia has shot sub-70 five times and has a first-round scoring average of 69.45 on the PGA Tour this season, a mark that makes him the seventh-best player in that category.

Recent nemesis McIlroy leads that particular stat, however, with a first-round average score of 67.91 and considering he was the clubhouse leader after the first day’s play at the recent Open Championship, is a worthy favourite to repeat the trick in Louisville at 6/1.

Based on this season’s first-round scoring, Ryan Moore’s 50/1 price looks far too big. The FedEx Cup’s 18th-placed golfer has been the second-best starter on average among his PGA Tour peers this term and has shot 66 or better in three of his last four opening rounds.

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

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.