Having been curtailed after 2020’s first round, it’s great to see the Players Championship back on the schedules. Generally referred to as the fifth Major, its unofficial title is fully deserved and it is fitting that it should return just as fans are trickling back into golf.
Its status means that we always see a strong field and that’s no exception in 2021 with a declaration headed by the world’s number one.
Last time out at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, two of our three top 10 finish tips delivered with Jordan Spieth and Paul Casey providing the profits. Let’s see if we can build on that run at TPC Sawgrass with our Players Championship predictions for this preview.
Dustin Johnson is in the field and the world number one heads the market at an industry best of 12/1. DJ has the form but he has not got a great record at this event with a best finish of a tied fifth place in 2019. That is his best return in 11 visits to the Players Championship and it is the only concern in regards to the market leader.
Sunday’s winner of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Bryson DeChambeau, is also quoted at 12/1 in places but can be found elsewhere at a best of 14/1. The Scientist won by a single stroke from Lee Westwood and his power hitting from the tee could find innovative ways to deal with the iconic TPC Sawgrass.
It’s tight at the top of the betting market this week and the chasers are led by three golfers who can be found at 16/1. Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas are all available at that figure and each of them will attract support.
With the 2020 edition of the Players Championship curtailed after one round, Rory is our defending champion having beaten Jim Furyk by one shot in 2019. He is in consistent good touch without really threatening to get over the line right now. Justin Thomas’ best finish is a tie for third in 2016 while Jon Rahm led the field after 54 holes in 2019 before fading badly on the final day.
Just behind at a general 18/1 is Xander Schauffele who heads the Power Rankings with some good relevant stats. Xander tied for second behind Webb Simpson here in 2018 and a run of 23 made cuts suggests he will be in contention on the final day once again.
Moving through the pack, Patrick Cantlay, Collin Morikawa, Webb Simpson and Viktor Hovland are all listed at 22/1 in places. As stated in this Players Championship preview, Simpson is a former champion in this tournament and his 2018 victory came by the significant margin of four strokes.
Morikawa is a name that certainly interests us as a Major champion and a recent winner on Tour but he is making his debut in this event. Also included in the chasing bunch are Tony Finau and Jordan Spieth who are both quoted at 25/1.
With such a strong field there is scope for outside value and that strength is underlined by the fact that Daniel Berger and Patrick Reed are all the way out at 40/1. We followed Reed at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week but he is clearly just lacking a bit of consistency at the moment.
Other players who could emerge from the outside pack to lift the Players Championship include Matthew Fitzpatrick and Cameron Smith, each at 55/1. Both men have been hovering around the top 10 finishes recently as has an old favorite of ours, Paul Casey, who is at similar odds.
Elsewhere, bettors may want to consider Will Zalatoris at 70/1, Louis Oosthuizen at 70/1, Corey Conners at 80/1 and Sergio Garcia at 80/1. It is one of the strongest fields we’ve seen for a while but what will it take to get over the line?
Our Preview’s Players Championship Course & Betting Trends with Predictions & Picks Verdict
The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass has been home to this event since 1982 and it contains some of the most iconic holes in world golf. The basic dimensions show that it is a relatively modest par 72 at just under 7,200 yards but there is danger everywhere. The Island Green on the 17th is its signature hole but the water that surrounds it is very much in play elsewhere. Risk and Reward is a common theme and that will appeal to golfers such as Bryson DeChambeau.
When Rory McIlroy won here in 2019, he ranked highly in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee, Par 3 scoring, Greens in Regulation and Proximity to the hole. That’s a common set of stats and it suggests that the power hitters won’t have it all their own way.
As for our tournament winner, this Players preview is looking at Jon Rahm who is a strong all-rounder. A lack of consistency is a common theme in our outright picks, many of whom have gone on to win in subsequent weeks when we haven’t backed them. It’s an issue with Rahm right now but the world number two can deliver if he’s on song from Thursday.
Some great scenery in perfect weather will provide the backdrop for a thrilling four days and USA Betting will look to these four picks to deliver the profits.
- The first of our Players Championship predictions is for Jon Rahm to win @ best odds of +1600 (16/1) with Bovada.
- As well as Rahm (+185), also take Webb Simpson (+250) Jordan Spieth (+350) and Cameron Smith (+550) for top 10 finishes and all those odds are with 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.