The Players Championship 2023
We got another event this week in Florida and it’s a huge one, The Players Championship in a way sets up major season with the Masters coming up in a month, and this is arguably the 5th biggest tournament on the PGA Tour. This tournament has been around since 1974, while the 2023 edition features 144 talented golfers, and the top 65 players plus ties after round 2 will move on to play round 3 on Saturday and round 4 on Sunday.
There’s a ridiculous $25M to be won this week, the winner banks $4.5M and also scores 600 FedEx Cup points. TPC Sawgrass (Stadium Course) is 7,256 yards in length, is a par 72, and the greens consist of Bermudagrass. The average winning score at this tournament over the last ten years is -13.8, so the course can be tricky at times. The -24 record occurred here in 1994 when Greg Norman had a fantastic tournament to win by 4 strokes. Place bets on strong off-the-tee players this week, solid approach golfers, those who are sound tee to green, accuracy off the tee is important, and putters who get the job done on Bermuda surfaces have value this week, as well.
Three questions that are relevant to The Players Championship this week:
- Strokes gained: off the tee has proved to be the most important stat here, so which 10 players have been the best in this stat category over their last 24 rounds? Rory McIlroy, Kevin Yu, Hayden Buckley, Keith Mitchell, Cameron Young, Luke List, Scottie Scheffler, Jon Rahm, Patrick Cantlay, and Jason Day.
- Which 10 players gained the most strokes total (minimum 8 rounds) at this event since 2018? Keegan Bradley (16 rounds), Tommy Fleetwood (14 rounds), Justin Thomas (16 rounds), Doug Ghim (8 rounds), Webb Simpson (12 rounds), Jason Day (14 rounds), Tiger Woods (8 rounds), Will Zalatoris (8 rounds), Corey Conners (12 rounds), and Justin Rose (10 rounds).
- What’s my top calculated bet for the week (the goal here is to at least double the wager)? This is always a tough question to answer, but I’ll go with McIlroy’s +120 to finish top 10.
Below you will find players that I will bet, might bet, and five random bets that interest me. The odds come from DraftKings Sportsbook and are outright numbers. My betting strategy is to hedge quite a bit so my upside isn’t huge but neither is my downside, and I’m profitable or break even in roughly 70% of the weeks I’m active.
5 Players That I’m Absolutely Betting
Jon Rahm (+1000) – The betting community may have mixed emotions on Rahm this week given he blew a two-stroke lead last week after an impeccable first round, but I’m going back to him again given he’s the world’s top player and should be motivated to bounce back this week. He said he’s unbeatable when he’s on his A-game, and I tend to agree with him. He has three wins over his last six starts on the PGA Tour, had a T9 here in 2021 and has two top 12’s over his last three looks at TPC Sawgrass. I’m betting him outright and to finish top 10, plus I’ll likely find other interesting bets involving him also.
Max Homa (+2200) – Homa just keeps getting better – he now has three top 3’s in his last five starts including winning the Farmers Insurance Open during this stretch. He gained 8.30 strokes ball striking here last year to finish T13 and that was no thanks to losing 1.33 strokes putting. He was a huge gainer in the ball striking stat line last week gaining 11.10 strokes to the field but his putter let him down losing almost 3 strokes and still finished T14. His putter is usually quite reliable and if he can find a way to gain three or four strokes this week, he will be firmly in the mix to win. I might bet him to win this week and will almost certainly be utilizing his top 10 and top 20 betting numbers on DK.
Jason Day (+2800) – I didn’t see this coming for Jason Day, but he has completely turned around his career over the past half year thanks to a tight short game and off-the-tee play. He has four top 10’s in a row, has pretty much been inside the top 20 every time he plays since last October, and he’s the 2016 Players champ. I can’t commit to betting him to finish top 10 just yet, but will bet him to finish top 20 for sure at +130.
Keegan Bradley (+5000) – Bradley has four straight top 30 finishes at this big event including a 5th last year and a T7 in 2018. His ball striking here has been excellent and he has even putted well on these greens – a rarity compared to most of the courses he has played on the PGA Tour. He has two top 10’s over his last four starts including a runner-up finish at the Farmers Insurance Open, and he’s coming off a T10 last week through solid ball striking and decent putting. I’m going to bet him to finish top 20 and top 40, and will take a close look at his intriguing +450 number to finish top 10 also.
