The Players Championship Picks and Golf Odds
The Players Championship Picks and Golf Odds

While in the CBS booth during the Genesis Invitational, world No. 2 Rory McIlroy mentioned that going to a mallet putter turned around his putting woes and said he would like to see Scottie Scheffler give the mallet a try. 

While it is not confirmed whether that suggestion got to Scheffler, he did show up last week with a TaylorMade Spider Tour X mallet in the bag and ended up leading the field on Sunday (fifth for the week) for Strokes Gained: Putting on the way to a five-stroke victory (15 under) at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. 

Scheffler led the field for Strokes Gained: Tee-To-Green, and he is typically near the top in all ball striking categories, but if he putts like he did over the weekend, it is going to be difficult for anyone to beat him. 

Wyndham Clark finished five shots back at 10 under. Shane Lowry was solo third at 9 under. Finishing T-4 were Will Zalatoris, our nearest pursuer, and Russell Henley. Players rounding out the top 10 included T-6 (5 under) finishers Sahith Theegala and Brendon Todd, plus a four-way tie for eighth, including Andrew Putnam, Byeong Hun An, Emiliano Grillo and Max Homa.

This week, the stage is set for the PGA Tour’s marquee event at The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., just outside of Jacksonville. While you cannot fairly dub The Players as “the fifth major” any longer because of the LIV defections, it is still one of the deepest fields in the game. 

This field is, of course, led by Scheffler (+550), who is attempting to become the first player to win back-to-back at The Players. He won this event by five strokes last year. 

McIlroy (14-1) won The Players in 2019 but fell out of contention last Sunday at Bay Hill with a 4-over round and ranked just 55th out of the 58 players who made the cut for Strokes Gained: Approach. 

Justin Thomas (22-1) won The Players in 2021 and looks like he is starting to find his game again. Also at 22-1 is Xander Schauffele, who finished runner-up in 2018. 

The 25-1 pair is Patrick Cantlay and Viktor Hovland, who finished third here last year.

Homa (28-1) was sixth here last year. Meanwhile, his Ryder Cup partner Collin Morikawa (30-1) missed the cut last week in Orlando. 

Hideki Matsuyama (30-1) has three career finishes of eighth or better here and is already a 2024 tour winner with that Sunday 62 at Riviera last month. 

Zalatoris (30-1) was runner-up to Matsuyama at Riviera and ended up T-4 last week at Bay Hill.

Scheffler, McIlroy and Thomas are not the only former Players champions in this week’s field as they are joined by Si Woo Kim (50-1), Jason Day (50-1), Adam Scott (80-1), Rickie Fowler (110-1), Webb Simpson (300-1) and Matt Kuchar (400-1). 

The Players Championship was conceived by then-PGA Tour Commissioner Deane Beman in 1974 when Jack Nicklaus won the inaugural event in 1974 at the Atlanta Country Club. The event eventually moved to Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., (18 miles from downtown Jacksonville) and the Sawgrass Country Club in 1977 before moving in 1982 to the adjacent TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course, where it remains today. The Players offers the largest purse on the PGA Tour at $25 million and has been considered the unofficial “fifth major” because of its history of having arguably the best field in the game of golf. The winner receives 80 OWGR points, a five-year PGA Tour exemption and three years of exemptions to all four majors.  

There have been only six multiple winners of The Players: Jack Nicklaus (1974, 1976, 1978), Fred Couples (1984, 1996), Steve Elkington (1991, 1997), Hal Sutton (1983, 2000), Davis Love III (1992, 2003) and Tiger Woods (2001, 2013). Outside of this list, 25 other major champions have won this event, including recent ones like Scottie Scheffler (2023), Cameron Smith (2022), Justin Thomas (2021), Rory McIlroy (2019), Webb Simpson (2018), Jason Day (2016), Martin Kaymer (2014), K.J. Choi (2011), Henrik Stenson (2009), Sergio Garcia (2008), Phil Mickelson (2007) and Adam Scott (2004).  

Five players have won The Players and a major championship in the same calendar year: Jack Nicklaus (1978, Open), Hal Sutton (1983, PGA), Tiger Woods (2001, Masters), Martin Kaymer (2014, U.S. Open) and Cameron Smith (2022, Open).

