The Players Championship: Betting Analysis, Predictions, & Picks

It’s PLAYERS week. I can’t believe it’s been a year since the golf world (and the entire world) shut down. It feels like an anniversary, and it’s pretty ironic that Danny Willet had to WD due to a positive COVID-19 test.

But, this year, it should happen. I emphasize SHOULD. But this week is always one of the best of the season. So let’s jump into it.


48 of the top 50 players in the world return to TPC Sawgrass this week, missing is Tiger Woods, and recent WD Brooks Koepka due to a right knee injury. Rory McIlroy returns as the defending champion after falling out of the Top 10 in the World for the first time since 2018. The last time this happened, was at the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational, he would go on to win that week.

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson will look to add to his trophy case, but his most recent start wasn’t a great one, struggling down in Bradenton, FL at the WGC where he placed T54 in a small field. World No. 2 Jon Rahm also struggled at Concession, so we will have to wait and see if they’ve turned it around in the week they had off.

I would include a “other big names in the field” section, but everyone’s here, like everyone, so let’s move on.


TPC Sawgrass

Par 72

Around 7,200 yards

Pete Dye Design

Smaller then average green complexes, which can now be controlled by a sub-air system put into place back in 2006. So this place will play firm, fast, in pretty much any weather conditions.


Key Stats

What makes TPC Sawgrass such an interesting course, is that any type of golfer can win here. Bombers can’t fully take advantage of their length around this place, and the real emphasis is put on accuracy in the iron game. With small greens, accompanied by tricky approach positions, guys who have their irons dialed in will contend around this place.

Recent form is also something to stress this week. Since KJ Choi’s win in 2011, 5 champions of the PLAYERS had a Top 10 finish in their most recent start coming into Sawgrass, and all of them finished inside the Top 25.

Data Golf

Course Fit: 1. Sherwood CC, 2. Sea Island GC, 3. TPC Twin Cities

Trending (of the players in the field): 1. Tony Finau (Last 3 stats: T2, 2, 14), 2. Paul Casey (T12, T5, T10), 3. Patrick Cantlay (2, T3, T15)

% Chance to Win (Baseline, Course History and Fit): 1. Jon Rahm (6.5%), 2. Dustin Johnson (3.7%), 3. Xander Schauffele (3.3%)

Betting Odds

Twilight 9 Card

Top 40 – Max Homa (+164)

Yes, Max, again. All our guy does is make us money, so we’re going right back to him. He back-doored a Top 10 at the Arnold Palmer, hitting our +150 Top 30 bet over the weekend. Still crazy to me that he isn’t being valued by Vegas yet. The only thing that makes me nervous about going to Max again this week, is his lack of experience at TPC Sawgrass. He’s never played here (well, professionally, I don’t know what he does with his free time). His iron play struggled a bit at Bay Hill, chalk that up to tough conditions on the weekend, but he was 1st in SG: Putting, which is always nice to see. He was also 10th SG Off the Tee, so if his irons come back to his standard spot, I love Max again at the PLAYERS.

Top 30 – Tommy Fleetwood (+138)

Going back to the best hair on the PGA TOUR. He struggled at the WGC, but last week at the Arnold Palmer was a great sign for Tommy. He had a rough final round of 77, but he was still able to finish inside the Top 10. His ball-striking was better, ranking 7th in SG: Approach. Since 2013, Fleetwood is 3rd in SG: Tee to Green per round at TPC Sawgrass (12+ rounds). He’s 2nd in most strokes gained total per round at The PLAYERS since 2015 (min 12 rounds). Past finishes include a T5 in 2019 and T7 in 2018. So, he likes this place. I could see him having a better week than a Top 30, but it’s hard to pass up the value he gets in this spot.

Top 30 – Adam Scott (+164)

Another guy that just loves this golf course. He’s first in most SG total per round at the Players since 2015 (min. 12 rounds). He’s 4th in most strokes gained tee to green per round at TPC Sawgrass since 2013 (12+ rounds). He won the championship back in 2004. His form coming into the week isn’t great, with just 1 Top 20 finish since the US Open (T10 at the Farmers). But he’s proved he can use this course as a bounce back. In 2018, his 2 starts leading up the PLAYERS were a MC and T76. I don’t have him winning, but this value for a guy that performs well here annually is too good to pass up.

Top 20 – Collin Morikawa (+125)

I stressed iron play earlier, which is why we have to bring up this guy. Collin Morikawa. He’s lead the field in SG: Approach in his last 2 appearances, and is 1st on TOUR this season (by a lot). The last time we saw him, he was lifting the WGC Concession trophy after putting on a ball-striking clinic. He’s never played a full PLAYERS, but last year in the opening round he shot -4. Despite his recent win, you can still grab this kind of value for Collin.

Top 30 – Jason Day (+138)

He was T31 at the API, but that can be put on a 79 on Sunday which dropped him 20 places down the leaderboard. Before that, he had a Top 10 at Pebble, and a Top 20 at Concession. He’s a past winner of this event (2016), and finished T8 at the last playing in 2019. Add a T5 back in 2018, and it’s starting to look like a great week is coming for the Aussie. Again, I’m unsure about his chances of winning the thing, but with 2 straight Top 10s, and a decent last month, I love a Top 30 for JDay.

Top 20 – Justin Thomas (+125)

This man might be my pick to win. I always try to jump on the JT when his value goes up, and this is that week – +2000 to win on DraftKings. Last year he stated how much he loves this place, and good vibes can go a long way. Driving it well this week will be important for JT. When he gains strokes with the driver at TPC Sawgrass, he has a 69.9 scoring average. When he loses strokes, he has a 72.5 scoring average. Last time we saw him, he ranked last in SG: Off the Tee at Concession. That same week, he was 2nd to Collin Morikawa in SG: Approach, losing by just .01 and finished T15. Since 2015, JT has made more birdies or better than any other player at the PLAYERS, but is also tied for second most bogeys or worse. He’ll need to be sharp with the driver, but with his irons in such a great spot, I love Justin this week. T11 in 2018, T5 in 2016.

Value Picks

Top 20 After Round 1 – Hideki Matsuyama (+275)

Wouldn’t be right to leave him off the card after what he did to TPC Sawgrass last year, shooting a 63 on Thursday before the world went dark. Ranked 20th last week in SG: Tee to Green, ranks 20th in the same category on TOUR this season. His last start was a T18 at Bay Hill, which fits into our “must be in good form” theory about the PLAYERS. Past finishes include: T8 in 2019, T22 in 2017, T7 in 2016, T17 in 2015.

Cover via (Getty Images)

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