THE PLAYERS Championship Betting Guide
Don't call it the fifth major (there are only four, therefore there can be no fifth), but THE PLAYERS Championship still features one of the best fields of the year and one of the most unpredictable outcomes of the season. What do bettors do with the unpredictable? Find as much actionable information as possible and fire some cash on the best values that Vegas gives them.
On daily fantasy sites, the strong field creates flatter, softer pricing that offers DFS players a myriad of options for lineup construction. Likewise in the betting markets, speculators are offered some much longer prices on golfers who might lead the field or be in the top 5-10 in a different tournament. Given the variance in any golf tournament, finding value is key.
Check out the course primer for more of an in-depth breakdown of TPC Sawgrass, but the targets here should be all around quality. The winner will need to knock it close to give himself as many birdie opportunities as possible, and when he misses he'd better be able to scramble to save par.
Let's go through some tiers (sorted by FanDuel Sportsbook Win Odds), divided into plays and fades, identifying good values versus those who are overpriced given their current form and past history.
Keep in mind that betting lines can -- and will -- change in the days leading up to Thursday's opening round.
All statistics are from Fantasy National Golf Club.
The Studs Tier (25/1 and Shorter)
Play: Brooks Koepka (22/1) - Koepka, who has won more majors in the last 15 months than the rest of this tier combined, is the best value at the top of the market. He was second at the Honda just two weeks ago, but the bookmakers must have short memories and can't look past his missed cut at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. It was just his third missed cut in the past year, and in his bounceback event following each of those two MC's he finished 11th at the Masters and 5th at the WGC-Bridgestone. He thrives on the biggest stages and has improved his finishing position at THE PLAYERS each year he's played it, going MC, 35th, 16th, and 11th over the last four years.
Fade: Justin Thomas (16/1) - Thomas has been in peak form for the past few months, but a couple recent rough patches call for caution at this price. His strength is his iron play, but over his last two events he has actually lost strokes on approach in five of the eight rounds. Stay away until he shakes off whatever is bothering him.
The Best of the Rest Tier (30/1 - 50/1)
Play: Hideki Matsuyama (38/1) - Matsuyama has been lights out with his irons lately, ranking first in the field over his last 50 rounds on Tour in strokes gained: approach, opportunities gained (birdie opportunities inside 15 feet), and proximity from 200 yards or farther. Driver is out of the question on many holes given the doglegs littered across TPC Sawgrass, but a safely situated fairway drive that leaves a long iron into the green is exactly where Hideki thrives.
Fade: Jon Rahm (29/1) - Rahm is one of the best young golfers in the world, but this course is just not a great fit for him. The doglegs mitigate his length off the tee, one of his biggest advantages against the field. He is just 66th in strokes gained: approach over his last 50 rounds, and with finishes of 63rd and 72nd the last two years, 29/1 is simply too much to ask this week. In an ideal bettor's world, Rahm will flop here and offer a better value at Augusta.
The Middle Tier (55/1 - 90/1)
Play: Si Woo Kim (85/1) - The 2017 champion led the field in scrambling the week of his win, but he was dominant in all facets en route to a three stroke victory. Kim is always a boom or bust play, but at 85/1 there are plenty of options with a missed cut or a top 25 in their range of outcomes. Kim's outcomes are arguably the widest, but in a market where coming in second place is the same as dead last, that wide range is worth this price if it includes first place. Si Woo has proven that his does.
Fade: Jordan Spieth (55/1) - It is jarring at first to see this number next to the three-time major champion's name, but Spieth has lost a bit of luster over the last 18 months, as much of the field has either caught him or passed him. Spieth is a putrid 119th in strokes gained: tee to green, 105th in scrambling gained, and 90th in strokes gained: approach in his last 50 rounds. He has three missed cuts in his last four trips to Sawgrass.
The Long Shots (100/1 - 150/1)
Play: Matt Wallace (100/1) - Wallace looked every bit at home in the hunt on Sunday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational before fading going in. He has yet to make his name in the U.S. but has two wins and two runner-ups in the past year on the European Tour. He's played in the last three events and has gained scrambling in 9 of his 12 rounds.
Fade: Zach Johnson (130/1) - Johnson has had a great career and is one of the most solid, consistent guys on Tour year in and year out. He may look tempting then, at a price similar to rookies and other golfers lacking even half his resume. But he's not made a charge at THE PLAYERS since his runner-up finish in 2012, and he has just 2 finishes inside the top 30 in his last 10 Tour events. His stats are above average -- 41st in strokes gained: tee to green and 24th in scrambling gained -- but above average isn't enough to get into the winner's circle.
The No Shots Tier: (150/1 or longer)
Play: Chesson Hadley (170/1) - Hadley's history at TPC Sawgrass is hot and cold, but his strong results are definitely noteworthy at this long of a price. He finished 11th last year and 24th in 2016, but missed the cut in 2017 and 2015. He has three top 20s in his last four events and has been really heating up with his irons. He has gained at least 3.1 strokes on approach in half of his last six rounds.
Fade: Cameron Champ (180/1) - After a hot start to the year, Champ's star has faded as he has crashed back to reality with his putter and failed to hold his own against the world's best. He'll still be in play in weaker events, but in a strong field and at a course where his driving distance doesn't help as much, Champ is not one to back at almost any price.