The field contains a full 144 golfers this week with the top 65 and ties making it through the 36-hole cutline to play the weekend. The winner receives 750 FedExCup points and a $4.5 million first-place check from a $25 million purse.

Here is the 144-player field for The Players Championship:

Field Notes

  • Brice Garnett won last weekend’s Puerto Rico Open and earned a spot in The Players field; Alexander Björk bumped to first alternate. 

The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass is one of the most iconic courses in the world of golf. Located in Ponte Vedra Beach on 415 acres of northeastern Florida swampland, the property was purchased by then-PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman in 1978 for $1. The “swampy jungle” was initially full of alligators, deer, wild boars and poisonous snakes. 

The course was designed by the legendary late Pete Dye in 1979 (with a Steve Wenzloff and Pete Dye redesign in 2017) and it hosted its first Players in 1982. The two-month date change from May to March has had such a dramatic effect on how the course has been played that it does not make sense to take much of the pre-2019 results into account. With coastal winds gustier in March, scoring is more random, and the course plays longer, thanks to the softer fairways. Since the event moved from May to March in 2019, the scoring average at TPC Sawgrass has been 0.25 shots over par. It ranks as the 11th-toughest scoring course on tour. 

The track is a par-72 of 7,275 yards. The layout features 92 Scottish-style bunkers (fifth most on tour), 16 water holes (most on tour), including the famous island green on the 17th, and a variety of waste areas. The course is unique in that no consecutive holes play in the same direction and there are both left and right doglegs throughout. The fairways and rough (3.5 inches) are composed of overseeded Ryegrass. The 100% Poa Trivialis greens are 5,500 square feet on average and are fast (13 on the Stimpmeter). In the past, the greens have been Bermudagrass overseeded with Poa and Velvet Bentgrass. They still have a Bermuda base, but the Bentgrass is gone for an exclusive Poa overseed.

Tee shots on the angled fairways are well-designed and encourage golfers to hit toward the trouble for the least obstructed approach shots into the demanding greens. So there is very much a risk/reward element here at TPC Sawgrass. 

Three of the par-3s are under 185 yards, including the infamous 17th-hole island green, which has a double-bogey rate of nearly 8 percent. Though they average among the shortest length on tour, each plays over par with water in the equation on every one.

The par-4s are a mix of challenging risk/reward holes. Three of them play under 400 yards and three more are over 470 yards. The toughest five are also the longest. Almost all of the par-4s are “S-shaped” as Dye wanted both the draw and fade to be in play.

The par-5s at TPC Sawgrass average only 545 yards in length. It is here where scoring becomes crucial as three of them are reachable in two shots. Water is present on holes 9, 11 and 16, which requires players to find the fairway with the driver to have any chance of successfully going for the green. Overall, the four par-5s have a Birdie or Better rate of 39.4%.

Correlated courses include PGA National, Innisbrook, PGA West Stadium Course, Sedgefield, Bay Hill, Harbour Town, TPC River Highlands, TPC Southwind, Concession and Waialae. 

2023: Scottie Scheffler (-17/271); 10-1

2022: Cameron Smith (-13/275); 30-1

2021: Justin Thomas (-14/274); 20-1

2020: Tournament canceled due to COVID-19

2019: Rory McIlroy (-16/272); 14-1

2018: Webb Simpson (-18/270); 100-1

2017: Si Woo Kim (-10/278); 500-1

2016: Jason Day (-15/273); 12-1

2015: Rickie Fowler (-12/276); 66-1*

2014: Martin Kaymer (-15/273); 90-1

2013: Tiger Woods (-13/275); 9-1

2012: Matt Kuchar (-13/275); 55-1

2011: K.J. Choi (-13/275); 45-1 **

2010: Tim Clark (-16/272); 100-1 

Playoff Win over Sergio Garcia & Kevin Kisner – *

Playoff Win over David Toms – ** 

Ron Klos (@PGASplits101 on X) put together some interesting historical Players trends:

