In our efforts to help you, our beloved readers, we’ve done a weekly best bets ranking leading into the four major championships the past few years. With the Players Championship back in March, we figured why wait for the Masters? All the game’s best players are expected to be at TPC Sawgrass, and golf fans/gamblers everywhere will be looking for advice making their picks. So again, we’re here to help.
A couple things to be clear about: First, these are our “13 best bets” so it’s not necessarily a list of the 13 players we think are most likely to win. Instead, these are the 13 bets we feel present the best value based on their current odds (in this case, from FanDuel). And second, keep in mind that predicting golf winners is difficult. And at the Players, it’s basically impossible. OK, enough with the excuses. Here’s our ranking. For now.
1. Webb Simpson (27/1)
Reason to pick: Always one of the game’s best iron players, he’s now one of the game’s best putters. He also won wire to wire at TPC Sawgrass in 2018.
Cause for concern: Sorry, we’re really struggling here to find something on a golfer that never seems to have a bad week anymore. And whose odds are four times the favorite. Maybe he’ll get a bad night’s sleep?
2. Jon Rahm (13/1)
Reason to pick: Another guy who lives near the top of leader boards, Rahm did the same through 3½ days at TPC Sawgrass last year.
Cause for concern: That finish, including one of the worst decisions we’ve seen in a long time on the par-5 11th, when he went for the green in two from a fairway bunker (against his caddie’s wishes) only to hit the ball in the water short of the green, was rough. It caused him to fall from the lead to a tie for 12th. But for a guy who might have the best shot at winning, getting 16-to-1 odds is tough to pass up.
3. Adam Scott (22/1)
Reason to pick: He’s BACK! Seriously, like Webb Simpson, Scott has finally figured out how to putt post- anchor ban. The Aussie with the dreamy swing—and dreamier looks—is also a past Players champ.
Cause for concern: We thought Scott had figured out how to putt without anchoring when he notched back-to-back wins in 2016. And it took him nearly four years to win again.
4. Xander Schauffele (22/1)
Reason to pick: This big-game hunter finished runner-up in his first go-round at TPC Sawgrass in 2018.
Cause for concern: He also missed the cut in his second Players start in 2019. Still, of all the World’s top 10, he seems to fetch the fairest odds and 22/1 is no exception.
5. Tommy Fleetwood (33/1)
Reason to pick: After finishing T-41 in his Players debut in 2017, Fleetwood has gone T-7, T-5 the past two years. He's also coming off a close call at the Honda Classic that didn't impact his odds. Well, and a missed cut at Bay Hill that didn't impact his odds, either.
Cause for concern: He is still looking for a first PGA Tour title. Anywhere.
6. Rory McIlroy (7/1)
Reason to pick: He wins or almost wins basically every time he tees it up, including a victory at last year’s Players.
Cause for concern: 7-to-1 odds against a limited field is tough to bet. But against a full field? THIS full field? It’s positively crazy.
7. Dustin Johnson (18/1)
Reason to pick: Johnson hasn’t missed a cut at the Players since his first attempt in 2008, and has his three best finishes (T-17, T-12, and a T-5) the past three years.
Cause for concern: This is not the same golfer who was World No. 1 last year, especially with some woeful final-round performances the past 12 months. And last year’s T-5 is his lone top 10 in 11 previous trips to Ponte Vedra Beach.
8. Matt Kuchar (50/1)
Reason to pick: Outside of Phil Mickelson at 65/1, Kuchar has the worst odds of all previous winners in the field. So yes, this is a bit of a value play around a player who infamously got a little too much value from a deal with a local caddie.
Cause for concern: Outside of that win in 2012 and a T-3 in 2016, Kuchar has never finished in the top 10 at TPC Sawgrass.
9. Justin Thomas (14/1)
Reason to pick: Never missed a cut in five tries, highlighted by a T-3 in 2016.
Cause for concern: After a hot start to the season, Thomas has missed the cut in two of his past three starts.
10. Sungjae Im (33/1)
Reason to pick: A Florida golf course with a lot of water? That sounds familiar. . .
Cause for concern: Even with that terrific sand save to win the Honda Classic for his first PGA Tour title, the 21-year-old ranks 174th in strokes gained: around the green.
11. Rickie Fowler (27/1)
Reason to pick: The honeymoon is over. Literally. After getting married in October, it’s time for Fowler to get serious about golf again and 27-to-1 odds seems pretty fair considering this is the site of his signature win.
Cause for concern: In the nearly five years since that signature win, Fowler has only produced three other official PGA Tour victories.
12. Patrick Reed (33/1)
Reason to pick: With a major, two WGCs, and two FedEx Cup Playoff wins before turning 30, there aren’t too many better big game hunters in the sport. And at 33/1, Reed still isn’t getting the respect of other guys in the top 10 of the Official World Golf Ranking.
Cause for concern: Reed’s best finish in six previous starts at TPC Sawgrass is a T-22 in 2017 so he’s not exactly Captain Stadium Course.
13. Jason Day (33/1)
Reason to pick: One of the best examples of the fickleness of TPC Sawgrass, Day shot 81 to miss the cut in 2015 and then returned in 2016 to tie the course record with an opening 63 on his way to victory. The Aussie has also quietly finished T-5 and T-8 the past two years and has started with 70 or better in seven of the past eight years. You’ll get to at least feel good about your bet for a few hours.
Cause for concern: The former World No. 1 was the game’s dominant force when he won here in 2016, but has only won twice anywhere since. And he just withdrew from Bay Hill with a back injury. . . Again. . .