Players Championship 2018: Spieth, Thomas, Day, McIlroy open as co-favorites at TPC Sawgrass
Jason Day rode a hot putter to victory in Charlotte on Sunday. It was his second win of the year, further testament that he's put his nightmarish 2017 in the rearview mirror. A sentiment seconded by the oddsmakers in Vegas, as the 30-year-old opens as one of the co-favorites for the Players Championship.
Although he was a non-factor at TPC Sawgrass last season, Day set the 36-hole tournament scoring record in 2016 on his way to a four-shot victory. If he hopes to replicate those feats, he'll need to improve his second-shot performance, where he ranks 169th in strokes gained/approach. When he won two years ago, the Aussie was ninth in that category for the week. He, along with Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy, are listed at 15-1.
That Spieth finds himself among the top dogs is interesting. TPC Sawgrass has not been kind to the three-time major winner, as Spieth has failed to make the weekend in his last three tries (he did post a T-4 in 2014). However, he does have top-three finishes in his last two individual tournaments, and his tee-to-green execution (1.829, second on tour) is the type of play that's historically correlated to Sawgrass success.
Behind this quartet is World No. 1 Dustin Johnson at 17-1. Johnson has a win and five top 10s in eight events this year, but the Players has been a puzzle he's been unable to solve. In nine appearances DJ has just one top 25 finish, his best standing a backdoor T-12 last spring. Rickie Fowler, the 2015 Players champ, comes in at 21-1, followed by John Rahm (23-1) and Justin Rose (29-1).
Tiger Woods, off a disappointing Sunday at the Wells Fargo Championship, enters at 35-1. This is Woods' first visit to Ponte Vedra Beach since 2015, when he finished T-69. He is a two-time Players winner, his last victory coming in 2013. Woods' playing partner the first two days, Phil Mickelson, also a former Players champ, owns a 34-1 figure.
As for Si Woo Kim? Well, if you're a believer in the defending champ, now's the time to back him, as Kim is going off at 101-1 odds. Though the 22-year-old stumbled following his win last May, he's bounced back nicely in 2018 with four top 10s, including a playoff loss at Harbour Town last month.