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First-round leader wagers make for some of the greatest sweats in all of sports betting. There’s nothing quite like begging your 100/1 longshot to hold on to his one-shot lead late on a Thursday afternoon as the world’s best chase him from behind.

If you’ve never dabbled in the wonderful world of FRLs, the 2022 Open Championship is the perfect place to start. So, let’s dig into how to build a first-round leader card and try to score a massive payout at St. Andrews this Thursday.

How to build a first-round leader card

Louis Oosthuizen tees off prior to the 2022 Open Championship.
Louis Oosthuizen plays a shot from the 18th tee during the Celebration of Champions prior to The 150th Open at St. Andrews Old Course | Stuart Franklin/R&A/R&A via Getty Images

Diversify your prices

First-round leader bets are a lot like outright bets in that you don’t want to crowd your portfolio with too many favorites. Including Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele, and other golfers in the top tier will only weaken your potential profit, so it’s wise to sprinkle in some longshots if you’re going to go big-name hunting at the top of the odds board.

Target volatile birdie machines

I normally reserve my outright bets for players who have already proven they can win on the PGA Tour. That’s completely different in FRL world, however.

Hundreds of players in any given tournament are capable of catching fire and shooting the round of the day, even if they don’t have the mettle to best a stacked field over the course of four rounds. FRL betting is a great way to target these high-priced players without wasting a longshot outright.

As for myself, I like to target volatile golfers who have the ability to get scorching hot with the irons or the putter. Birdie or better percentage is my favorite stat to target in that regard.

So, with that in mind, let’s get to our Open Championship FRL card.

First-round leader card for the 2022 Open Championship

Scottie Scheffler 33/1
1 unit to net 25 units

Scheffler ranks third on Tour in birdie or better percentage this season, and he’s fired 12 Thursday rounds in the 60s in 21 starts.

Cameron Smith 40/1
1 unit to net 32 units

Smith has been a Thursday terminator all year long. He ranks sixth in first-round scoring average and second in birdie or better percentage this season.

Dustin Johnson 50/1
1 unit to net 42 units

Not many bettors will want to touch Johnson because of the LIV Golf drama, but no one can touch him when everything’s clicking. DJ was also the first-round leader at St. Andrews in 2015, so I think he’s worth a shot.

Louis Oosthuizen 55/1
1 unit to net 47 units

Oosthuizen has a win and a T2 in his two Open Championship starts at St. Andrews. Enough said.

Sungjae Im 66/1
1 unit to net 58 units

Im isn’t just a capable birdie machine, he’s also the best player on Tour at avoiding bogeys this season.

Haotong Li 90/1
1 unit to net 82 units

Li won the BMW International Open last month after opening the week with a 62. He was also the 36-hole leader at the 2020 PGA Championship, so he’s proven he can go low in majors.

J.T. Poston 90/1
1 unit to net 82 units


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Poston has opened up his last two starts with a pair of 62s. Something is clicking for the Postman right now, so let’s ride whatever it is.

Mackenzie Hughes 125/1
1 unit to net 117 units

Hughes isn’t a great ball striker, but if he sees a few 20-footers drop early on Thursday, he may not miss for the entire round.

Sepp Straka 200/1
1 unit to net 192 units

A bomber who can push it to the greens on these par-4s and putt the lights out when he gets hot? At 200/1? Sure.

Don’t use your typical unit size for these, but if you throw five bucks on all nine FRL bets, for example, you can win anywhere from $125 to $960 if one of them hits.

Let’s start off The Open with a winner!

All betting odds courtesy of Oddschecker as of 7/13.

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