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This Weekend’s PGA Tour Event Preview: The Players Championship

PGA Tour Betting and the Players Championship Odds Preview 

The PGA Tour finally hits full steam this week with The Players Championship, the unofficial “fifth major” that was moved back to March last year to kick off the marquee tournament schedule. 

There will be a major event each of the next five months: The Players will be followed by The Masters in April. The PGA Championship will be contested in May, the U.S. Open in June and The Open in July. 

You may have caught one of the 2,000 showings of the commercial with Rory McIlroy claiming his career would not have been complete without winning The Players. And the Northern Irishman returns to TPC Sawgrass as the top-ranked player in the world – and the betting favorite to successfully defend his 2019 title. 

The famed “Florida Swing” kicked off with two weeks of blustery conditions at The Honda Classic and the Arnold Palmer Invitational. It now moves to Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., where the forecast calls for high-70s and excellent conditions most of the week. 

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The Betting Favorite at The Players Championship

McIlroy is the +700 betting favorite by PlaySugarHouse.com and PointsBet. He’s coming off his fifth consecutive top-five finish, although he has yet win in 2020.  

McIlroy suffered yet another letdown while in contention on Sunday at Bay Hill, with his 76 tying for the highest final-round score of anyone who finished in the top 15. It continued a trend that saw McIlroy get beat by four shots on Sunday by Farmers Insurance Open champion Marc Leishman and shoot three shots worse in the final round than Genesis Invitational winner Adam Scott in February. 

He was also unable to reel in Patrick Reed while in contention the following week at the WGC-Mexico Championship. 

Still, it’s impossible to argue that McIlroy isn’t the clear favorite entering The Players. In 23 worldwide starts since then, he has three victories, 11 top-five finishes and 17 top-10s to put a stranglehold on the No. 1 ranking. 

His closest competition is Jon Rahm, who took a three-week break after four consecutive top-20s on the West Coast swing culminating with a T3 in Mexico City. If there’s anyone playing as consistently well as McIlroy over the past year, it’s Rahm. 

The fiery Spaniard has three wins, four runner-ups and three more third-place finishes in 18 worldwide starts dating back to the 2019 U.S. Open. Rahm has a T63 and T12 at The Players the past two years and enters this week at +1000 by PlaySugarHouse.com and +1200 at PointsBet. 

The Likely Contenders and Long Shot Bets for The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass

After those two, the strong field opens up to a wide array of likely contenders. 

South Korea’s Sungjae Im was a few back-nine bogeys on Sunday away from potentially claiming his second consecutive win. As it is, he arrived at TPC Sawgrass with a victory and a solo third in the past three weeks. Im has vaulted to No. 23 in the world and is being offered at +2800 at both books. 

We haven’t seen Justin Thomas since his Sunday implosion from atop the leaderboard in Mexico City. But the world’s fourth-ranked player is the third betting favorite this week at +1600 at PlaySugarHouse.com and +1500 at PointsBet.   

Thomas hasn’t been as consistent as the other three of late with a pair of missed cuts in his past four starts. But no one else can boast a trio of PGA Tour wins to go along with five other top-10s since August. Thomas (+1600, +1500) has a T11 and T35 in the past two Players.  

The fourth betting favorite at both books is Bryson DeChambeau (+1800, +2000). The bulked-up DeChambeau has a T5, runner-up and a solo fourth in his past three starts. However, he hasn’t finished better than T20 at the Players the past two years and enters the week ranked 75th in strokes gained around the greens – always an important statistic at TPC Sawgrass. 

A Trio to Try at The Players Championship Championship and a Dark Horse Pick 

Patrick Cantlay, Hideki Matsuyama and Xander Schauffele are each being offered at +2000 by PlaySugarHouse.com, followed by Tommy Fleetwood and Dustin Johnson at +2500. Meanwhile, PointsBet has Cantlay, Fleetwood and Johnson at +2500, followed by Im, MatsuyamaSchauffele and Webb Simpson at +2800. 

Fleetwood and Johnson tied for fifth last year. Fleetwood is coming off his first missed cut since July of 2018 but has otherwise been in excellent form with six consecutive top-20s until Bay Hill. 

Johnson is another who skipped the first two Florida events. It was probably fortuitous scheduling, as the former No. 1 didn’t need to fine-tune his game in two windmill events while coming off a T32, T10 and T48 stretch in his past three events. 

Cantlay has been out of action even longer, sitting out since The Genesis following surgery to repair a deviated septum. He missed the Players cut last year but is typically hovering around the first page of the leaderboard. In his past nine starts on the PGA Tour, Cantlay has a pair of runner-ups and has only finished outside the top 20 twice. 

Matsuyama remains one of the tougher bets to read on Tour. He’s ranked 21st in the world and has six top-10s since August, including two in 2020, but hasn’t posted a victory in three yearsPerhaps that makes PlaySugarHouse.com’s finishing position bets on Matsuyama more intriguing: +500 for top 5+275 for top 10 and +138 for top 20. 

Looking for a dark horse? 

South Korea’s Sung Kang may be your man. Ranked 52nd in the world, Kang tied for second at The Genesis. Following a 71st in Mexico, he posted a T9 last week despite a third-round 78. He’s being offered at +15000 by both books.