Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:54 AM
The PLAYERS Betting Odds, Preview, Predictions, Picks and PGA Analysis from TPC Sawgrass
The PLAYERS Betting Odds & Best Bets
After just missing with Marc Leishman last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, it's on to one of my favorite weeks of the year in golf; The PLAYERS Championship.
This Pete Dye Classic known as TPC Sawgrass is one of the best venues PGA players get to see every year, and the prestige of this tournament continues to grow with each passing year. The unofficial “5th Major” of the year is exactly that, as it tests all aspects of a player's game, and it's layout really doesn't give a huge advantage to any one skill set.
Date: Thursday March 12 – Sunday March 15
Venue: TPC Sawgrass
Location: Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
Par-Yardage: 72, 7,190 yards
The island green 17th hole tends to get plenty of attention at TPC Sawgrass and rightfully so. It's one of the most visually intimidating shots in the game, despite being a simple flick of a wedge for all these players. But the daunting test that is TPC Sawgrass is so much more then just the 17th hole, as it's an impeccably designed course from start to finish. Guys will be tested in all aspects of their game, physically and mentally, as this is a track that's definitely deserving of that “5th Major” moniker.
In terms of specifics, like the other courses during the Florida swing, TPC Sawgrass is loaded with water and sand for it's main defense, but if the wind kicks up like it has the past two weeks on Tour, guys will be in for some rough days at the office. Aside from keeping the ball dry and off the beach, guys better be able to shape their shots in both directions and trust their experience at this venue, as Pete Dye made sure to have his holes continually go different directions to test players, and knowing where to miss may be just as important as striping the ball with each stroke.
As is the case with most venues on Tour, TPC Sawgrass will reward those guys who are on with their approach game, and not be too penal with those who can scramble around the greens well. Plenty of birdies are out there if guys are hitting their spots, but plenty of big numbers are lurking as well if they aren't. TPC Sawgrass is probably the one course on Tour each year where you'll see such a huge range in scores on numerous holes for that reason.
And if players can survive all that the course throws at them for the four days, then there is just the minor issue of dealing with what is known as “the deepest field in golf”. The best of the best are here to test themselves, and it's no small feat for the man who ends up lifting that trophy on Sunday evening.
Weekly PGA Betting Odds
The PLAYERS Championship
I already noted that this event gets dubbed with the “deepest field in golf” tag and that's clearly the case again this year. Tiger Woods may have pulled out due to health reasons, but outside of him, all the biggest and best names on Tour are teeing it up this week, and only one of them has sub-10/1 odds – Rory McIlroy (8/1)
McIlroy is the defending champion this year, and while there have been a handful or so of guys to win this event multiple times, nobody in the history of this tournament – since 1974 overall, and since 1982 at TPC Sawgrass – has ever successfully defended their crown. That history combined with Rory's price makes him virtually unbackable this week in my view.
After McIlroy, the names that are in the group priced below the 30/1 threshold include Jon Rahm (12/1), Justin Thomas (16/1), Patrick Cantlay (20/1), Bryson DeChambeau (20/1), Dustin Johnson (25/1) and Tommy Fleetwood (25/1). That is a range that consists of plenty of talented golfers, but the depth goes even further in this field as even someone with the pedigrees of saw Justin Rose and Jason Day are listed at 60/1 currently.
Because of the course layout and how it emphasizes accuracy over everything else, longshots can hit here as well. Length advantages for some are completely negated if they are doing nothing but crisscrossing back and forth across fairways, they aren't going to put up good scores. Shorter hitters like Si-Woo Kim, Fred Funk, and Tim Clark are past winners here, and Jim Furyk finished a stroke behind McIlroy a year ago. When the recent winners list consises of McIlroy, Webb Simpson, Si-Woo Kim, Jason Day, and Rickie Fowler, it's easy to see how much of an emphasis is placed on accurate ball striking at TPC Sawgrass.
With that, let's get to the three-pack of guys that I believe deserve some pre-tournament support, although considering the volatility of the scores guys can put up on this track, especially on the back nine, in-play wagering is never a bad option over the weekend as well.
