The Players Championship Odds: Quick Picks For PGA Tour Premier Event

Weather could be a major factor this weekend

by

March 9

The Players Championship is upon us, and it’s one of the biggest weeks on the golf betting calendar.

In recent years, especially since the tournament moved (back) to March, the Tour has taken its promotional efforts to new heights for the “gold standard.” Despite the Tour’s best efforts, the Players won’t ever be seen as a major, but it’s still a damn good tournament with a truly elite field on an iconic course.

So, of course we’re going to bet on it. In fact, betting on the Players is a hoot given not only the expanded menu of wagering options but also because of the Tour’s commitment to broadcasting every shot of the tournament online or on-air.

Before getting into this week’s picks, last week was a bit of a struggle. Things looked great as Rory McIlroy jumped out to a first-round lead only to be battered by Bay Hill over the weekend. A pair of 76s on Saturday and Sunday led him to a T-17th finish where he tied with Jon Rahm — our favorite to fade last week.

Let’s also just forget about that Seamus Power first-round leader pick, too. Only one player (Kevin Na) had a worse first round than Power’s 80. But we’re all about accountability here.

Onto this week’s picks for The Players Championship.

Favorite to back: Viktor Hovland +2200
The forecast looks dreadful this weekend for the Jacksonville area with buckets of rain expected to soak Sawgrass. If that’s the case, and they can’t dry the course out, Hovland stands to benefit. His approach game is elite as it is, and a wetter course will allow him to go pin-seeking without the risk of losing it off the green and bringing his sketchy short game into question.

Favorite to fade: Justin Thomas +1000
No one has ever won The Players in back-to-back years, for starters. Thomas hasn’t won since winning here last year, in large part because of a finnicky putter. He’s lost strokes on the green in his last 20 rounds, and when he finally got the flatstick working at the Genesis, his approach game was as bad as it’s been since last year’s U.S. Open.

First-round leader: Billy Horschel +6000
Billy Boy checks plenty of boxes. The Florida native played his college golf for the Gators, so he’s certainly familiar with everything he’ll need to expect this weekend. It looks like he’ll have a slight wave advantage, too, going off in the afternoon, as forecasts are calling for stronger winds in the morning. Only Patrick Cantlay has a better first-round scoring average this season than Horschel, who has finished no worse than 16th in his last four starts. In those four starts, he’s had first-round scores of 67, 68, 67 and 63.

Long shot to watch: Max Homa +8000
There are so many good options in this neighborhood, and players like Tommy Fleetwood, Gary Woodland, Marc Leishman and Jason Kokrak are all worth a punt. Let’s roll with Homa, though, who is playing well since missing the cut at the Farmers. His tee-to-green game has been dialed in, and he’s coming off a week in which he finished fourth in strokes gained approach at the Arnold Palmer but just couldn’t putt. The putter is always an issue, but it’s not like he can’t get hot for a weekend. Two of his three wins have come at really good fields, so he’s always a threat to get hot when taking on the best.

Thumbnail photo via Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports Images

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