PLAYERS Championship 2023: PGA expert betting predictions

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There’s a couple things I can share about the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass others won’t mention in the PLAYERS Championship betting previews. The first key is that I’m writing this in the media center at the PLAYERS. I’ve walked the grounds and the practice tee. For the fourth week in a row, I am on-site to cover the PGA TOUR from a betting perspective. Watching week after week makes a huge difference.

I have also played the Stadium Course several times. Whether you are a fan of Pete Dye’s designs or not, one cannot deny the amazing blend of risk and reward this golf course presents to these players. From the first tee to the infamous island 17th, this par 72 layout covers 7,275 yards. The field of 144 players this week will be competing for more than one of golf’s most prestigious titles, there’s $25 million dollars in the purse and $4.5 million for first place.

Players Championship 2023: Course layout and past tournament information

Twenty-three of the top 25 and 69 of the top 100 are here to compete for golf’s figurative fifth major. Unlike last year, the weather will play a supporting role to the golfers. Seasonal temperatures are expected in the mid 70’s with relatively calm coastal breezes (12-15 mph). TPC Sawgrass sits just over one mile from the Atlantic Ocean. Friday evening a little rain is expected, but with sub-air systems under the greens, I expect the course will play this week just as the PGA TOUR wants it to.

Designing a blueprint to take on Dye’s diabolical design takes all of this inside knowledge. Television just doesn’t give you an accurate representation of the layout. Little details like the size of the 17th green, quirky approach angles on the lengthy par-4s, and most of all the treachery that exists all around these green complexes have to be experienced first-hand. When Julie Andrews sang the hills were alive, she was referring to Pete’s penchant for uneven lies around each of these hole locations.

Much like so many PGA TOUR events, this tournament has seen some changes over the years. Pay special attention to the fact that from 2007-2018 the PLAYERS was contested in May. With much firmer conditions, Bermudagrass greens and rough, the course was different. Stick with the last three editions, for a more accurate example of how this year will play out.

Since 2019, the average winner’s odds are +2000 (20-1). McIlroy, Thomas and Smith were the winners, but how about the guys who finished just behind them? Jim Furyk, Lee Westwood, and Anirban Lahiri were the respective runner-ups. That polar opposite perspective explains the essence of this event. I do believe an elite player will receive the Golden Man trophy on Sunday, but to bet the field successfully there are plenty of opportunities.

Let’s take a look at the 2023 Players Championship odds board for this weekend. 

Players Championship 2023: Full odds to win

Jon Rahm +850

Rory McIlroy +850

Scottie Scheffler +1000

Patrick Cantlay +1900

Max Homa +1900

Justin Thomas +1900

Xander Schauffele +2500

Viktor Hovland +2700

Tony Finau +2800

Collin Morikawa +2800

Will Zalatoris +3200

Jordan Spieth +3200

Matt Fitzpatrick +3400

Tyrrell Hatton +3400

Cameron Young +3600

Jason Day +3600

Sungjae Im +3700

Joohyung Kim +4100

Shane Lowry +4800

Keegan Bradley +5000

Rickie Fowler +5000

Keith Mitchell +5500

Corey Conners +6500

Si Woo Kim +7000

Sam Burns +7000

Sahith Theegala +7000

Chris Kirk +7500

Tommy Fleetwood +8500

Hideki Matsuyama +8500

Kurt Kitayama +9000

Justin Rose +10000

Adam Scott +10000

Tom Hoge +10000

Francesco Molinari +10000

Harris English +10000

Webb Simpson +14000

Aaron Wise +14000

Brian Harman +15000

Wyndham Clark +15000

Seamus Power +15000

Russell Henley +15000

Gary Woodland +17000

Alex Noren +17000

Billy Horschel +18000

Ryan Fox +18000

Davis Riley +18000

Taylor Montgomery +18000

Sepp Straka +19000

Adam Hadwin +19000

Min Woo Lee +19000

Maverick McNealy +21000

Patton Kizzire +21000

Justin Suh +21000

Taylor Pendrith +22000

K.H. Lee +23000

Lucas Herbert +23000

Danny Willett +23000

Players Championship 2023: Winning trends

Alongside my best bets, consider these five traits this week when it comes to making successful wagers.

