Often referred to as the fifth Major, there’s only one place to be this week as we stay on the PGA Tour and preview the 2018 edition of the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.
The event has the feel of a Major tournament too with most of the world’s best golfers returning to give us the strongest field since the Masters last month and at the top of the betting lines is our most recent winner.
It’s been a long battle back to form and fitness for Jason Day and the former World Number One was a popular winner at the weekend, taking out the Wells Fargo Championship by two clear shots. The Australian is now favourite for the Players Championship although most USA online betting sites have him locked at the same price with Rory McIlroy at +1400 (14/1), as they are with Bovada Sportsbook.
Day is also a former champion having taken the title at the height of his powers two years ago and he heads the Tour in terms of strokes gained which could be a key stat this week. Rory has three Top 10 finishes here since 2013 but form is mixed so Jason Day could be the better pick.
Slightly further back from the two favorites are Dustin Johnson, Justin Spieth and Justin Thomas (all around 15/1 or 16/1) before Rickie Fowler appears at +1800. Now we can see just what a strong field we have at Sawgrass and how tough it may be to find our winner.
Johnson remains World Number One and started 2018 strongly so he is only marginally down the betting odds because of a period of inactivity. He features outside of the Top 10 in this week’s Power Rankings but that number one status is on the line and that could inspire DJ over the next four days.
Rickie Fowler is the only former winner in the chasing pack, having claimed the Players Championship in 2015 but clearly any of those four names could be on the trophy this week, although they will need to hit peak form in this strong field.
Other players in mid-price range include World Number Three Jon Rahm (+2200) and Justin Rose (+3000) before we move into more distant prices.
We have made consistent profits over the years by backing England’s Paul Casey (+3300 for outright winner) in the Top 10 markets and he did it again with a single digit finish at the Wells Fargo Championship on Sunday. Casey claimed the Valspar Championship earlier this year so shouldn’t be ruled out as a likely winner of this Players Championship. He is certainly a pick for the Top 10 betting, which Bovada always provides.
Casey heads the outside prices but there is a clutch of World Class golfers just behind him who would be much shorter in a smaller tournament. We have current Masters Champion Patrick Reed, plus Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia (all circa +3500) who were champions here in 2007 and 2008 respectively. The two-time Players Championship winner Tiger Woods (+3300), who has been hinting at a comeback Tour win, will get plenty of support in the outright Players Championship odds this week.
Moving into the distance we have the in-form Bryson DeChambeau (+4000), defending champion Si Woo Kim (+7500) and Ian Poulter (+6600), who has a good record at this event. There are just too many to mention so we will narrow down this Players Championship predictions and make our picks for this preview.
Our Preview’s Players Championship Picks, Betting Predictions & Course Trends
This is the 45th edition of the Players Championship and while that 1974 opener, won by Jack Nicklaus, was held at the Atlanta Country Club in Georgia, we have been at the iconic TPC Sawgrass since 1982.
This a par 72 course at 7,189 yards and it features some of the most recognisable holes in golf including the 17th with its treacherous Island Green. Water is a common hazard here while the small, fast greens provide further challenges for anyone out of form with the flatstick. Absolute precision is usually key from tee to green and inaccuracy is routinely punished.
Multiple winners are relatively uncommon with Nicklaus our only three-time champion and Woods the last to complete a double in 2013, so the betting trends aren’t with our co-favourite Jason Day.
This week our Players Championship preview is opting for Dustin Johnson as the prediction. He has drifted to generous odds due to a spell away from the course. His world ranking is on the line and that could lift his game to early 2017 levels. DJ for the win is the main bet with some Top 10 picks that will hopefully lead to a nice overall profit: