Players Championship 2023: Predictions, Best Bets, Sleepers

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Patrick Cantlay hits from a sand trap to the first green during third round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament Saturday, March 4, 2023, in Orlando, Fla.
(AP Photo/John Raoux)
Ryan Hannable @RyanHannable Mar 08, 2023, 8:32 AM
  • The Players Championship, a designated event, is March 9-12.
  • Some of the best players on the PGA Tour have won this event of late.
  • Rory McIlroy (+900) has the best golf odds to win.

There have been four designated events this year on the PGA Tour, and all have delivered fantastic finishes on Sundays, with the best players at the top of the leaderboard.

The Players Championship this week, the fifth designated event of the year, should be no different.

TPC Sawgrass is one of the best courses on the Tour. Although it plays under 7,200 yards, the scores aren’t outstanding, primarily because water comes into play on 17 of the 18 holes.

In the last 11 editions of the tournament, the winning score has been between 10-under and 18-under. Players can post good rounds; it just won’t be a birdie-fest.

Last year, rainy, windy, and cold conditions forced a Monday finish. Because it was such an unusual week, last year’s tournament won’t be a huge factor in this year’s predictions.

Like most Pete Dye-designed courses, TPC Sawgrass is a positional course where length isn’t needed off the tee. Players must avoid water hazards and scramble for pars when needed. The course rewards the best approach players and those with elite short games.

The par-3 17th hole with an island green is arguably the most recognizable hole in golf, and it is part of a terrific three-hole closing stretch. The par-5 16th allows players to make a birdie, anything can happen on the 17th hole, and No. 18 is a difficult par-4 with water along the entire left side of the hole.

The last three winners have all been some of the game’s best – Cameron Smith (2022), Justin Thomas (2021), and Rory McIlroy (2019). 

As of Tuesday, McIlroy and Jon Rahm have the best odds to win at +900.

But, with so many water hazards in play, some big scores can be made; it’s not unusual for long shots to be in the mix come the weekend.

Below are some players to target when golf betting, followed by my unusually big betting card for the week.

betmgm-players-championship-bonus-bet

Players Championship Predictions

Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy are predicted to win the Players Championship with a 10% implied probability – i.e., the overall chance of a potential outcome in relation to the odds – according to betting markets.

Scottie Scheffler has the next best odds to win with an 8.33% implied probability. He’s followed by Justin Thomas at 5.26%.

*All odds as of March 7.

Players Championship Best Bets

Rory McIlroy +900 Odds to Win

McIlroy will be a popular player this week, but it’s been a mixed bag for him at TPC Sawgrass. He won in 2019 but has two missed cuts in his last four editions.

He’s trending in the right direction following a T-2 finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational a week ago, but he admitted he’s still a ways off from his best golf.

Jon Rahm +900 Odds to Win

Rahm returned to earth last week with a T-39 finish, but he’s still the hottest golfer on the PGA Tour. He’s made the cut in all five appearances at the Players Championship, including two top-10 finishes.

It’s worth noting Rahm seems to struggle a bit with Bermuda greens, which could limit his ceiling again this week.

Jason Day +2800 Odds to Win

Day is on a hot streak, with five top-10 finishes this year alone. He also won this event in 2016 and has had two top-10 finishes since.

The 35-year-old is back to playing at a similar level to when he was consistently in contention each week he teed it up.

Players Championship Sleepers

Keegan Bradley +5000 Odds to Win

Bradley is playing some solid golf this season, yet oddsmakers don’t seem to recognize it. The 36-year-old has a win and four top-10 finishes this year, and he’s played very well at TPC Sawgrass.

Of all the players in the field, Bradley has the highest Strokes Gained: Total in the field (30.56) over the last five years of the event.

Adam Scott +10000 Odds to Win

Scott loves TPC Sawgrass. He’s third in Strokes Gained: Total over the last five years, which includes three top-12 finishes. He missed the cut a year ago, but I’m throwing last year out, given the tough conditions.

The 42-year-old has a few events where he always seems to be in contention, and this is one of them.

Players Championship Betting Card & Other Predictions

  • Sungjae Im Outright Win +3300
  • Tom Kim Outright Win +4000
  • Keegan Bradley Outright Win +5000
  • Corey Conners Outright Win +6600
  • Davis Riley Outright Win +12500
  • Ben Griffin Outright Win +20000
  • Patrick Cantlay Top-5 Finish +333
  • Will Zalatoris Top-10 Finish +260
  • Adam Scott Top-20 Finish +333

This was a tough week to pick since most of the top players in my Fantasy National model didn’t give much value. 

I went primarily with ball strikers as, historically, these players fare well at TPC Sawgrass. Riley and Griffin are young talents who will eventually win, so why not take a long shot play this week?

Cantlay and Zalatoris are good values on props since Cantlay has missed the cut three straight times at this tournament, and Zalatoris is coming off a disappointing week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational (T-53).

Below is the top 10 of my model: 

  1. Tony Finau
  2. Rory McIlroy
  3. Patrick Cantlay
  4. Jon Rahm
  5. Scottie Scheffler
  6. Sungjae Im
  7. Xander Schauffele
  8. Max Homa
  9. Shane Lowry
  10. Jason Day

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About the Author

Ryan Hannable

Read More @RyanHannable

Ryan Hannable is a Content Managing Editor on the Web Content Team for BetMGM. Previously, he was a New England Patriots beat writer for WEEI in Boston. He also has published a golf book, “The Ultimate Book of Golf Trivia: 600 Questions and Answers.”

Ryan Hannable is a Content Managing Editor on the Web Content Team for BetMGM. Previously, he was a New England Patriots beat writer for WEEI in Boston. He also has published a golf book, “The Ultimate Book of Golf Trivia: 600 Questions and Answers.”