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The PGA Tour returns to TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL for The PLAYERS Championship. The famous 7,275 yard Pete Dye design is among the most famous golf courses in the world and is known for hosting “the strongest field in golf” for what has been labeled Golf’s 5th Major Championship. Defending champion Cameron Smith is unfortunately not returning to this year’s field, which in some ways makes Justin Thomas (+1900) our defending champion this year considering he won the event in 2021. Other top contenders by listed odds are Rory McIlroy (+950), Scottie Scheffler (+1000), Jon Rahm (+1100) and Patrick Cantlay (+1600).
Viktor Hovland (+2700) – Hovland seemed like he was going to be in contention coming down the back 9 on Sunday, but a few costly bogeys at the wrong times had the rest of the field separate themselves as Viktor finished T10. He spoke in his press conference yesterday about the confidence he’s gained over the last several weeks and how it frees him up mentally to hit certain golf shots. He’s playing at a higher level than even his finishes are showing, which are impressive in their own right. Coming off a T9 finish last season, Hovland is my favorite pick to win this week at 27-1.
Jason Day (+2800) – 28-1 is a price we haven’t seen for Jason Day in quite some time. But we get it for one of the strongest fields in golf? In 5 starts since the new year, Day has 4 (!!!) top 10 finishes and his lowest finish this year is T17. The former world number 1 has certainly figured some things out and seems destined for a win. He won The Players back in 2016 by 4 shots, so winning on this track is something he’s familiar with. Although the price isn’t ideal, don’t be without a Jason Day ticket this week.
Tommy Fleetwood (+8500) – Hasn’t been super active this season with only 5 starts, 2 of which came before the new year. But Fleetwood had an impressive showing at the CJ Cup which was a similar field in terms of star power, finishing T4 and an impressive track record at TPC Sawgrass. Two Top 10’s since 2017 and making 4/5 cuts in the same timespan. 85-1 is worth a sprinkle.
Sahith Theegala (+9000) – Theegala has been outstanding again this year in his 2nd season on the PGA Tour, as he’s coming off a T14 finish at API that followed his T6 finish at Riviera. He missed the cut in his first start at TPC Sawgrass as a rookie last year. However, he missed the cut as a rookie at Bay Hill and followed it up with a T14 finish last week. Look for Theegala to make a run in his return to TPC Sawgrass.
Top 5 Finishes
Scottie Scheffler (+240) – Not often the Tour visits a course that Scottie doesn’t have a great track record at, but here we are. Only made two starts here and missed the cut in 2021. Finished an underwhelming T55 last year. But Scottie is on another planet, again, and should have no problem keeping track on the leader to secure a Top 5 finish.
Justin Thomas (+500) – The 2021 Players Champion looked great at Bay Hill until a rough Sunday. But JT seems to be in the hunt on Friday/Saturday every week and he’s certainly due for a win. I’m not sure that win comes this week but I do think he’s got the advantage in the experience department over a lot of top guys this week. 5-1 too good of a price.
Rickie Fowler (+1200) – Similar to Jason Day, Rickie has clearly shown a new (or old) version of himself this season. Doesn’t have an excellent track record here as of late, but won the event in 2015 with an all-time shot on the 17th green in a playoff. With Rickie clicking on all cylinders lately, winning this event again is not out of the question.
Top 10 Finishes
Will Zalatoris (+320) – After an excellent showing at Riv a few weeks back, Zalatoris struggled at Bay Hill last week. However, in his first two starts at TPC Sawgrass, Will has a T21 and T26 finish. Considering the track and the event, those are impressive finishes for your first two appearances. With precision being the biggest key here, Zalatoris should be able to navigate his way around this track without major issues.
Sungjae Im (+350) – Sungjae has been terrific this season EVERYWHERE but the greens. His ball striking alone should give him a chance to compete this week. But, if the putter gets hot… he’ll be in the hunt on Sunday. Best finish was in 2021 where he came in T17.
Tommy Fleetwood (+750) – Again – just a value play. 7 1/2-1 for Fleetwood to do something he’s done twice in 5 years? Yes please. Favorite play on the board this week.
Top 20 Finishes
Keegan Bradley (+210) – Another impressive outing for Keegs last week at Bay Hill, finishing T10 to add to an already impressive season. He has a great track record at TPC Sawgrass and is playing well, so he gets the nod for max play this week.
Ben Griffin (+600) – Griffin has been awesome this year – making 11/13 cuts and finishing in the Top 25 an impressive 6 times. Experts warn against taking a player on their first trip to TPC Sawgrass, but not me.
Sepp Straka (+700) – Sepp Straka is entering Sahith Theegala territory in terms of being on one of my bet slips every single week. The most inconsistent guy on the PGA Tour that for some reason turns into a killer in big events. T9 last year in his second start at TPC Sawgrass.