The Players Championship picks, sleepers, betting advice

first_imgPGA DFS: Lineup Builder | How to winBall striking is the name of the game at The Players Championship, and outside of Webb Simpson in 2018 — who putted the lights out — all of the past 10 winners have gained at least four strokes on the field on approach. Off of the tee, players can opt to take less-than-driver on many of the Par 4s and still be left with a short iron on their approach shot. While you can certainly score at Sawgrass if you are striking it well, missing greens can lead to awkward lies and difficult chip shots that can wreck a scorecard at the end of the day. Add in the dozens of water hazards around TPC Sawgrass and you have a course where you can shoot yourself out of the tournament with only one or two bad iron shots. The Players is always a minefield for the world’s top players, and we should expect to see many big names not make it to the weekend. The nature of TPC Sawgrass brings a lot of the shorter hitters into play and opens up a lot of value for outright bets on guys over 50/1 and on top-10/top-five bets for players with long odds. World No. 1 and defending Players champion, Rory McIlroy, is the clear cut pre-tournament favorite at +725, which is pretty amazing considering the strength and depth of the field. There are a host of great players in the 20/1-30/1 range, and I expect guys like Bryson Dechambeau (22/1), Xander Schaffele (25/1), Tommy Fleetwood (28/1), and Dustin Johnson (28/1) to get a lot of attention at their prices. If you have more questions or are looking for more betting and DFS advice (NFL, MLB, NBA, PGA), check me out on Twitter (@DFSBenj).Key StatsStrokes Gained: Approach Strokes Gained: Around the GreensBermuda Putting The Players Championship Betting Advice, OddsOutright Bets to Consider*odds via DraftKings SportsbookJustin Thomas 17/1 Pre-tournament favorite, Rory McIlroy, has outright odds sitting at +725. While it’s hard not to like how the defending Players champion sets up for this week, his odds open up a lot of value for other guys at the top of the board, such as Jon Rahm (11/1), Thomas (17/1), and Bryson Dechambeau (22/1), among others. You’re likely to be faced with a tough decision between these three players if you pass on McIlroy at the top, and for me, Thomas gets a slight edge at his 17/1 odds. We backed Thomas a few weeks ago at WGC-Mexico, and he had a strong showing but fell short after a tough final-round 73. The 17/1 number suggests to me that the books are sleeping on Thomas, who has taken the past two weeks off to prep for this event. TPC Sawgrass puts an extreme emphasis on iron play, and Thomas checks all of the boxes in that department, ranking eighth on Tour this season in “strokes gained: approach” and seventh in “approach from 150-175 yards”. Brooks Koepka 45/1 Nothing about Koepka’s game right now would suggest that he is close to a win, but 45/1 is simply a disrespectful number for the four-time Major champion. Time and again, we have seen Koepka raise his game on golf’s biggest stages, and a trip to Sawgrass with the biggest purse and best field of the season may bring out some form in his game. While Koepka doesn’t have any top-10 finishes at The Players, he hasn’t played that poorly either, making each of his past four cuts at TPC Sawgrass. This seems like a sucker line at 45/1, but I’ll bite on a Koepka outright in a premium event.  Paul Casey 66/1 Casey was everyone’s mid-range pick to win this event last season, and he proceeded to miss the cut. While those missed-cut memories still sting a little bit, I like the idea of going back to Casey this week at nice 66/1 odds. We all know how good of a ball-striker Casey can be, and he yet again ranks inside of the top 10 on Tour this season in “strokes gained: approach”. Casey has a fairly poor record at this tournament, with only one top-10, six missed cuts, and two withdrawals. However, this is an event where you shouldn’t place a huge emphasis on course history, given how TPC Sawgrass can be a place that punishes bad shots with double bogies or worse. I expected to see Casey’s odds in the 50/1 range, so I’m willing to take a stab on him at these odds on a course that on paper fits his game very well. Sergio Gracia 85/1 A name who I don’t expect you’ll hear a lot in the build-up to this week is Garcia. He hasn’t won in America since his 2017 Masters triumph, but the 2008 Players Champion always seems to bring his A-game to Pete Dye courses. It’s extremely rare to see anyone string together consistent results at TPC Sawgrass, but Garcia has put together 16 consecutive made cuts at The Players with four top-10 finishes on top of that ’08 win.  The Florida swing has thus far been excellent after back-to-back competitive tournaments at The Honda Classic and the API. This week, the PGA Tour hosts its premier event, The Players Championship, held at the iconic TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course. The deepest field in golf will compete for the sport’s largest purse ($15 million) and the largest winning share at $2.7 million, so you have no shortage of interesting options for your betting card. Tiger Woods is the only elite player who won’t be there, as he is dealing with a sore back. TPC Sawgrass is a course that is built for TV, and it has one of the best finishing stretches in all of golf with the scorable Par-5 16th, the iconic island green 17th, and the extremely difficult Par-4 18th. Sawgrass is a course that requires precision over power, and course architect Pete Dye made it a point to punish bad shots handsomely at TPC Sawgrass.  Garcia has also quietly put together a solid season, making the cut in all eight of the events in which he’s played, including top-10 finishess at strong field events in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi. Odds of 85/1 represent nice value for a player that has won and contended here a half-dozen times over the past 15 years. Kevin Kisner 140/1 Kisner is a near auto-bet for me when he plays on a Pete Dye course, and he is by far my favorite outright pick among all players with odds over 100/1. Kisner excels on courses that don’t place emphasis on driving distance or off-the-tee play, and he will lean on his solid iron play and short game this week. Kisner has an elite track record on Pete Dye courses, with a resume that includes winning the WGC-Matchplay at Austin Country Club and losing in a playoff at the 2015 Players, the ’15 RBC Heritage, and the ’17 Zurich Classic — all Pete Dye courses. He certainly looked bad last week at Bay Hill, shooting 74/79 to miss the cut, but conditions will be much easier this week with forecasts calling for sunny weather in the 70s with minimal wind. Kisner is also my favorite top-10 bet of the week at excellent 11/1 odds.last_img

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