This tournament is commonly known as the ‘Fifth Major’ and whatever your viewpoint may be on that, we can always guarantee a strong field at The Players Championship. We’ve seen the withdrawal of Bryson DeChambeau for the second week in succession for this 2022 renewal but he is the only notable absentee from the world’s top ten.
Last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, we came so close to an outright win as Victor Hovland finished just one stroke behind eventual champion Scottie Scheffler. We did, however, claim another top 10 finish return thanks to Sam Burns. So let’s see if we can build on that as we head to the iconic Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass for this week’s big tournie preview with predictions and betting picks.
Many high-ranked golfers return to the PGA Tour this week and we have a three-way tie at the top of the outright winner markets. Jon Rahm, Collin Morikawa and Justin Thomas can all be found at best industry odds of 14/1.
Thomas arrives as the defending champion having claimed this event by just one stroke from Lee Westwood twelve months ago. That was, however, JT’s last win on any Tour and that’s a lengthy drought by his own high standards.
British Open Champion Morikawa heads the Power Rankings this week. He is back in form with a tie for second on his previous start and has good relevant stats as he leads the Tour in Adjusted Scoring and Par-4 Scoring.
As for Jon Rahm, he’s been one of the most active players on the circuit. He’s yet to miss a cut in six starts in 2022 and has finished inside the top three twice.
Behind the three joint favorites, there is a gap to 2019 Players Champion Rory McIlroy who slots in at a top price of 18/1. There was no tournament in 2020 so Rory is the most recent champion after Justin Thomas. Two years ago, the Northern Irishman held off Jim Furyk by just one stroke but his defense in 2021 saw him miss the cut by ten shots.
Next up at 20/1 is Viktor Hovland who claimed that second-place finish on Sunday. Hovland has four top five finishes, including a win, in his last five starts. Moving through this section, Patrick Cantlay and Scottie Scheffler can both be found at 22/1, followed by Xander Schauffele and Daniel Berger at a general 25/1. Schauffele is a name that usually interests us, even though his inconsistency is reflected in his performances at the Players Championship. Having finished as runner up on debut in 2018, he has missed the cut in two subsequent appearances.
Scheffler is clearly the form golfer with two wins in recent weeks. Victory on Sunday suggests he is ready for a shot at the Majors in 2022 and the TPC could be a productive warm up for the Masters. Other names to mention from within this ‘middle of the betting lines’ group of players include Hideki Matsuyama at 28/1, Cameron Smith at 30/1 and Dustin Johnson at 30/1.
The longer shots with the United States’ oddsmakers are led this week by Matt Fitzpatrick and Brooks Koepka, who are both quoted at best odds of 40/1. Fitzpatrick finished in a tie for ninth here last year and his top 10 finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Sunday was his fourth in a row. Koepka’s form is less consistent but there have been signs that he may be getting back to his major-winning best.
Further down, a name that interests us is Shane Lowry who is available at a top price of 45/1. The former Open Champion is in solid touch and finished eighth here a year ago. Also in the outside bunch are Jordan Spieth at 45/1, Will Zalatoris at 50/1, Tyrrell Hatton at 50/1 and Sam Burns at 50/1. All four have been in contention for wins on Tour since the start of the new season.
There is always great depth to the quality of a Players Championship field and that is underlined as we conclude our own list of potential outside winners. Other names to consider here include Talor Gooch at 66/1, Gary Woodland at 70/1, Max Homa at 75/1, Webb Simpson at 80/1 and Tommy Fleetwood at 80/1.
Our Preview’s 2022 Players Championship Course Trends, Betting Predictions & Concluding Picks
With its island green at the dramatic 17th hole, TPC Sawgrass is a familiar site for regular golf fans. In terms of mere dimensions, it is a par 72 at a fraction over 7,200 yards but the obstacles here are far greater than we’ll see at most Tour venues.
The green at 17 can ruin any challenge and pinpoint accuracy is needed from the tee. Water can play a part elsewhere and is in the player’s eyeline on every hole. Greens are expected to run up to 13 on the Stimpmeter and it can often come down to a battle with the putters.
Accuracy is the key statistic here and that is one of the reasons we are going to get behind Xander Schauffele. There is that inconsistency to his game but, if he’s switched on, he has the game to succeed on this testing course.
The top 10 finish market’s betting lines are up early for a tournament of this magnitude so there are three additional suggestions which will aim for a prosperous four days down in Florida. These are the betting predictions and picks for this Players Championship preview:
- Xander Schauffele to win at +3000 (30/1) with Bovada or BetOnline.
- Top 10 Finish Picks (best odds in brackets): Schauffele (+320 BetOnline), Dustin Johnson (+375 BetOnline), Shane Lowry (+425 BetOnline) and Sam Burns (+450 EveryGame, BetOnline).
Matt Harris is a golf and soccer expert for USA Betting. His other area of specialist knowledge is cricket. He is well known in sports journalism and contributes articles to a plethora of big-name websites and media outlets. Titles that he writes or has written for include: Betfair, BetVictor, Unibet & Just Bookies.