The search for five first round plays in the PGA Championship

Not long now until the second Major of 2021 is underway and here are some ways you can get your week off to a great start.

Questions remain about exactly what we're about to witness on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island this week.

Will it be a brutally long slog?

Another week in which the fiendish Pete Dye design is the hot topic?

Will seaside specialists prevail?

Just how strong will the wind be?

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By the close of play Thursday we'll be closer to understanding the drift, but for now we remain a little in the dark.

Nonetheless, there are ways to have a first round play that do not rely solely on guesswork.

Let's take a look at five possibilities.

Sergio Garcia to miss the cut

In one sense, this week's test ought to suit Sergio Garcia.

It's by the seaside, there are echoes of the Ryder Cup, he's won THE PLAYER Championship on a Dye design at TPC Sawgrass.

In another, the numbers are bad.

He's made just two cuts in his last 12 major championships starts.

He's hasn't made one cut in his last five appearances in this week's championship.

And he's failed to make the weekend in his last three starts on the PGA Tour.

That's all so bad you'd think a weekend is due, but that stats suggest he'd be odds on to miss the cut and yet you can get 13/8 with Skybet that he'll miss it.

Bubba Watson to win his first round three-ball

The two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson is up against the 2016 Open champion Henrik Stenson and the same year's Masters winner Danny Willett.

Truth be told there are worries about the state of all three of them.

Englishman Willett has had his struggles with Pete Dye designs - he's played on them 15 times and made the top 50 just the once.

Meanwhile, Stenson just can't get a break with his form.

He hasn't gone sub-70 since the final round of his first start of 2021 in Abu Dhabi and his first round average in 2021 is 74.67.

Watson's doesn't have a great record in his event, but he was T11th at Kiawah in 2012, lost a playoff at Whistling Straits in 2010, and he arrives fresh from a pair of top 20 finishes.

Back Watson at 5/4 with Bet365.

Kurt Kitayama to win his first round three ball

The Ocean Course is the longest layout in major championship history and it is also a very windy seaside track with Paspalum.

Take those three factors and the name Kurt Kitayama might not be the most obvious one to gain profit from, but he might be worth remembering.

He's always ranked top 10 for Driving Distance on the European Tour - first tick.

He won his first event on the circuit in windy conditions Mauritius and his second in a gale in Oman, both by the sea - second tick.

He's also putted well on Bermuda grass and also Paspalum - third tick.

In the first round he is up against club pro Fran Bensel making it not a definite but a probable head-to-head with Robert Streb.

The latter won at Sea Island at the end of last year, but he's got a 75, 76 and 78 among his last six round one scores.

Back Kitayama at 10/11 with Unibet.

First Round Leader - the outsider

Back in 2012 a European, Carl Pettersson, led the way and, behind him with good early scores, were Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Alex Noren and Joost Luiten.

By the end of the week David Lynn, Jamie Donaldson and Peter Hanson were right up there.

What do they all have in common? Excellent records in Portugal on blustery, open, resort courses with modern greens and grainy grass.

Take that route with a bolter on Thursday. South Africa's George Coetzee is another European Tour regular with a great record in Portugal (10 finishes of T31st or better in 11 starts, six of them top sevens, including a win last year).

He played in the county twice last year, six of his laps were sub-70, three were 66s. He also had the first round lead in the Portugal Masters in 2017.

He's also got a very early tee time so he'll get the lightest of the wind if the forecast is correct. He's a whopping 300/1 with Sport Nation.

First Round Leader - the solid option?

A bit obvious? Maybe.

But perhaps sometimes the obvious is worth pursuing.

Consider this: when this championship came to the Ocean Course in 2012, Rory McIlroy did not win courtesy of one good round but, rather, thanks to three of them.

He was tied for second after 18 holes, with only Carl Pettersson going lower.

In the third round only eight men went sub-70 and McIlroy's 67 tied the best score of the day with three others.

And on the final circuit his 66 was again the second best effort of the day.

So, in three of those four laps McIlroy would have secured a return on the best score in a round.

He's also fond of a Thursday gallop. Even in his last 14 starts when, until the last of them two weeks ago at Quail Hollow, he wasn't playing very well, he still landed one solo and two shared first round leads.

He's best price 22/1 with Bet365.

READ MORE: Five ways to back Rory McIlroy in the PGA Championship Kiawah Island

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