Will Zalatoris (+3500) – He finished 4th very recently at The Genesis Invitational and is quickly getting back up to speed after being out for a few months. He has narrowly missed finishing top 20 here over the last two years, and as long as his putter is better than field average this week, he could contend and should finish in the top 15 as he has gained more than 14 strokes ball striking here already. I’m easily going to bet him to finish top 20 and will likely end up betting him to finish top 10, as well. I’m tempted to bet him outright also, but I’m not going to lay down any coin on that temptation just yet.
5 Players That I Might Bet
Rory McIlroy (+900) – I’ll likely end up throwing down some money on McIlroy this week to win and finish top 10 since he has a high ceiling here given he won the 2019 edition, he went T8-T6-T8 between 2013 to 2015, and he was so close to forcing a playoff last week, so I got to think that he’s super focused this week. He has two wins over his past five starts and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he makes it three wins over his last six starts come Sunday evening.
Scottie Scheffler (+1000) – Here’s another player who was in the hunt late last week but fell a couple of strokes short of the eventual winner, Kitayama. You got to like that Scheffler has eight consecutive top 12’s and won just three starts ago – he’s so consistent with a very high floor and can win any given week no matter what the field and event is. I will probably bet Scottie this week – I’m not sure how just yet but likely much the same as Rory above – to win and finish top 10.
Justin Thomas (+2000) – Just two years ago JT lifted the trophy here in a very impressive win, plus he had a top 3 here in 2016, and a T11 in 2018. He has been pretty good recently as well with six straight top 25’s and locked in a 4th at the Phoenix Open not so long ago. I think I’ll most likely bet Thomas to finish top 20 this week and possibly a top 10 wager too, but I probably won’t touch his outright number since his stats are a tad too spotty for me these days to come out on top.
Corey Conners (+6000) – One of the keys to doing well here is to keep your ball dry and Conners has done that well given his great approach play. He has only played here three times but has a 7th, a 26th, and a 41st on his resume so far and has collectively gained more than 19 strokes ball striking in those three starts. I don’t mind his -110 to finish top 40 this week and his top 20 has me interested also, but I’m going to wait until Wednesday to make a decision on Corey this week after doing some more research.
Keith Mitchell (+6000) – Mitchell must be putting in the work to his golf game again as he has been solid lately with two top 5’s over his last four starts, he has four top 25’s over his last five starts, and seven top 42’s over his last eight tournaments played. If he could find a way to make his short game work, then he would likely have a win between now and his last victory four years ago. He earned a T13 here last year and isn’t such a bad bet to finish top 20 this week, but I’ll likely just go with a top 40 bet on Keith this week which will still almost double my bet.
5 Other Interesting Bets
Top 40 – Tom Hoge (+120) – Hoge has finished no worse than T33 here since 2019, and had a T14 two starts ago at The Genesis Invitational in a fairly stacked field. This bet does present some risk, but it’s not a bad play given the decent reward.
To Make the Cut Parlay – McIlroy, Cantlay, Hatton, Im (+115) – These players regularly all make cut lines and this seems like a good way to more than double your bet on four solid golfers who should all be playing the weekend.
Tournament Winning Margin – 1 Stroke Exactly (+225) – Over the last three editions, the winning score here has been by one stroke. You may also want to bet the playoff at +300 as a hedge since this course is hard and I don’t think we will see any player run away with the title this year given all of the talent at the top fighting for that $4.5M prize.
Tournament Matchup – Sungjae Im over Tom Kim (-120) – Im is a consistent producer on the PGA Tour and Kim has been too for the most part in his young career, but has zero experience here and has been sliding a bit over his last five starts with a missed cut, and three finishes ranging from T34 to T50. I’m not fully confident in this wager, but I do like it and may carry it out on Wednesday.
To Miss the Cut – Patrick Cantlay (+330) – This course presents a ton of variance due to all of the water and troublesome areas on many of the holes. Cantlay, who I love by the way, has missed the cut here in three straight appearances, so he may be worth a wager to miss again. He has many of the PGA Tour greens figured out, but has lost 4.31 strokes to the field in the putting category over his five Players starts.
Be sure to do lots of research and due diligence on each player before parting with your hard-earned money, and all the best in having a profitable week!
Jeremy has been playing fantasy sports for over 20 successful years, and actively plays golf, hockey, baseball, and table tennis. He has over three years of fantasy sports writing experience – including writing a daily fantasy sports strategies and tools eBook in 2016. He is an active member of DraftKings – specializing in NHL and PGA contests over the past 5 years. He enjoys spending time with his family, traveling to hot places in the frigid Canadian Winters, binge-watching on Netflix, and starting and managing digital businesses.