  • Only twice since 1983 has a player won The Players on his course debut (Hal Sutton, 1983; Craig Perks, 2002).
  • 25 of the last 25 winners made the cut in the previous start before their Players victories. 
  • Last year, Scottie Scheffler was the first Players winner in 16 years to not have a finish here of at least 23rd or better at TPC Sawgrass.
  • 18 of the last 20 Players winners were rated 45th or better in the OWGR (Official World Golf Rankings).
  • 17 of the last 19 Players winners ranked in the Top 35 for Strokes Gained: Approach on the PGA Tour before their victories.
  • 11 of the last 12 Players winners finished 22nd or better in the previous start before their victory. 
  • 15 of the last 17 Players winners had a morning tee time during Thursday’s opening round. 
  • 11 of the last 13 Players winners had a top-5 finish in the calendar year before their victory. 
  • 10 of the last 12 Players winners ranked in the top 45 for Strokes Gained: Around The Green on the PGA Tour before their victories.
  • 10 of the last 13 Players winners played in at least five previous Players Championships. 

The two players that fit all 10 trends are Rory McIlroy and Russell Henley. Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth and Hideki Matsuyama fit nine of the 10. Scottie Scheffler, Chris Kirk, Keegan Bradley, Patrick Cantlay, Sungjae Im, Nick Taylor, Tommy Fleetwood and Xander Schauffele fit eight of the 10. 

TPC Sawgrass is the fifth-toughest course to gain strokes on approach on the PGA Tour. Each of the last four Players winners ranked sixth or better for Strokes Gained: Approach during their respective winning weeks. 

Strokes Gained: Approach (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Tom Hoge 42.6
  2. Scottie Scheffler 37.4
  3. Sam Ryder 30.3
  4. Lucas Glover 30
  5. Chez Reavie 28.5
  6. Tony Finau 24.4
  7. Xander Schauffele 23.8
  8. Collin Morikawa 23.7
  9. Corey Conners 23.5
  10. Shane Lowry 23.2
  11. Erik Van Rooyen 21.9
  12. Will Zalatoris 21.1
  13. Doug Ghim 20.6
  14. Ryan Moore 19
  15. Chris Kirk 18.6
  16. J.J. Spaun 18.2
  17. Gary Woodland 17.3
  18. Aaron Rai 17.2
  19. Justin Lower 17.2
  20. Eric Cole 17

Since the move from May to March in 2019, TPC Sawgrass has had the third-fewest drives of over 300 yards largely because of cooler air and softer fairways. Players are often forced to club down off the tee and even with doing that, driving accuracy is still below 60% here. 

Good Drives Gained (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Scottie Scheffler 39.7
  2. Andrew Putnam 36.5
  3. Aaron Rai 32.1
  4. Rory McIlroy 30.1
  5. Brice Garnett 30.1
  6. Corey Conners 27.1
  7. J.J. Spaun 26.1
  8. Si Woo Kim 25.9
  9. Viktor Hovland 25.1
  10. Beau Hossler 24.8
  11. Ben Silverman 24.5
  12. Alex Noren 23.5
  13. Carson Young 22.9
  14. Ryan Moore 22.6
  15. Martin Laird 22.3
  16. Joel Dahmen 22
  17. Shane Lowry 21.8
  18. Tyler Duncan 21.4
  19. Harris English 20

Bogey Avoidance percentage is 24 percent lower at TPC Sawgrass than tour average. Big numbers lurk with the tight lines off the tee, the water hazards and the rough. 

Bogeys Avoided (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Chesson Hadley 25.5
  2. Alex Noren 24.7
  3. Collin Morikawa 23.6
  4. Sam Burns 22.3
  5. Andrew Putnam 22.1
  6. Max Homa 22
  7. Xander Schauffele 21.1
  8. Doug Ghim 19.2
  9. Taylor Pendrith 18.9
  10. Scottie Scheffler 18.6
  11. Ludvig Åberg 18.5
  12. Ryo Hisatsune 18
  13. Beau Hossler 18
  14. Greyson Sigg 17.6
  15. Aaron Baddeley 16.9
  16. Rory McIlroy 15.8
  17. Tom Hoge 15.3
  18. Ryan Moore 15.3

While big scores lurk out at TPC Sawgrass, there are opportunities to shoot low scorers if you keep the ball in play. 

