Players Championship betting guide: 8 picks our gambling expert loves

xander Schauffele of The United States plays his second shot on the first hole during the second round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard at Arnold Palmer Bay Hill Golf Course on March 08, 2024 in Orlando, Florida.

Our expert likes Xander Schauffele's chances this week.

Getty Images

Welcome to our weekly PGA Tour gambling-tips column, featuring picks from’s expert prognosticator Brady Kannon. A seasoned golf bettor and commentator, Kannon is a regular guest on SportsGrid, a syndicated audio network devoted to sports and sport betting. You can follow on Twitter at @LasVegasGolfer, and you can read his picks below for the Players Championship, which gets underway Thursday in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. Along with Kannon’s recommended plays, you’ll also see data from Chirp, a free-to-play mobile platform that features a range of games with enticing prizes, giving fans all kinds of ways to engage in the action without risking any money.

It took 10 PGA Tour tournaments in 2024 season before we finally got a favorite that went on to win. Scottie Scheffler went off at roughly 7-1 before claiming the Arnold Palmer Invitational, winning convincingly by five shots last week at Bay Hill. Prior to that, Jake Knapp at around 40-1 was the shortest-priced winner of the season in his victory at the Mexico Open at Vidanta.

It is no surprise that Scheffler is again a prohibitive favorite this week, currently trading at less than 6-1 to defend his title at the Players Championship. The next choice on the odds board is Rory McIlroy, whose current price is more than double that of Scheffler.

It is the 50th anniversary edition of the Players, taking place at Pete Dye’s masterpiece, TPC Sawgrass, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. Sawgrass is a par 72 and measures just under 7,300 yards. The course features doglegs in both directions, no two consecutive holes that run in the same direction, and water that comes into play on nearly all 18 holes. Famously, the par-3 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass features an island green that most casual golf fans will recognize.

The Players Championship is the PGA Tour’s crown jewel and is often referred to as “the fifth major.” Most of the golf courses on the Tour schedule will allow us to pinpoint a certain type of player that should have success, or skill sets that should flourish on a particular type of layout. But Sawgrass, like most major championship venues, requires a little bit of everything and doesn’t provide many obvious answers. We have seen bombers like Jason Day and Rory McIlroy win here. We have seen shorter hitters like Webb Simpson and Si Woo Kim win too. Favorites, long shots, and everything in between, the Players has produced a wide array of champions. And — bad news for Scottie Scheffler — the tournament has never produced a winner in back-to-back seasons.

Course history doesn’t seem to mean much. Almost every champion here has also missed multiple cuts. Current form does seem to matter, however, as recent winners of the Players have had either a win or a top-5 finish during the season leading up to the event. Of the last 12 winners, Justin Thomas in 2021 was the only player to have finished worse than 22nd in their last prior start.

That being said, I looked at a little bit of everything in the stats this week but ultimately applied emphasis to current form, Strokes Gained: Approach, the short game (Scrambling and SG: Around the Green), and favored Driving Accuracy a bit over Driving Distance.

2024 Players Championship odds: Most recent major winner is our long-shot pick at TPC Sawgrass
By: Kevin Cunningham

There are a number of courses that either set up similarly, have shown crossover success, or are other Pete Dye designs that show correlation to TPC Sawgrass. Maybe the strongest two are Sedgefield, where they play the Wyndham Championship, and Harbour Town, where they hold the RBC Heritage. Others I considered in the handicap are: TPC River Highlands, TPC Potomac, Innisbrook (home of the Valspar Championship), Muirfield Village, Sea Island, and East Lake, home of the Tour Championship.

So, who is going to win the golden anniversary of the Players and pocket $4.5 million? I’ve got eight choices for an outright win and played each of them for a top-20 finish as well.

Xander Schauffele (25-1)

In six starts this season, Schauffele already has four top-10 finishes, so the current form is there despite a relatively pedestrian 25th-place finish last week at Bay Hill. He finished runner-up at TPC Sawgrass in his Players debut and took 19th last year. He has a win at TPC River Highlands, as high as a fourth-place finish at Harbour Town, four top-20 finishes at Muirfield Village and absolutely owns East Lake with a win, three runner-ups, and three additional top-10 finishes at the Tour Championship. Over the last 36 rounds, Schauffele ranks seventh in this field for SG: Approach and Bogey Avoidance, and is third on the par 4s measuring between 450-500 yards.

