Buckle up because it’s going to get wild over the next five months on the PGA Tour.
With the four majors coming up, one per month starting with the Masters in April, the Tour will see the brightest stars hunting down major titles.
But first, we’ve got this week’s tournament, The Players Championship. Now some call this tournament the fifth major but that’s for a conversation over a beer or two.
What this event does provide players is one of the toughest challenges on the PGA Tour. The tournament is played at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, a Pete Dye design.
The Players title is one that golfers really want to put on their resume. It may not be a major (we’re taking that side of the debate), but don’t tell that to the players who have come oh so close to winning here.
Odds To Win The Players Championship (BetMGM)
Jon Rahm +1200
Justin Thomas +1200
Collin Morikawa +1400
Rory McIlroy +1800
Viktor Hovland +1800
Patrick Cantlay +2000
Scottie Scheffler +2200
Daniel Berger +2800
Hideki Matsuyama +2800
As always, shop around the betting market for the best odds for your plays.
This Is One Tournament Not To Miss
Looking up and down the field for The Players, it’s easy to see why players put this one on their schedule: It’s the party no one wants to miss.
Start with world No. 1 Jon Rahm and keep going down the list. It’s that important of a tournament. In all, there are 48 of the top 50 in the world rankings teeing it up this week.
In case you’ve forgotten, this is the course–and one hole in particular–that brings out the best and worst in players.
Let’s get one fact out of the way quickly: The 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass should be an easy par with an occasional birdie thrown in.
It’s not. In fact, it’s 137 yards of sheer terror. That’s right, a simple wedge shot (whether it’s a gap wedge, sand wedge or pitching wedge) to a green with a bunker guarding the front.
Sounds easy enough, right? Well, add in the fact it’s an island green and that ramps up the pressure a notch or two.
Those in the know estimate some 100,000-120,000 golf balls find a watery grave every year. Granted, that’s your everyday golfers and not the PGA Tour players.
But these Tour guys have had more than their share of failures on this hole. The most difficult year came when the event moved to this course back in 2007. Starting with the first round (50 in the water), there ended up being a total of 93 golf balls that found the pond over four days.
Remember those numbers Sunday when the lead groups get to the island green.
Time For The Big Guns To Shine
With this much firepower in the field, we’re going to have to look closely at momentum. Players coming in with mid-pack finishes in recent events won’t cut it here.
Those with strong finishes are on our radar. We’ll start with the defending champion, Justin Thomas at +1200.
He’s one of the favorites, along with Jon Rahm, so to get a price like +1200 shows just how deep the field is this week.
Thomas was near the top of the leaderboard for most of the tournament but then caught fire midway through the final round. He played a four-hole stretch five under par (an eagle and three birdies) to edge Lee Westwood by a stroke.
Thomas has been playing above-average golf this year, but he doesn’t have a win yet. In his last six starts, Thomas has five top-10 finishes including a third, a sixth and two T-8s.
He hasn’t teed it up since a sixth-place finish in late February at The Genesis, so he’s going to have a little more rest coming into this event.
The good news is Thomas won last year. The bad news is there’s never been a repeat champion at The Players. But, there’s a first time for everything…or so they say. If you like JT to repeat, FanDuel was dealing him at +1300 as of Tuesday morning.
One Rising PGA Tour Star Still Under The Radar
For some reason, Viktor Hovland, fourth in the world golf rankings, still isn’t in most conversations when it comes to standout players.
We’re not sure why.
But that changes this week. Hovland, at +1800, is a great value and has been solid in the wraparound season.
He’s won twice this season–in back-to-back events to make it that much more impressive–and he’s coming off a T-2 last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Last week was a great one for Hovland, except for the time he spent in bunkers. He holed out for an eagle early in the final round but was 0-for-5 the rest of the day. If he converts one or two of those, we’re having a different conversation this week.
Hovland’s coming into this event as hot as Thomas, as he’s won two of his last six starts. He also has a T-2 in that time (last week) and a T-4. His confidence has to be sky-high coming into this week.
So, if you don’t have Hovland on your list of top-10 players to watch every week, better take out an eraser and get rid of someone on the list and add him in ink. He’s going to be there for a while.
Billy Horschel’s A Live Longshot To Consider
For our third pick, check out Billy Horschel. While BetMGM had Horschel at +4000, you could find him at +5500 at DraftKings as of Tuesday morning.
He’s a Florida boy who hasn’t won a PGA Tour event in Florida during his career. He came so close last week and was right there at the Arnold Palmer Invitational where he wound up T-2.
Prior to this past week, his best finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational was a T-13 and that came in the 2017 event.
Horschel’s game has been solid and he’s making fewer errors every time out. He’s ranked No. 15 in the world golf rankings, the highest ranking he’s ever achieved.
There’s no doubt he’s on a hot streak, and he’d like to keep climbing in the rankings.
Editor’s note: Gaming Today golf analyst Bill Bowman correctly predicted Scottie Scheffler as the winner of last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational. He also cashed tickets on three prop bets. We’ll have his prop bet picks for The Players up later today.
Also read: Masters Odds 2022