Players Championship picks to win: Here’s who our staff is betting on
Go find those $20, $50 or, gulp, $100 bills from last year. Your money is still good here.
Last March, as you remember, the Players Championship was canceled after one round due to the pandemic. Your betting was canceled, too. No second-, third- or final-round picks, no head-to-heads, no props. Nothing.
Starting Thursday, as the Players plays again, you, the gambler, gambles again.
We’re here to help. Eleven members of our staff have made three picks — to win, top 10 and a prop bet of choice — using odds from the DraftKings website. Our primary goal, of course, is to help you with your own weekly picks, whether those are for a low-stakes office fantasy league, or (legal!) big-bucks bets with a sportsbook. Or for the new Chirp Golf app (which is available in the App Store and at Google Play), which allows users to place live bets using fake money to win real-life prizes.
Our Josh Sens, who won our weekly picks game last year, will kick things off. Whom does he like?
Scottie Scheffler, at +5,500.
“Just a matter of time,” Sens writes. “Just a matter of time. So they keep telling us. I agree.”
Players Championship picks to win
To-win: Viktor Hovland, +2,800. Barring a weekend slip-up at Bay Hill last week, Hovland is as hot as any player in the game, with four top-five finishes, including a win, in his past six starts. He hits greens (ranked 23rd on Tour), makes birdies in bunches (9th) and knows how to score (10th) — a recipe for success at the Stadium Course.
Top 10: Jon Rahm, +200. Five top-10s in past seven starts. About to make it 6-for-8.
Prop: Best 18-hole round score of the tournament: Louis Oosthuizen, +5,000. Louis knows how to go low like the best of them. Witness his cumulative score over his past eight PGA Tour rounds: 26 under.
To-win: Collin Morikawa, +2,200. He’s coming off a victory and played well in his one round (which was wiped out last year) at the Players. The key to TPC Sawgrass is finding fairways and hitting greens, and the best young ball-striker in the game is the perfect fit. He’s struggled putting in the past but was sharp two weeks ago at the WGC, and if he can be even close to that good on the greens again, he’s going to contend.
Top 10: Tony Finau, +225. Are there better near-top-10 locks than Tony Finau these days? He hasn’t played particularly well here, but he’s in solid form.
Prop: To be decided by a playoff, yes, +400. We missed this event last year, so now we need some bonus golf. Plus, the Players’ three-hole aggregate playoff is fantastic theater.
To-win: Hideki Matsuyama, +4,000. Oh how quickly we forget Hideki’s 63 in the opening round of last year’s Players. Had the Tour not stopped play, it’s quite possible Matsuyama could have entered this year’s tournament the returning champion (and to think he hasn’t won since!). I like Hideki to finish what he started this week.
Top 10: Patrick Reed, +400. Reed ranks second on Tour in Strokes Gained: Putting and has only two sub-20 finishes in 2021. This is absurd value for a guy who’s played quite well to date. I’m sorry, but these are just the golf FACTS.
Prop: Best 18-hole round score of the tournament, Jordan Spieth, +3,300. I cannot, in good conscience, pick him to win this golf tournament. But less than two months removed from a 10-under 61 at the Waste Management, I most definitely CAN pick Spieth to have the low score of the tournament.
To-win: Justin Thomas, +2,000. He’s too good to have odds this long, and there are glimmers of hope despite a lackluster start to 2021. If he drives it in the fairway, expect him to contend.
Top 10: Sungjae Im, +550. He’s a Florida killer and finding his form.
Prop: Playoff, +400. It’s gonna get clumpy at the top.
To-win: Dustin Johnson, +1,200. I don’t normally pick the favorite, but I am this week. Hard to deny DJ’s stats this year as a whole, even if he doesn’t have the BEST record at TPC Sawgrass. He did have a T5 in 2019, so that’s enough justification for me.
Top 10: Webb Simpson, +300. I can’t quit you, Webb! And why should I? Guy is a Top-10 machine, playing great. Plus, he’s a former champ (2018). Easy pick!
Prop: Best 18-hole round score of the tournament, Rory McIlroy, +2,200. Regardless of where McIlroy finishes in the big events, seems like he can always be counted on to post a low-to-mid 60s round at some point during the week.
To-win: Christiaan Bezuidenhout, +7,500. I’m following the money on this one. According to our friends at oddschecker.com, Bezuidenhout, as of Monday, has received the most bets of anyone over the past week. He also shot an impressive seven under in his one round last year.
Top 10: Tommy Fleetwood, +450. I actually like him as a to-win bet, too.
Prop: Leader after Round 1, Rory McIlroy, +3,300. I love the leader-after-Round-1 bet, so let’s go with the defending champ.
To-win: Tony Finau, +2,200. This bet is half with my heart, half with my head. There’s no arguing that Finau is playing as well as anyone in golf these days. There’s also no arguing he’s struggled to finish since his lone victory five years ago. This is it. This is the week. My heart and my head are coming together to tell me this is the pick. I believe in you, Tony.
Top 10: Will Zalatoris, +600. This kid is legit. Zalatoris garners more attention with each tournament he plays in. Another strong showing will help to solidify the notion that Zalatoris should be in the discussion as one of the game’s top rising stars.
Prop: Two or more holes-in-one in the tournament, no, -400. Some people watch 17 for aces. I watch for splashes.
To-win: Scottie Scheffler, +5,000. Just a matter of time. Just a matter of time. So they keep telling us. I agree.
Top 10: Lee Westwood, +1,000. How is that this past week’s runner-up, and this year’s Race to Dubai winner, is listed at such long odds to be in the mix on a course that demands such precision off the tee (a Westwood strength)? I have no idea.
Prop: Two or more holes in one in the tournament. +275. We’ll see one at the 3rd and one on the 17th. Book it.
To-win: Collin Morikawa, +2,200. He’s obviously on a heater so this isn’t really going out on a limb, but Morikawa’s game is set up perfectly for a course that requires precision throughout 72 holes. Book another win for the young stud.
Top 10: Webb Simpson, +550. I’m going with another super reliable player here. TPC Sawgrass is about placing the ball where it needs to be, and I trust Simpson to make that happen for me this week.
Prop: Winning margin, one stroke, +225. Even if the leader has a four-stroke lead heading into the final stretch, nothing is safe at the Players. It’s tough to blow out the field here, so I’m predicting a nail-biter.
To-win: Webb Simpson, +2,200. Sawgrass is built for the past champion. Love where his game is at heading into a big event.
Top 10: Jordan Spieth, +350. Feels like he’s in contention each week he tees it up.
Prop: Winner to par the 72nd hole, yes, -175. A par gets the job done on a tough finishing hole.
To-win: Jon Rahm, +1,600. Everything about Rahm’s game tells us he should win here. Everything. He’s been quiet, but not bad. Perhaps he gets it done.
Top 10: Collin Morikawa, +300. Ditto the above. Morikawa is too good to not play well here.
Prop: To make the cut, yes, Matt Kuchar, +100. Among the few players you can get even money on to make the cut, Kuchar is clearly the best.