The PGA Tour continues its Florida swing this week as the Players Championship begins on Thursday, March 12 at TPC Sawgrass, a course designed to produce fireworks. The closing stretch of this golf course can produce scores that range from eagle to the dreaded “other.”
In 2015, Rickie Fowler played his final six holes at six under par (birdie-par-birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie), which was enough to get him into a playoff. He went on to win by beating Sergio Garcia and Kevin Kisner.
The Players is often referred to as “the fifth major” and rightfully so, as it boasts the toughest and deepest field of the season. The four traditional majors aren’t able to say the same, as they have a handful of professionals that are able to play their way into those fields via qualifying events and/or a small number of decorated amateurs who can qualify by winning some of the most prestigious events in amateur golf. The field at the Players is simply just the best professionals in the world.
With such a deep field, betting this tournament can be difficult, but we’ve identified four ways to bet this event that may take out some of the guesswork.
Two Players to Win Outright
Oddsmakers are offering 28-1 odds on Webb Simpson to win. Simpson has all the tools necessary to win this tournament. He’s the seventh ranked player in the world and his record backs it up. Simpson won this event in 2018 and proved that he can play TPC Sawgrass effectively. He possess plenty of length to take advantage on the par-5s, but he also excels on the greens. When Simpson gets the flat stick going, he can go toe-to-toe with any player in the world.
His recent form of play is even more evidence that he could break through to win another Players Championship this week. Simpson won the 2020 Waste Management Phoenix Open in early February by making birdie on his 72nd hole to force a playoff with Tony Finau. He then proceeded to birdie 18 again to take home the trophy.
Simpson is clearly not phased when playing in high-pressure situations. Further proof of this was his U.S. Open win in 2012 at Olympic Club in San Francisco. Simpson played beautifully down the stretch en route to the first major win of his career.
More recently, he finished in solo third at the Sony Open in Hawaii in January and lost in a playoff at the RSM Classic in November. At 28-1 he’s a great value to win, but if you’re looking for a bit more wiggle room, betting him to finish in the Top 5 (+600) or Top 10 (+270) would also be worth considering.
Our second pick to win hails from across the pond. Englishman Tommy Fleetwood has also been playing quite well and looks due to break back into the winner’s circle very soon. Fleetwood finished in solo third at the Honda Classic just two weeks ago, but he was in the final group on Sunday and still had a chance to force a playoff as he came down the 72nd hole. Unfortunately for Fleetwood, he came up just short, but his performance was still nothing but impressive.
Fleetwood also posted other quality finishes recently as he finished T2 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship and the DP World Tour Championship. Both these events had stacked fields, further cementing that Fleetwood has the ability to excel on the biggest of stages.
At 27-1, Fleetwood isn’t exactly a sleeper pick, but he has a real chance to win and is still priced well enough to be considered a good value. Also, just like Simpson, a Top 5 (+475) or Top 10 (+220) play on Fleetwood is worth looking at, just depends on your risk tolerance. (Always play within your means)
Best Finish: Australian Players
We came up one shot short of picking the winner at last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational as Marc Leishman battled Tyrell Hatton down to the wire. The 40-1 odds Leishman was getting would’ve been a sweet payoff, but he was a great pick nonetheless.
Taking a slightly different approach this week, Leishman is a great pick to finish as the top Australian player in the field. His odds are currently listed at 9-4, which on the surface doesn’t seem sexy, but this pick has more to do with who Leishman has to compete against rather than trying to hit a long shot.
After winning the Genesis Open in mid-February, Adam Scott has had two performances that left something to be desired. In his next start immediately following the win at the Genesis, Scott finished T26, 14 shots off the lead, at the WGC-Mexico Championship. He followed that up with a missed cut at the Arnold Palmer invitational last week at Bay Hill.
Jason Day had a good showing at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am in early February and it looked like he had his health problems under control, but everything changed last week at the Arnold Palmer. Day was forced to withdraw just a few holes into his second round citing back issues which he has battled off and on throughout his career. At this point, he’s an unknown at best and a WD at worst.
As for Smith, Jones and Baddeley, let’s just call it like it is — they’re simply not on the same level as Leishman. The average world ranking between the three of them is over 130. Smith, ranked 37 is the only of those three remotely close to Leishman who’s ranked 15. Essentially, this bet boils down to whether or not Leishman can outlast Adam Scott and the signs are pointing to yes.
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Top 10 Finish
Colin Morikawa is not yet a household name, but he should definitely be on golf fans’ radar. Since beginning his young career after turning pro in 2019, Morikawa has yet to miss a cut — 21 straight to be exact. The only other player to better that number to start a professional career? You guessed it, Mr. Tiger Woods himself.
Morikawa not only is a cut-making machine, but he has already notched two top-10 finishes in 2020, most recently last week at Arnie’s Tournament where he finished T9, just five shots off the winning score.
Bay Hill was playing brutally difficult, especially on Saturday and Sunday when the wind picked up and switched direction. The greens became rock-hard and as fast as a hardwood floor. Seven-under par was leading after Thursday’s round, yet when it was all over 4-under was enough to win. Anyone who can grind out a Top 10 under those conditions on that golf course shows not only incredible talent, but natural mental fortitude that not many possess.
Morikawa is 9-2 to finish in the top ten and while he might not be making big headlines, don’t be surprised to see his name towards the top of the leaderboard after all the dust settles.
*Odds provided by VegasInsider and FanDuel