PLAYERS Championship Picks, Odds and Predictions

The week has come for the unofficial fifth major of the PGA Tour: THE PLAYERS Championship. They call it that because every single elite player in the world always shows up to try and best one of the hardest courses the Tour has to offer: TPC Sawgrass.

Something's a little different this year though. Several of the top players that typically show up here will not be in attendance, obviously due to LIV Golf. One name stands out above all the rest though, and that is defending champion Cameron Smith.

Even without those golfers, TPC Sawgrass should be its normal, mystifying self. We have always viewed this tournament as a sign of things to come, because the Masters is a month away from now and we truly get into the greatness of the golf summer following that.

Let's dive into this tournament though and see who can take over the title of PLAYERS champion from Smith this week.

Golf Betting Resources
2023 The PLAYERS Championship

  • Date: Thursday Mar. 9 - Sunday Mar. 12, 2023
  • Venue: TPC Sawgrass
  • Location: Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
  • Par-Yardage: 72, 7,189 yards
  • Defending Champion: Cam Smith
  • TV: NBC, Golf Channel

One simply does not get comfortable at a course like TPC Sawgrass. The course can be friendly one year and a menace the next, with anything from weather conditions to water hazards making even the confident player's week a living hellscape.

There is a water hazard in player on 17 of the 18 holes and with 80+ bunkers on the course, THE PLAYERS has been top five in most penalty strokes taken in each of the last five years.

Given all the issues that one can run into here, there's no great strategy to overpower this course. It rewards above all elite approach play and navigating issues off the tee, as Good Drives Gained and Strokes Gained: Ball Striking become two of the most important stats to follow this week.

At the end of the day, there's been many different types of players who have a successful history here. Bombers like Rory McIlroy and Cam Smith have solid resumes while shorter hitters like Si Woo Kim and Webb Simpson have victories at THE PLAYERS in the last several years.

The PLAYERS Championship Best Bets

The Players Championship
Betting Odds

An event like THE PLAYERS would normally see the top 10% of the field get considerable action, with one expecting that so many of the top players in one spot would drive one of them to take home the title. That hasn't necessarily been true in the past decade though, as there have been multiple winners that opened at longer than 60 to 1 odds, most notably Si Woo Kim who opened at 500 to 1 in 2017.

For the first time this season, Rahm (+1100) is not the favorite at a tournament he is participating in, as McIlroy (+950) has flipped the odds board following his runner-up finish at Bay Hill while Rahm finished a disappointing T39. Scottie Scheffler (+1100) rounds out the three golfers inside the 15/1 range.

After that group, both Patrick Cantlay (+1600) and Justin Thomas (+2000) are the next group to come along, and both are coming off of solid showings at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week and should be considered strong contenders. Thomas in particular, is one of the more prolific golfers at this course in recent years despite not capturing a title.

The Players Championship Contenders

  • Rory McIlroy +900
  • Scottie Scheffler +1100
  • Jon Rahm +1100
  • Patrick Cantlay +1600
  • Justin Thomas +2000
  • More Golfers
  • (Odds Subject to Change)

Max Homa (+2200) and Collin Morikawa (+2500) both fit the bill as golfers who are looking to make a splash at this year's tournament; Homa in particular is looking to improve on his T13 last season as Morikawa has yet to finish inside the top 40 here.

Finally don't count out the ever-dangerous trio of Xander Schauffele (+2500), Tony Finau (+2800) and Jason Day (+2900), all of whom are playing solid golf so far this season, especially Day, a past champion here who has been plenty close to a victory this season.

Contender to Back
The Players Championship

Collin Morikawa +2500

Morikawa begins my list of players I want for this event because he's simply due at this point. He wins in high-leverage situations, with two of his five wins coming at majors and THE PLAYERS is absolutely no different, despite who isn't there this season.

He also grades out well for what this course demands, despite missing the cut last season and coming in 41st the year prior. He ranks 2nd in Good Drives Gained over his past 24 rounds (+29.7), which has been highly correlated to success at TPC Sawgrass in years past, as well as 10th in Strokes Gained: Approach, which never fails to make for elite weeks of golf.

Morikawa should be highly motivated to get his Masters' prep going during this week's event due to a missed cut at the Arnold Palmer last week, so expect him to come out firing at pins on Thursday. I'll be placing a wager on his First Round Leader odds at +4000 as well.

Mid-Range Value
The Players Championship

Keith Mitchell +6000

Mitchell doesn't strike you as the kind of golfer that would win on a course like this typically, but he's channeled his game to solid levels recently.

The most important stat that you can say about Mitchell refers to him leading the PGA Tour in total driving, which combines driving distance and driving accuracy together. He averages 312 yards per drive, and he mashes that together with a 67.74% driving accuracy number. Both numbers rank top 15 in their respective fields, but where Mitchell differs is that he's up there in both, while most long drivers are not also that accurate. Mitchell's near 70% accuracy number basically means he hits the ball about 20 yards longer than your average PGA Tour member, while being nearly 20% more accurate as well.

That's one dangerous combo.

Long Shot Pick
The Players Championship

Seamus Power +15000

Power somehow has been going off at 150/1, which is insane odds for a player who has not missed the cut in any of his nine previous events this season. In addition to that, he's also never missed the cut at THE PLAYERS, with a T33 and T35 on the resume for his two starts here.

Power is a player who struggles a bit at times with the irons, but makes up for it with stellar putting and Around the Green play. In this week's model, he ranks in the top 30 for both of these metrics, and at a course where bogey avoidance is of paramount important, that skill is invaluable to have.

Par 5 Scoring is another stat that can help you considerably if you are good at it on this course, and Power ranks 3rd in strokes gained on par 5s entering this week. He could potentially make a splash, and is at a terrific number to throw a dart.

Top-20 Placement
The Players Championship

Keegan Bradley +200

Bradley is a player who may not be winning tournaments right now, but he is on a scorching path as he has 3 top 20s or better in his last 4 tournaments, as well as a nice string of top finishes at THE PLAYERS as well.

Bradley is on a short list of three total players that have not missed the cut at TPC Sawgrass in any of their three previous appearances as well as have gained 15 or more total strokes. The others on the list are Justin Thomas and Corey Conners, so he definitely isn't in bad company.

Bradley's putting, always an issue for his game, has improved this season. Bradley has gained over two strokes putting in seven events since last year's event here, and he gained strokes putting in 3 of 4 rounds last week too.

How to Bet on Golf

Golf betting has gained much more exposure and interest in the past few years, and with plenty of plus-money prices littered throughout the various forms of golf wagers, the chance for bigger scores is part of the reason behind that increased popularity.

2023 Golf Betting Schedule

Sportsbooks ensure that there are no shortage of wagering options on golf tournaments every week, and it isn't all about picking the winner. Grabbing the outright winner of a golf tournament is the best way to get that 'big score' but it's also the hardest wager to cash. After all, a typical professional golf tournament has a field of 140+ different players to consider.

Understanding Golf Odds and Bets

Most golf odds are listed in the fractional format – 10/1 on Dustin Johnson for example – and in that particular case you would multiply the amount bet by that first number to project your winnings. So a $100 bet on DJ to win that particular event would win you $1000.

If you are more comfortable with the American version of odds listings that you typically see across the other major North American sports – ie +1000 – these numbers are easily convertible. Online and app based books may already have that option built in, but the easiest way to do it yourself is to add two zeros to the first number in the fraction. So a 10/1 price on DJ converts to +1000 in that format.