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The PLAYERS Championship
TPC Sawgrass – 7,189 yards – Par 72

Thanks to Jason Day being able to exercise some demons at Quail Hollow last week, I've hit my second winner in a little over a month on the PGA Tour after Patrick Reed added the Green Jacket to his wardrobe back at Augusta. Speaking of Majors, the PGA Tour has the unofficial “5th Major” going this week as the “best field in golf” takes center stage at TPC Sawgrass for the PLAYERS Championship.

This is a tournament that's highly sought after among tour players and is often viewed as a launching point for many careers. It's got some iconic holes (most notably #17) that can be feast or famine for guys, as scoring on Par 4's and bogey avoidance are two critical stats you'll want to excel in this week to have a chance. Course history can go a long way too here given the intricacies TPC Sawgrass can bring, and with this venue being the host site for this prestigious event, taking a look at some historic trends are in order.

To start, 10 of the last 11 winners at the PLAYERS Championship made the initial cut at this event the year before. The only exception was Jason Day back in 2016 after a MC in 2015, while Rickie Fowler won in 2015 after making it to Saturday in 2014, but no further with a MDF. Of the nine previous winners who fit that mold, their average finishing position at TPC Sawgrass the year prior to winning was 25.4, so taking a look at last year's leaderboard isn't a bad place to start.

Speaking of last year's results, while there are guys who have won here multiple times, no golfer in the history of this tournament has successfully defended their title. So sorry Si Woo Kim (+8000) fans, history suggests he probably won't be in the conversation come Sunday. Furthermore, since the PLAYERS moved to this spot in the calendar in 2007 and after the Wells Fargo every year but one (2015 the Tour played the WGC Match Play prior to the PLAYERS), no winner of the Wells Fargo has ever won here the same year. So as much as I liked Jason Day (+1400) last week, he's not making my betting card this week, even as a former champion.

Taking that idea a step further, seven of the past nine winners at the PLAYERS didn't even tee it up the week prior at Wells Fargo, again, with 2015 and the WGC event being the outlier and counting for one of those two results. So as good as the field was last week, chances are you'll want to be avoiding the majority of guys who were in Charlotte last week as history isn't on their side.

Furthermore, with this event being classified as the “5th Major” and often considered a springboard for one's career, it's important to note that only four of the past 14 winners here had already won an “actual” Major prior to winning at TPC Sawgrass. That list consists of Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Martin Kaymer, and Jason Day, so shying away from Major winners isn't necessarily a bad option either.

Finally, with the “best field in golf” attracting the world's best players, it should be no surprise that non-US golfers have excelled here in the past. 10 of the last 16 winners at the PLAYERS have been from outside of the US and should it happen again this year it would make it three straight years of it being the case. However, only once before have we gone 3+ years without an American winning this tournament (four straight from 2008-2011) so US players shouldn't be completely ignored this week.

So with all that being said, let's get to my list of guys to watch out for this week:

Odds per

Golfers to Watch

Jon Rahm (+2200) – Rahm is a guy that's hard to ignore this week as he's coming off a win over in Spain the last time he teed it up individually, and prior to that we saw him finish 4th at Augusta. Rahm also fits a lot of the historical trends I outlined earlier as he's yet to win a Major, didn't tee it up at Wells Fargo, hails from Spain, and has all the talent and skills to take this title down.

Rahm will have to go the MDF route that Rickie Fowler took in 2015 after an 82 on Saturday at the PLAYERS last year sent Rahm home early, but in an event that's considered a “career springboard” for many, Rahm's career – which is already on a steep upward trajectory – could be taken to another stratosphere with a victory this week.

Ian Poulter (+5000) – Poulter is another guy that should find himself in contention on Sunday, especially with some strong course history at TPC Sawgrass to back him up. Poulter has a pair of runner-up finishes at this event in his career, including one of those coming last year. That T2 finish in 2017 puts him in the category of that 25.4 average finishing position at the PLAYERS the year prior for past winners, and having not teed it up a week ago, not having a Major on his resume, and being a non-US player as well, he checks all the boxes for the historical trends that lead to success here.

Patrick Cantlay (+5000) – Cantlay is a guy that could use the springboard that a PLAYERS victory often gives one's career as he was the next prodigal talent in this game before injuries derailed the early part of his career a few years ago. But Cantlay has bounced back well the past 12-24 months, and after finishing T22 here a year ago with a rough Sunday (77) the reason that finishing spot wasn't much higher. Like Rahm, Cantlay has all the tools to excel at a venue like this, and other than being an American, he checks all the historical trend boxes I've previously mentioned.

JB Holmes (+25000) – If you're looking for a longshot flyer, I'd look no further than JB Holmes this week. Homes did tee it up at Wells Fargo last week, but like my thoughts of Jason Day looking to avenge his mistakes at Quail Hollow from the 2017 PGA Championship, Holmes definitely has a bone to pick with TPC Sawgrass and the PLAYERS.

Last year at this tournament it was Holmes who went into Sunday with the lead at -9, only to completely implode on Sunday to the tune of shooting an 84 and finish T41 with a +3 total. After putting together rounds of 68, 69, and 70 the first three days, Sunday was a complete disaster for JB and he probably hasn't forgotten about it since (like Day and #18 at Quail Hollow in Round 3 in 2017). Now that's not to say Holmes will follow Day's path and get complete redemption with a win, but at 250-1 the price is worth taking a stab with if Holmes can put himself in contention again by Sunday and some enormous hedge opportunities are presented.

Odds to win The PLAYERS Championship - per
Rory McIlroy +1400
Jason Day +1400
Justin Thomas +1400
Dustin Johnson +1600
Jordan Spieth +1600
Rickie Fowler +1800
Jon Rahm +2200
Justin Rose +2500
Tiger Woods +2500
Henrik Stenson +2800
Sergio Garcia +3300
Phil Mickelson +3300
Paul Casey +3300
Patrick Reed +3300
Hideki Matsuyama +3300
Bryson DeChambeau +4000
Tommy Fleetwood +4000
Brooks Koepka +5000
Bubba Watson +5000
Kevin Kisner +5000
Alex Noren +5000
Matt Kuchar +5000
Francesco Molinari +5000
Marc Leishman +5000
Patrick Cantlay +5000
Ian Poulter +5000
Tony Finau +5000
Cameron Smith +6600
Louis Oosthuizen +6600
Emiliano Grillo +6600
Zach Johnson +6600
Billy Horschel +6600
Kyle Stanley +6600
Luke List +8000
Brian Harman +8000
Tyrrell Hatton +8000
Branden Grace +8000
Chesson Hadley +8000
Adam Scott +8000
Kevin Chappell +8000
Si Woo Kim +8000
Daniel Berger +8000
Brandt Snedeker +10000
Russell Henley +10000
Rafael Cabrera Bello +10000
Ryan Moore +10000
Charl Schwartzel +10000
Pat Perez +10000
Jimmy Walker +10000
Adam Hadwin +10000

Odds Subject to Change

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Golf Expert Sports Picks - THE PLAYERS Championship
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