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Open first-round leader tips: Go with early birds at Carnoustie

The Open gets under way on Thursday and it looks like the early starters have a slight advantage over those heading out in the afternoon in the first-round leader market.

The weather forecast is set fair for the whole day but the wind is expected to pick up from when the first shot is hit in anger at 6.35am.

Sandy Lyle, Martin Kaymer and Andy Sullivan will be teeing off in the first group in a moderate north-easterly breeze of 6mph which will increase to around 14mph by the time the likes of Ian Poulter and Bubba Watson start at around 3pm. At a featureless course like Carnoustie that could give the morning crew the edge.

History also tells us that leaders at the end of Thursday tend to come from the first wave of players as they benefit from the best of the greens, so for these reasons we have picked out three players from the morning group for our Open first-round leader predictions.

BetStars are also offering seven places on this market so we're looking to take advantage of some of the juicy Open odds on offer to get the tournament off to a flying start.

First up is Brandon Stone who shot the lights out of Gullane with a closing 10-under-par 60 to win the Scottish Open by four shots at the weekend despite having no form this year.

The 25-year-old South African missed a seven-foot birdie chance at the last for the first 59 in European Tour history but his confidence will be high ahead of his third Open appearance.

Stone finished 13th at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in October when he shot a five-under-par 67 at Carnoustie. Admittedly the course was in completely different shape then with easier tees and a softer course.

Carnoustie will be a different beast over the next four days with bunkers in play from most holes, but Stone is a big hitter and there's a chance he can take some of them out of the equation with driver although he will need to improve upon a 50% driving accuracy record from the Scottish Open.

Still, Stone deserves a chance at 125/1 to be leading after round one as the first of our free golf betting tips.

Next up at another triple-figure price from the same group is Stewart Cink with Open odds of 110/1. The 45-year-old American beat eight-time major winner Tom Watson in a four-man play-off to win the Open in 2009 and he was sixth at Carnoustie when it was last played here 11 years ago.

Cink has been in great form over the last few weeks, following up fourth place at the St Jude Classic with joint second at the Travelers Championship a couple of weeks later. Shooting 68 in the opening round in his last three tournaments suggests he could burst out of the blocks quickly, augmented by a decent tee-off time at 8.36am.

Eleven of Cink's last 12 rounds have been sub-70 and he also shot a 62 at TPC River Highlands and 64 at TPC Southwind, both coming over the weekend so he could not be in better shape.

Finally, we like Emiliano Grillo's chances at 125/1. The 25-year-old Argentinian is super accurate off the tee which will be a big plus with those fairway bunkers waiting to catch out errant drives.

Brandt Snedeker hit the ball 427 yards in a practice round on the 18th so length will not be much of an advantage this week, ideal for a player like Grillo who still averages 294 yards off the tee.

On the negative side Grillo has missed the cut in his last four majors but he shot an opening-round 69 at Troon two years ago on his Open debut. With five top 10s on this season's PGA Tour, Grillo is in great form and his first-round stats aren't too shabby either, firing 68 or better in five of his last seven tournaments, including a 64 at Colonial at the end of May.

Open first-round leader betting tips

Traders' Tips - View from the trading floor

A bit of a sleeping giant coming into this week, Belgian bomber Thomas Pieters will know a fast start is crucial and is also favoured with an early tee-time, meaning at least 50% of his round will be in more benign conditions than the late starters. Played Gullane in 64-66 at the weekend and Betstars punters should definitely get bang for their buck at 70s, with the market paying seven places.

The Open: 8 Places @ 1/5 Odds Place an each-way Outright Winner bet on The Open Championship 2018 and get paid for a top-8 finish.

Check out our Open Championship preview here

Warren Barner
@warren_barner in Golf