Birdie Or Better Gained (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Scottie Scheffler 34
  2. Viktor Hovland 31
  3. Ludvig Åberg 30
  4. Rory McIlroy 30
  5. Byeong Hun An 29.3
  6. Sahith Theegala 28
  7. Eric Cole 27.4
  8. Erik Van Rooyen 25.7
  9. J.T. Poston 23.2
  10. Collin Morikawa 22.3
  11. Adam Scott 22
  12. Wyndham Clark 20.4
  13. Stephan Jaeger 20.1
  14. Garrick Higgo 19.2
  15. Shane Lowry 18.5
  16. Xander Schauffele 18.4
  17. Patrick Cantlay 18.1
  18. Justin Suh 18

Scrambling percentage is around 19 percent less here at TPC Sawgrass compared with  tour average.

Scrambling (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Denny McCarthy 20.6
  2. Aaron Baddeley 20.5
  3. Maverick McNealy 17.7
  4. Brendon Todd 17.2
  5. Taylor Montgomery 17.1
  6. Peter Malnati 16.4
  7. Ben Griffin 14.7
  8. Alex Noren 14
  9. Andrew Putnam 13.5
  10. Justin Rose 12.1
  11. Brian Harman 11.8
  12. Sam Burns 11.7
  13. Steve Stricker 11.6
  14. Kurt Kitayama 11.6
  15. C.T. Pan 11.4
  16. Max Homa 11.3
  17. Christiaan Bezuidenhout 10.8
  18. Jake Knapp 10.5

TPC Sawgrass is one of the more difficult courses on tour to gain strokes around the greens due to misses on approach ending up in unpredictable lies, plus longer rough, short grass and bunkers. 

Strokes Gained: Around The Green (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Aaron Baddeley 21
  2. Mackenzie Hughes 20
  3. SH Kim 16.4
  4. Scottie Scheffler 15.1
  5. Hideki Matsuyama 14.5
  6. Troy Merritt 14.4
  7. Steve Stricker 14.2
  8. Brendon Todd 13.6
  9. Ben Silverman 13.1
  10. Justin Thomas 12.3
  11. Russell Henley 12.3
  12. Si Woo Kim 12.2
  13. Maverick McNealy 11.9
  14. Ben Griffin 11.5
  15. Sahith Theegala 11
  16. Jordan Spieth 10.9
  17. Min Woo Lee 10.5

Five of the par-4s at TPC Sawgrass measure between 450-500 yards including three of the last five holes on the golf course. 

Par-4 Scoring 450-500 Yards (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Viktor Hovland 29
  2. Rory McIlroy 27.7
  3. Xander Schauffele 24
  4. Ludvig Åberg 22.5
  5. Patrick Cantlay 21.8
  6. Scottie Scheffler 18.6
  7. Hideki Matsuyama 16
  8. Chesson Hadley 15.1
  9. Eric Cole 14.9
  10. Shane Lowry 14.1
  11. Alex Noren 13.9
  12. Beau Hossler 13.6
  13. Collin Morikawa 13.4
  14. Wyndham Clark 12.8
  15. Tony Finau 12
  16. Sahith Theegala 11.9
  17. Steve Stricker 11.7
  18. KH Lee 11.5
  19. Nick Taylor 11.3
  20. Erik Van Rooyen 11

The par-5s are on the shorter side here (545-yard average) and three of the four are reachable for everyone in two shots. These holes are must birdies.

Strokes Gained Par-5s (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Min Woo Lee 27.3
  2. Doug Ghim 26.7
  3. Erik Van Rooyen 18.6
  4. Will Zalatoris 17.3
  5. Grayson Murray 16.3
  6. Sahith Theegala 15.9
  7. Scottie Scheffler 15.8
  8. Wyndham Clark 15.7
  9. Taylor Pendrith 15.3
  10. Shane Lowry 15
  11. Matt Fitzpatrick 14
  12. Mackenzie Hughes 13.9
  13. Xander Schauffele 13.7
  14. Sam Burns 13.5
  15. Patrick Cantlay 13.1
  16. Davis Thompson 12.9
  17. Keith Mitchell 12.8
  18. Garrick Higgo 12.6
  19. Max Homa 12.3

The greens at TPC Sawgrass are fast and full of undulations. These are Poa greens, but a much less bumpy Poa that we see primarily on the west coast. 

