The Players Championship is one of the most difficult golf tournaments to handicap.
No matter what you think of its status in the pantheon of championship golf, The Players has one of golf’s deepest fields, and it routinely produces a world-class champion. However, despite TPC Sawgrass’ Players Stadium Course hosting year after year, there seem to be few reliable names that a golf bettor or fantasy player could consider a true horse for this unique course.
There’s Rory McIlroy, who has handled this course well over many of the last several years, but he’s put up some clunker finishes in recent memory.
Jordan Spieth almost won in 2014 at Sawgrass, and he’s pretty much skunked since.
Dustin Johnson should get around this place with ease, but he doesn’t.
Jason Day loves Pete Dye-designed golf courses, but his health is a big question mark this week (and many weeks).
Rookies don’t tend to play Sawgrass well, so you can kind of keep them out of your head.
And then there’s the change back to March after 12 years in May. The golf course has dramatically improved in terms of its conditioning and presentation since it was last played in March back in 2006. However, the Stadium will play much differently two months sooner. The prevailing wind will be in the players’ faces on Nos. 17 and 18. The course will play longer because it’s cooler outside.
However, the rough is short and the course is soft right now, by most accounts.
So what does that all mean? Confusion in the betting market, for one. If you check here for 888 Sports’ betting odds for The Players, you’ll see the favorite is Dustin Johnson — who is typically flustered by this place — at +1200, or 12-to-1, betting odds. Rory McIlroy is next best at 14-to-1, along with Justin Thomas. Typically, a tournament favorite on the PGA Tour is in the high single-digit range, perhaps at +800 or +900.
Tiger Woods, who has a neck injury that could keep him from competing in the tournament altogether, is at 20-to-1, ahead of Justin Rose, who was No. 1 in the world heading into March!
None of this makes much sense, which means this week presents a great opportunity for bettors willing to look at some of the past winners and top 10 players clustered in that +2500 to +4000 range. Bryson DeChambeau is 33-to-1. Jon Rahm, a player that should love this championship, is 30-to-1. Paul Casey, who is on fire, is at 28-to-1 to win outright.
You can get Adam Scott, who has as many top-15s in this championship since 2011 as anyone, at 10-to-1 to finish in the top five.
Keith Mitchell, who just won The Honda Classic and finished in the top 10 at Bay Hill, is 125-to-1.
This is all to say there’s remarkable value this week at The Players, and that means a punter has plenty of opportunity to spread out the bets and still get a great payoff.