The PGA Tour sure puts its money where its mouth is when it comes to The Players Championship.
The Tour’s top event is here, and the purse alone should tell you this is a massive week for the world’s best players. The highly anticipated TPC Sawgrass event carries a $20 million purse this year, the highest of any non-playoff event on the entire calendar. That includes a cool $3.6 million for whoever walks away with the trophy.
Trying to pinpoint a winner is easier said than done, though, with a truly elite field taking on the iconic course. The potential for inclement weather slightly complicates the calculus, too, but we’ve done our best to power-rank the star-studded field.
We tried our best to not just go off the world rankings or betting odds, but the cream almost always rises to the top. Here are our top 12 for this weekend’s Players Championship.
(Betting odds via DraftKings Sportsbook)
12. Adam Scott (+3000)
Best Players finish: win in 2004
Regardless of whether you believe in course history here, Scott’s track record at Sawgrass is very good with six top-12 finishes, including the win in 2004. The back nine at Bay Hill beat him up (10-over Friday through Sunday) and ruined his weekend, but don’t run away from him yet.
11. Xander Schauffele (+2500)
Best Players finish: 2nd in 2018
Schauffele is a wonderful player, so he has to make the list, and his performances in majors — nine top-10 finishes in 19 starts — shows he plays well in loaded fields. However, he hasn’t won since the beginning of 2019.
10. Cameron Smith (+3000)
Best Players finish: 17th in 2021
We’re bullish on the Aussies this week, with Marc Leishman just missing the cut for this list, too. Smith has bullied the Par 5s lately, and he’s found something on these greens, gaining more than eight strokes putting the last two trips to Sawgrass.
9. Hideki Matsuyama (+2500)
Best Players finish: 7th in 2016
Don’t forget: He led after the first round in 2020 before COVID-19 wiped out the tournament. His elite tee-to-green play has made up for the shaky putter dating all the way back to last spring’s Masters win.
8. Viktor Hovland (+2200)
Best Players finish: missed cut in 2021
He has a fourth- and a second-place finish in his last two starts at the Genesis and Arnold Palmer. If and when he learns to finish, look out.
7. Daniel Berger (+3000)
Best Players finish: 9th, twice
This is probably a slightly bullish read on Berger, but he has been sensational on approach for more than a year save for a hiccup at Phoenix last month. He also doesn’t seem like the type who’s going to let his collapse at Honda, where he held the 54-hole lead, hold him back.
6. Justin Thomas (+1000)
Best Players finish: win in 2021
The defending champion hasn’t quite put it all together yet this year but has still managed three top-10 finishes in four 2022 starts. It’s a matter of time before he picks a course apart, and good mojo at Sawgrass could make this the week.
5. Rory McIlroy (+1600)
Best Players finish: win in 2019
He’s hard to get a read on right now after a brilliant opening round at Bay Hill before fading into the weekend. But he plays extremely well here, and we know what Rory can do on a water-logged course.
4. Patrick Cantlay (+2000)
Best Players finish: 22nd in 2017
He devours Par 5s and has been on a crazy run dating back to the playoffs. Before his 33rd-place finish at Genesis, Cantlay had five top-5 finishes in six starts.
3. Scottie Scheffler (+2000)
Best Players finish: missed cut in 2021
Of course the model loves him — Scheffler has wins in two of his last three starts and finished seventh at the Genesis in another loaded field. Another win is improbable, but it’s hard to bet against him right now.
2. Collin Morikawa (+1600)
Best Players finish: 41st in 2021
It all comes down to the putter. In the eight tournaments he’s gained two or more strokes on the green, Morikawa has finished in the top two (!) in seven of those starts. Morikawa, it’s worth noting, has gained strokes putting in each of his last three starts where SG putting stats were monitored.
1. Jon Rahm (+1000)
Best Players finish: 9th in 2021
Putting the best player in the world with the shortest odds at No. 1 is the definition of chalk. Even though he’s been horrendous with the putter recently, he has managed to finish no worse than 21st in 2022. A purely average week with the flat stick will have him back in contention for a win.
Strokes gained data via Fantasy National Golf