Best first-round leader bets for Pinehurst

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Tom McGarry is tipping three European stars in his best bets for Thursday’s opening round at Pinehurst, including a former champion at this venue.

The 124th US Open begins at Pinehurst Resort on Thursday and each of the 156 participants will be hoping to make a fast start in North Carolina in the third Major of the season.

There has already been drama ahead of the opening round following the news Spaniard Jon Rahm has withdrawn due to injury, with Jackson Suber replacing the 2021 US Open champion.

It promises to be another enthralling battle for Major glory in the Tar Heel State and we have picked out three first round leader selections, headlined by a 10-time DP World Tour winner.

Best bets

Tommy Fleetwood first round leader

40/1

Alex Noren first round leader

80/1

Martin Kaymer first round leader

125/1

Fleetwood to get into early contention

Englishman Tommy Fleetwood will be fancied to break his Major duck this week and he looks to have a solid chance of putting up a low opening score.

The 33-year-old, who has racked up four top-25 finishes in a row heading into the event, has a strong US Open record with a runners-up finish and two top-five results.

Pinehurst should be the right type of course for Fleetwood, a reliable tee-to-green player, and it would be no surprise to see him sitting top of the pile on day one.

Noren to make swift start

World No. 52 Alex Noren has been playing consistent golf on the PGA Tour this season and he has missed the cut just once from his last 10 starts, with the other nine outings producing results of T9, T19, T11, T14, T23, third, T24, T12 and T22.

The 41-year-old Swede has had a habit of starting tournaments quickly and he ranks fourth in round one scoring average on the US circuit, leaving just Scottie Scheffler, Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele ahead of him.

Noren shot a 67 on day one of last month’s US PGA Championship and he looks capable of putting together another low score in North Carolina on Thursday.

Kaymer to revel in Pinehurst return

Pinehurst last staged the US Open in 2014 when it turned out to be a remarkable week for German Martin Kaymer, who blew the field away to win by eight strokes on -9.

That remains the 39-year-old’s last victory and he is now plying his trade on the LIV circuit, a tour he has struggled to make an impact on since joining in 2022.

However, there have been better signs from the German in recent months and he shot an opening round of 64 in Hong Kong in March to sit third, while he posted a 66 when starting strongly in Singapore in May.

Kaymer signed for an opening 65 in last week’s LIV Houston, leaving him tied for the 18-hole lead, and his game is in good shape.

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