Top 10 Betting Choices
- Rory McIlroy 8/1
- Jon Rahm 12/1
- Justin Thomas 16/1
- Patrick Cantlay 20/1
- Bryson DeChambeau 20/1
- Dustin Johnson 25/1
- Tommy Fleetwood 25/1
- Sungjae Im 30/1
- Xander Schauffele 30/1
- Hideki Matsuyama 30/1
Bet Now (IN, NJ, PA & WV only)
Odds Subject to Change (T&C's Apply, 21+)
The PLAYERS - Golfers to Watch
Favorite: Dustin Johnson (25/1)
A couple of weeks ago when the Tour was in Mexico for the WGC, I had no problem fading DJ in his 72 hole matchup with McIlroy as I believed Johnson was running out of gas after teeing it up for so many consecutive weeks. Johnson's T48 that week with a -1 score suggested that was the case, as he was far from playing his best golf. But after two weeks of rest for Johnson, I've got no problem coming back to him to claim one of the game's richest prizes.
Given all the nuances of TPC Sawgrass, you tend to want to back guys who have experienced some level of success at this track. In fact, of the last eight winners here, seven of them had finished at least 23rd or better in one of their previous three starts at The PLAYERS, with the only outlier being Tiger Woods in 2013.
Dustin Johnson's been inside that range in each of the past three years with finishes of 5th, 17th, and 12th here dating back to 2017, and those have been his three best results here over the past decade. That speaks to his ability to completely learn the nuances of this place, and be comfortable and confident enough to execute at the same time. If he can continue on that trajectory at TPC Sawgrass this week, then a shot at the crown should be the end result.
Statistically, DJ has slipped in a few of the key Strokes Gained categories this year and his scoring average has dropped because of it. But sometimes a little rest can do wonders for guys in that position of struggling to find their groove, and hopefully that's exactly what Johnson needed right now. If he takes care of the four Par 5's with strokes gained on the field, and forces himself to focus on accuracy – which TPC Sawgrass generally does for guys – then this could be his week where he continues his streak of winning at least once in every PGA Tour season since 2008.
Mid-Range: Louis Oosthuizen (60/1)
You can't have too many conversations about the smoothest swings in the game over the past decade or so and not have Louis Ooshuizen's name involved. Like DJ, he fits the trend where he's had a Top 23 or better here in his last three starts at TPC Sawgrass (2nd in 2017), and also like DJ, his game has been in the grinder for the early part of this season. But he's always got that silky smooth swing that when on, should always play well at a venue like this.
Accuracy has always been critical to Ooshuizen's success at this level, and if it weren't for a few missteps on the weekend here back in 2017, I may be talking about him as a past winner of this event right now. Putting four strong rounds together is something that he's more than capable of doing, and with his history of being one of the purest ball strikers in today's game, as long as he keeps his ball dry this week, I do expect him to find his name near the top of the leaderboard this weekend.
Longshot: Zach Johnson (250/1)
Johnson shares the same last name as the favorite in this piece, and shares a similar smooth swing to the mid-range player as well. Lengthy courses tend to price ZJ out of some tournaments, but that's not the case at TPC Sawgrass, and while he doesn't have a Top 23 finish here in the past three seasons, from 2010-2015 he finished no worse then 26th here, with four Top 20's, including a runner-up in 2012.
TPC Sawgrass is a track that suits Johnson's game tremendously, as like Oosthuizen he's predominantly an accurate ball striker that prefers to rely on that to make good scores. His extensive course history here can do nothing but help his chances if his game is on, and after missing the cut here the past two seasons, some extra internal motivation to perform well is probably burning in his torso this week.
|Hideki Matsuyama has been in decent form and one expert is buying him in a matchup pick over Tommy Fleetwood. (AP)|
Whether or not that's the case and/or it comes to fruition remains to be seen, but at this price, he's worth a flyer, at least for a Top 20 finish (+1000).
72 Hole Matchup to Take: Hideki Matsuyama (+100) over Tommy Fleetwood
Truth be told, I debated going right back to the well from last week with Fowler (-115) over Koepka, but decided to go this route with Matsuyama because of the price.
Fleetwood looked awful last week at the Arnold Palmer in missing the cut, and while he's had two Top 7 finishes at TPC Sawgrass the past two years, consistent success at this venue every year is very fleeting (no pun intended) because of all the hazards. All it takes is for a few loose swings to pop up on the wrong time and crooked numbers are quickly to follow. And Fleetwood had plenty of loose swings a week ago.
Matsuyama got burned by the tough conditions on the weekend as did basically everyone a week ago, but it's his consistency that has be believing he shouldn't be priced as the underdog in this head-to-head matchup.
Matsuyama has a longer sustained level of success here with one missed cut and five finishes inside the Top 23 at TPC Sawgrass throughout his career, and this is a tournament he could very well win. I don't believe I can say the same about Fleetwood in that regard, and with the price offered, it makes this play a rather easy choice.
Bet Now (IN, NJ, PA & WV only)
Odds Subject to Change (T&C's Apply, 21+)