GOLF

PGA Betting Guide for THE PLAYERS Championship

With just about any outcome on the table for most of the field, we lean into the volatility and try to peg a winner at TPC Sawgrass.

Picking winners of a golf tournament is hard. Doing it consistently is downright impossible. But finding value is something all bettors must practice in order to give themselves the best chance to make hay when the day finally comes that they ping a champion.

Below, we will cover the best bets for THE PLAYERS Championship based on current form, course fit, and -- of course -- the value of their odds over at FanDuel Sportsbook.

We came up just short of four straight winners with Marc Leishman's runner up at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and now we head to one of the hardest events of the season to handicap. THE PLAYERS features most of the best golfers in the world and leaves many of them trembling in its wake. Last year, some notable missed cuts included reliable stalwarts like Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Paul Casey, and Leishman. The year before, Rory McIlroy, Gary Woodland, Rickie Fowler, and Hideki Matsuyama were among those who failed to make it to the weekend.

Now, two top guys did, in fact, win each of those years -- McIlroy last year and Webb Simpson the year before -- but with so much destruction at the top of the market, we can hardly be blamed for looking further down the market for value in the mid-range and even beyond.

For more info on TPC Sawgrass, along with this week's key stats and comparable courses, check out the course primer.

At the Top

Justin Thomas (+1400) - We'll forego Rory for once, as no one should be in the single-digits at an event this strong, and we'll flip a coin between Thomas and Jon Rahm (+1300) for our first pick. Thomas gets the edge with more experience -- in five tries at Sawgrass, he's made the cut each time and peaked with a T3 finish back in 2016. Rahm was T12 last year but just T63 and T72 the two years prior. Thomas has the longer track record of PGA Tour success, and aside from two fluky missed cuts where just about everything went wrong recently, he has finished inside the top 20 in every event since June. With a win in the FedEx Cup Playoffs and another in the swing season, Thomas is ready to claim a regular-season victory and add a PLAYERS to his sterling career achievements.

Value Spots

Hideki Matsuyama (+2700) - THE PLAYERS have produced world-class winners that include both major champions and guys who "can't win" the career-defining tournament. Golfers like Rickie Fowler (overpriced at +3500) and Matt Kuchar (+5000) have won at Sawgrass, as did Sergio Garcia (+8500) before he eventually also earned a green jacket to shed the harsh reputation. Matsuyama fits that bill, currently riding a winless streak dating back to late 2017 but undoubtedly among the most consistent week-to-week performers in that span. Hideki's long irons and around the green play should serve him well, and the overseeding required to keep these greens in shape in March is a welcome sight for a man who sometimes seems allergic to pure Bermuda.

Xander Schauffele (+3000) - The missed cut last year was preceded by a T2 in his debut the year prior, and we know how much Xander likes to ball out in the strongest fields of the year. Another golfer desperately seeking a major championship to cement his place among the game's elite, Schauffele has been on the cusp of greatness the past few weeks. After gaining 10.3 strokes via approaches at the WGC-Mexico Championships and losing 2.7 strokes with his putter, he was about field average with his irons at Bay Hill but gained 5.7 strokes on the greens. If he puts those two elements together, he can win at any course in any field.

Tony Finau (+4400) - Much the same vein as Matsuyama, Finau is undeniably elite...but what good is that rep without the hardware to back it up? Tony's all-around game and ability to score can keep him in any tournament if the putter cooperates. While last week on the Bermuda greens at Bay Hill he lost 4.9 strokes putting and missed the cut, he shined on overseeded Bermuda in Phoenix to the tune of 5.0 strokes gained putting and a runner-up finish. That he fell to former PLAYERS champ Simpson gives Finau a corollary for course fit and bodes well for his chances this week.

Long Shots

Jordan Spieth (+9500) - Come on, you cowards! Spieth's game has been a mess for almost two years, but these odds are just too good to pass up for the former top player in the world. At this price, we need to embrace volatility, and we know Spieth can be the best putter in the field in any given week.

Max Homa (+18000) - Homa has been playing great golf lately with five straight top 25s, including three top 10s. He's doing this at a variety of courses and leveraging his exemption as the Wells Fargo Championship winner into some of the Tour's most iconic courses -- Torrey Pines, Pebble Beach, Riviera, Bay Hill -- and he putted his best on the overseeded Bermuda at TPC Scottsdale.