The PGA TOUR heads to Ponte Vedra Beach for THE PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass (Stadium) this week. The tournament features 49 of the top 50 players in the FedExCup Playoffs and Eligibility Points List and 43 of the top 50 players in the Official World Golf Rankings.
TPC Sawgrass (Stadium) features one of the most exhilarating three-hole finishes on TOUR. The first of those three, the 16th hole, is a reachable par-5 with water short right of the green that can lead to anything between an eagle and a double-bogey. Then the island-green 17th hole looms across the water as players hit to one of the most iconic holes on the PGA TOUR. Finally, players must manage the par-4 18th that bends around a lake on the left and has densely packed trees right of the landing area.
Our golf betting experts are ready with their best bets along with their picks for the favorite to back, player to fade, longshot to target and more. Find their picks and analysis below.
Favorite We’re Backing
Best Long Shot
- Jason Sobel: Sepp Straka
- Chris Murphy: Russell Henley
- Matt Vincenzi: Justin Suh
- Spencer Aguiar: Si Woo Kim
- Jason Sobel: Tony Finau
- Chris Murphy: Jordan Spieth
- Matt Vincenzi: Tom Kim
- Spencer Aguiar: Cameron Young
Contrarian Player to Target
- Jason Sobel: Keegan Bradley
- Chris Murphy: Chris Kirk
- Matt Vincenzi: Shane Lowry
- Spencer Aguiar: Brendon Todd
Trend That Guides Your Betting Strategy
Sobel: This doesn’t really count as a “trend,” but last year’s edition of this tournament lasted five days, featured all four seasons and had a wicked dispersion between the two separate draws. Point is, if you’re intently focused on data points from that event, you’re doing it wrong. Throw in the fact that 2020 was canceled due to COVID-19 and we really only have two of these events – 2019 and 2021 – from which we can approach analytically since the move from May to March.
Murphy: We are on another course where we see a lot of volatility in the year-over-year results of players with many top finishes also having their share of missed cuts.
I am mostly ignoring course history this week and instead using a unique crossover from the Wyndham Championship where we have seen a number of players with success at Sedgefield Country Club also find success at Sawgrass. Players like Webb Simpson and Si Woo Kim immediately come to mind as winners on both courses, and that correlation will lead to my favorite bet of the week as well.
Aguiar: It is important to note that the move from May to March has done a few noteworthy things to the expectation of how TPC Sawgrass will play. For starters, older iterations of the contest presented us with dormant (but playable) Bermuda that made stopping your irons on these small and quick greens nearly impossible.
None of that suggests that the speed won’t still be there on putts, but the softer landing areas will transform this venue in March since we see the property overseeded with a texture much more conducive to shot-shaping. I wouldn’t overly analyze past iterations of this tournament for that reason.
Your Best Bet
Sobel: Max Homa +2200 (FanDuel)
I’ll admit that for too long I looked at Homa simply as a feel-good story – a nice guy who scratched and clawed his way to the PGA TOUR, roasted some swings on social media and won a few tournaments.
He’s proven now, though, that he’s one of the game’s most talented players, a stone-cold assassin when he gets into contention. Homa ranks ninth in SG: Tee to Green, sixth in SG: Approach, eighth in SG: Putting and second in SG: Total. Those are very obviously elite numbers – and he led the field in SG: Approach at the API last week.
If you don’t love this price, here’s a thought: Since Homa has an afternoon tee time in Round 1, and with some of the game’s elite players teeing off in presumably perfect conditions the morning, waiting to play him once there are a few mid-60s scores on the board could result in getting a discounted number.
Murphy: Tom Kim +4000 (PointsBet)
I’ve been following this number on Tom Kim for THE PLAYERS since the start of the year. I almost took it a couple of times, but I’m glad I waited as his play the past few weeks has caused it to drift.
I don’t want to discount the fact that he hasn’t had the best of finishes lately, but I like what I saw from him at the Arnold Palmer Invitational this past week. On Sunday he shot 2-under and gained 2.64 shots on the field with his ball striking. He’ll be able to build off of that momentum into this week, where I think his game is a perfect fit for TPC Sawgrass.
Kim is a really accurate player off the tee and excels on approach, especially with his wedges. This is a course that won’t punish him for a being a little shorter off the tee than many of the other top players in the world, and it will allow him to play to his strengths.
While there may be some concern about him making his debut in this event, I think he will benefit greatly from having Rickie Fowler’s former caddie, Joe Skovron, to guide him through his first tournament rounds at THE PLAYERS. Skovron was there with Fowler when he won in 2015, and his experience around this course will be vital for Kim to just play his game.
As I noted above, he also has the correlation to the Wyndham Championship where he won in 2022 by five shots. All of this has Tom Kim lining up as a solid add to the mid-range of my card for this week at Sawgrass.
Vincenzi: Jason Day +3400 (DraftKings):
While he’s yet to win, Jason Day’s 2023 resurgence is undeniable. In his five starts this year, Day’s worst finish has been 18th. The former No. 1 player in the world has been extremely consistent in all facets of his game and has seemingly recaptured his putting stroke, which was one of the major reasons he was so dominant from 2015-2017.
The Australian has played extremely well at TPC Sawgrass throughout his career. He won THE PLAYERS back in 2016 and also has three additional top-10 finishes in the event. Day’s success at TPC Sawgrass resembles his success on other Pete Dye tracks over his career. The more recent success hasn’t been there at Dye designed courses, but going back 75 rounds, Day ranks second behind only Rory McIlroy in Strokes Gained: Total on them.
The comeback for Day has been impressive, but he needs to capitalize on his strong form with a victory. The 35-year-old is seemingly in the best physical shape he’s been in for years, and this sets up perfectly to contend at THE PLAYERS Championship.
Aguiar: Billy Horschel (-120) Over Gary Woodland
The number has moved a little, but anything under -135 still shows value because of the volatility surrounding Gary Woodland. My model found glaring red flags in various sectors of the sheet for the 38-year-old, including ranking 107th on fast greens, 93rd on Pete Dye tracks, 106th in weighted scoring and 115th for scrambling.
Those returns scream, “GO THE OTHER WAY!!!”
Horschel’s profile isn’t perfect, but as I always say, it is more important to find golfers to oppose than ones to back in the head-to-head market.
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