Max Homa (33-1)

The short game appears to be in form for Homa who, in an eighth-place finish last week in Orlando, ranked fourth in the field for Scrambling, third in SG: Putting, and 18th in SG: Around the Green. He has a win at TPC Potomac, two top-10 finishes at East Lake, a sixth at the Valspar Championship, two top-6 finishes at Muirfield Village, and has taken sixth and 13th here in past appearances at the Players. In addition to the impressive short game work, Homa is also 20th in this field for SG: Off the Tee and sixth in Bogey Avoidance over the last 36 rounds.

Russell Henley (40-1)

The Georgia Bulldog has always been a good putter on Bermudagrass and that showed up in his fourth place finish last week, where he was second in the field for SG: Putting. Over the last 36 rounds, Henley ranks fourth in this field on the correlated courses I used, including four top-10 finishes at Sedgefield and three top-20 finishes at TPC Sawgrass. Interestingly, we have seen Players Championship winners win four of the last eight Sony Opens in Hawaii, and that does not include Henley, who won the Sony in 2013.

Shane Lowry (42-1)

Now a Florida resident, Lowry has always played difficult golf courses well and has flourished in the Florida Swing. Just this season, he finished fourth three weeks ago at the Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches and followed that up with a third-place finish last week. He’s finished 13th, 16th, and eighth here in Ponte Vedra Beach and was fourth at the PGA Championship in 2021 at Kiawah Island, another Pete Dye design. He has a top-10 at Sedgefield, three top-16 finishes at Muirfield, and two third-place finishes at Harbour Town to go along with a ninth-place finish in 2021. He seems to have an affinity for Dye designs as he ranks fourth in this field for SG: Tee to Green on Pete Dye courses over the last 36 rounds.

Shane Lowry and his caddie Darren Reynolds during the third round of the 2024 Cognizant Classic. Getty Images

Adam Hadwin (80-1)

I mentioned the volatility of TPC Sawgrass and the mixed results most players have at this championship. Hadwin is one of the outliers who has been somewhat consistent in finding success here. In eight prior visits, he’s only missed the cut twice. His last three trips have resulted in 13th, ninth, and 29th place finishes. His only Tour win came at the Valspar Championship and his current form looks good with two top-6 finishes in his last five starts this season.

Brendon Todd (100-1)

Todd has missed the cut here at the Players Championship twice in five tries but his best finish was last year, tying for 27th. He has a number of top-10, top-15, and top-25 finishes at the correlated courses and comes into this week off of a sixth-place finish at Bay Hill where he led the field in SG: Putting, Scrambling, and was third in SG: Around the Green. Todd ranks 22nd on Tour in Driving Accuracy.

Alex Noren (125-1)

Like Todd, Noren is another player who relies on his excellent short game, but that wasn’t the only part of his game that was firing three weeks ago in Palm Beach Gardens, where he finished ninth at the Cognizant Classic. He ranked in the top-38 in the field for Scrambling, Putting, and Around the Green but also ranked sixth for SG: Approach and Greens in Regulation. His record at TPC Sawgrass is pretty typical for a player that seems to fit the course. In six tries, he’s missed the cut three times and finished 10th, 17th, and 26th the other three times. Over the last 36 rounds, Noren is second in this field for Bogey Avoidance and 11th on the Par 4s of 450-500 yards.

Andrew Putnam (125-1)

It isn’t often I land on a player who has never made a cut at a particular tournament but that is the case here with Putnam, who is 0-for-4 in trying to make the cut at the Players. He has only missed one cut this season however, in seven starts, and twice has finished top-10 with a 10th-place finish at the Sony Open and an eighth-place finish last week at Bay Hill. The numbers make sense though. Over the last 36 rounds, Putnam is 11th in this field for SG: Putting, 36th on approach, ninth for Scrambling, fifth in Bogey Avoidance, 21st on the Par 4s of 450-500 yards, and he ranks 26th on Tour in Driving Accuracy. By Players Championship standards, he’s due to win this week! Maybe — but we’ll gladly take another top-20 finish.

Who Chirp users like this week

Chirp user favorites for the Players Championship. Chirp

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