  1. Twelve of the holes at TPC Sawgrass have a bogey rate over 15%. The best in this field for Bogey Avoidance are Jason Day, Scottie Scheffler, and Si Woo Kim. Sounds like three good picks, two of them have won here before.
  2. Ten of the holes have a birdie rate over 15%. With four par-5s and two short par-4’s making birdies is a big part of winning here. Nobody makes more on tour than Jon Rahm, Max Homa, and Rory McIlroy (Three of everyone’s favorites this week).. 
  3. Four of the toughest five holes relative to par on the course are par-4s. Carefully calculate who can gain against the field in par-4 scoring. Another short list of familiar names, Scottie Scheffler, Max Homa, Jason Day, and Patrick Cantlay are the best. 
  4. Short game plays an intense role around the Stadium Course. Combine strokes gained putting and around the green and you get an analytic called Strokes Gained Short Game (SG:SG). Dye’s course will contest these two aspects of your game continuously. Here’s the best in the field at getting a passing grade; Maverick McNealy, Jason Day, and Jon Rahm. 
  5. In order to make more birdies, you’ll need to create opportunities. Opportunities Gained is a measure of how often you hit the ball inside ten feet. With a wedge in your hand on approach over one-third of the time, proximity to the hole really differentiates. Watch out for the radar-like approaches from these four players who lead the field in generating birdie chances; Cameron Young, Tony Finau, Rory McIlroy, and Kurt Kitayama.

In line with those unique points of PLAYERS differentiation, don’t ignore the flatstick this week. Much like Bay Hill and the API, making putts all week is how to contend. From 2019-2022 the winners gained more strokes against the field on the greens than off the tee and around the green combined.

Best bet to win:Jordan Spieth (+4100 on FanDuel)

Winners around TPC Sawgrass are major caliber. Seven of the last 10 winners have at least one of golf’s holy grails. My pick to win the PLAYERS has three of them. Jordan Spieth is hitting the golf ball better than he ever has in his career. The media maligns his putting, but when it comes to a big stage, Spieth shows up. Since we can’t win much cash at the top of the board, I love Jordan’s win equity in elite events and these odds.

Best bet to finish in the top 10: Scottie Scheffler (+125 on FanDuel)

While others focus on Rory and Rahm, I’m banking on Scottie Scheffler for a little placement cash. Five wins in the last year and he’s coming off a disappointing fourth place at API. He hasn’t finished worse than 12th in five starts this season.

Best bet to finish in the top 40: Davis Riley (+210 on FanDuel)

Another placement bet I love this week after walking the practice tee is Davis Riley. The young superstar from last year gained over eight strokes against the field on a very difficult Bay Hill course. He finished eighth and gained over a stroke on approach and more than five strokes with the putter. A perfect blend for Pete’s place.

Best head-to-head matchup: Chris Kirk over Sam Burns (-115 on PointsBet)

Matchups make money. At Read The Line, not only have we predicted two outrights in the last two weeks (Chris Kirk and Jin Young Ko), but we have a 55% lifetime success rate on all H2H’s. My trick is to look on-site for players working on their game. Chris Kirk has a win and two third place finishes this year. Sam Burns has lost 11 strokes to the field on approach in his last two starts.

If you didn’t Read The Line this week you missed another win. Jin Young Ko earned our first LPGA victory in 2023. We’ve had a +5000 (50-1) return in the last two weeks!

For a complete list of my betting predictions covering winners, placements, H2H matchups, One and Done picks, and DFS recommendations for the LPGA and PGA TOUR please go to Read The Line and subscribe.

Read The Line is the leading golf betting insights service led by 5-time award winning PGA Professional Keith Stewart. Read The Line covers the LPGA and PGA Tour, raising your golf betting acumen week after week. Subscribe to Read The Line’s weekly newsletter and follow us on social media: TikTok, Instagram, Twitter.

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