2019 THE PLAYERS Championship Betting Preview, Odds & Tips

2019 THE PLAYERS Championship Betting Preview, Odds & Tips

Golf specialist Rob Taylor (@RobTaylorSport) previews THE PLAYERS Championship and provides us with his best bets for this week’s event.

  • 2019 Profit & Loss: +48.75pts

2019 THE PLAYERS Championship Betting Preview, Odds & Tips

  • Date: Thursday 14th March – Sunday 17th
  • Venue: The Stadium Course, TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
  • Channel: Sky Sports Golf

It was great to get back to winning ways at the weekend, with Francesco Molinari (35/1) claiming the Arnold Palmer Invitational with a very impressive final round of 64. He is a class act and despite a quiet return to action in 2019, he looked a standout price with his record there. Tommy Fleetwood (33/1) also gave us a return with a third place finish.

Looking to build on that success, we return to TPC Sawgrass and The PLAYERS Championship, for one of the most revered events on the calendar.

Having been held in May for the past 12 years, following some tweaks to the schedule, the event returns to the middle of March, so it will be interesting to see how the change in weather and course conditions affects the players this week.

The top 50 in the field are all present, in what is one of the strongest fields of the year, but I won’t be calling it the 5th major, don’t worry! Tiger Woods and Jason Day both seem to be over their respective injury niggles.

Recent winners include; Webb Simpson -18, Si Woo Kim -10, Jason Day -15, Rickie Fowler -12, Martin Kaymer -15 and Tiger Woods -13.

Key Stats & Facts

TPC Sawgrass truly is one of the most iconic courses on the PGA Tour. Pete Dye’s most famous designed course is a 7,189 yard par 72, with water hazards on 14 of its holes and has recently over seeded its challenging Bermuda greens. The daunting 17th island hole is a 137 yard par three that has seen plenty of drama over the years and provides us with the opportunity to see players struggle in often windy conditions.

This is a technical golf course, so it tests all aspects of a player’s game. The PLAYERS Championship has had a lot of big priced winners over the years but it doesn’t seem to suit one type of game. The wind is set to blow a bit more than normal here this weekend, so we’ll have to see how that affects the players’ strategy, especially with so much water in play. In selecting my picks this week, I’ve analysed strokes gained tee to green, strokes gained approach, par 4 performance and scrambling, which all seem to be important factors in tackling Sawgrass.

Betting Odds – the top 10 in the market (Bet365)

  • Dustin Johnson 12/1
  • Rory McIlroy 12/1
  • Justin Thomas 16/1
  • Rickie Fowler 20/1
  • Justin Rose 20/1
  • Brooks Koepka 22/1
  • Francesco Molinari 22/1
  • Jon Rahm 28/1
  • Tiger Woods 28/1
  • Tommy Fleetwood 28/1

The Verdict

There is a lot of great value around this week, with some bookmakers offering top 8 and top 10 places for an each way pay out.

A strong European challenge looks very possible, with Molinari, Fleetwood, Garcia, Stenson and Poutler all having good records here. With Dustin Johnson struggling to get to grips with the challenge of Sawgrass and Rory McIlroy seemingly unable to convert his regular top 10s into a win this year, I’ve selected five players who I believe can all challenge this week.

Justin Thomas: 16/1

Given the doubts about the top two in the market, Thomas’s price is standout to me this week. Stats wise, he is off the chart so far this season; 1st in approach, 2nd in tee to green, 13th in ball striking and 8th in par 4 performance.  It all bodes well for the challenge at Sawgrass.

Whilst a disappointing 2nd round saw his chances fade at the Honda in his last outing, his other results have been excellent, with a 2nd, two 3rds, a 9th and a 16th so far in 2019. It’s surely time for a win.

As for his record here, he was 3rd in 2016 and 11th last year, including a 68/66 over the weekend, so he can clearly play well here. My only negative this week with Thomas, is the wind forecast. When the wind blew during the final round at the Genesis Open, when seemingly in control of the tournament, he struggled to finish the job off and painfully let JB Holmes come through to take the win. However, for me, there are more than enough positives in his game right now, to suggest he can claim his first win of the season.

Xander Schauffele 28/1:

Schauffele continues to go under the radar in the market this week. The world number 8 is a regular elite performer, including two wins already this year and is available at a very favourable each way price. Schauffele has also had three top 15 finishes in his last three starts and finished 2nd here on debut last year, with three rounds in the 60s.

His stats speak for themselves as well; 21st in ball striking, 13th in tee to green, 11th in approach, 11th in par 4 performance and 16th in scrambling, showing that his all round game is in great nick to tackle the challenge at Sawgrass this week and I see him going really well.

I also really fancy Xander to go well in the majors this year and given that he is currently 33/1 for The Masters, another good performance here, will surely see that price drop further.

Hideki Matsuyama 40/1:

I picked Matsuyama last week and it was a regular story for the Japanese star. He was excellent from tee to green as well as around the greens, but he couldn’t get the putter going. His stats this season suggest though that a win is coming, so on a course where strong putting stats aren’t quite as crucial, I’m willing to take the 40/1 on offer.

Matsuyama sits 2nd in approach, 3rd in tee to green and 4th in scrambling, that’s very impressive golf, further demonstrated by two top 10s and two top 20’s in his past 5 starts. His record at Sawgrass is decent as well, finishing 7th in 2016 alongside three other top 25s. I’m hoping he can put last week’s average display behind him to challenge once again.

Patrick Cantlay: 45/1

Cantlay’s record this season so far is sneakily good. With five top 10s and two other top 20 finishes so far this season, 45/1 seems a very attractive price to take. Rested after a couple of weeks off, Cantlay can look forward to returning to Sawgrass, where he was first round leader last year.

Importantly, Cantlay also seems to thrive on other Pete Dye designed courses, with a number of solid performances on other courses including, Hilton Head and River Highlands. His stats this year so far read; 7th in tee to green, 2nd in par 4 performance, 24th in approach and 8th in scrambling, so  I can see Cantlay continuing his rich vein of form this week and improving on his best finish here of 22nd and 23rd. 

Other players to note:  Some players at bigger prices that were also on my shortlist include; Paul Casey 50/1, his scrambling put me off, Lucas Glover 66/1, his stats and recent performances show why so many fancy him this week and Henrik Stenson 66/1, showed glimpses of a return to form last week after a poor start to 2019 and has a fantastic record here, including a win back in 2009. You can’t pick them all though, so I am happy with my four selections.

Recommended Bets

  • 2pts Each Way – Justin Thomas @ 16/1 (Various)
  • 2pts Each Way – Xander Schauffele @ 28/1 (Various)
  • 1pt Each Way – Hideki Matsuyama @ 40/1 (Various)
  • 1pt Each Way – Patrick Cantlay @ 45/1 (Various)
  • 1pt Each Way – Jason Day @ 40/1 (Various)