Strokes Gained: Putting (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Taylor Montgomery 32.6
  2. Aaron Baddeley 26.9
  3. Garrick Higgo 26.2
  4. Sahith Theegala 24.2
  5. Wyndham Clark 23.5
  6. Billy Horschel 23
  7. Dylan Wu 21
  8. Sam Burns 20.5
  9. David Skinns 20.3
  10. Adam Scott 19.4
  11. Chesson Hadley 19.3
  12. Harris English 18.8
  13. Ludvig Åberg 18.4
  14. Brendon Todd 18.2
  15. Emiliano Grillo 18
  16. Chad Ramey 17.6
  17. Viktor Hovland 17.2
  18. Matt Wallace 16.9
  19. Alex Noren 16

Strokes Gained: Ball Striking combines off-the-tee and approach. 

Strokes Gained: Ball Striking (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Scottie Scheffler 53.3
  2. Corey Conners 41.1
  3. Xander Schauffele 33.6
  4. Tony Finau 33.1
  5. Tom Hoge 32.9
  6. Will Zalatoris 28.4
  7. Chris Kirk 28.3
  8. Collin Morikawa 26.8
  9. Rory McIlroy 26.5
  10. Doug Ghim 25.9
  11. Shane Lowry 25.7
  12. Erik Van Rooyen 25.4
  13. Viktor Hovland 25.3
  14. Byeong Hun An 24.6
  15. Justin Thomas 23.7 
  16. Ludvig Åberg 23.1
  17. Carson Young 23.0
  18. Cameron Young 20.9
  19. Sam Burns 20.3

Players who have won or placed high on other Pete Dye designs have played well here at TPC Sawgrass. 

Strokes Gained: Tee-To-Green — Pete Dye Courses (Last 36 rounds)

  1. Scottie Scheffler 67.9
  2. Patrick Cantlay 56.8
  3. Corey Conners 56.1
  4. Xander Schauffele 55.2
  5. Brian Harman 54.7
  6. Sungjae Im 53.9
  7. Justin Thomas 51.6
  8. Keegan Bradley 51.1
  9. Rory McIlroy 46.4
  10. Matt Fitzpatrick 45.5
  11. Shane Lowry 45.2
  12. Russell Henley 44.6
  13. Cam Davis 44.3
  14. Tony Finau 42
  15. Tommy Fleetwood 42
  16. Justin Rose 41.6
  17. Hideki Matsuyama 41.1
  18. Viktor Hovland 40.1
  19. Adam Scott 40.1

Xander Schauffele (24-1, Circa Sports)

Schauffele has four top-10 finishes to start 2024. 

The form is a bit erratic here like it is for every player, but he finished runner-up on debut here in 2018. 

He has a solid record on Pete Dye designs, having won at River Highlands two years ago. 

Max Homa (28-1, BetMGM)

After a hot finish to 2023, including being the standout in Team USA’s losing effort at the Ryder Cup and a victory in the Nedbank Golf Challenge, Homa has been a bit slow to start in 2024, but he did post his best calendar year finish to date with a T-8 last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he ranked third for Strokes Gained: Putting. 

It is highly difficult to find consistent form at The Players and doing so is a futile effort, but Homa has finishes of 13th and sixth over the last two years at Sawgrass. 

Russell Henley (45-1, FanDuel)

Henley already has two top-5s in 2024 at Waialae (Sony Open) and Bay Hill (Arnold Palmer Invitational) last weekend. Both courses are strongly correlated to TPC Sawgrass. 

He was second with the putter last week in Orlando. 

Henley missed the cut here on debut in 2013 but has since gone on to record four top-25s, including in each of the last two years. He also has strong correlating form, which includes a win in the Sony Open; finishes of second and fifth in the Wyndham Championship; and top-10s across the Valspar Championship, Travelers Championship and RBC Heritage.

Corey Conners (60-1, Circa Sports)

Conners is always near the top for Strokes Gained: Approach and Good Drives Gained and this week is no exception. 

The Canadian only has one top-10 here in four starts (seventh in 2021) but is one of the best in recent years on Pete Dye courses because Dye emphasizes precision, particularly with iron shots and hitting fairways off the tee. 

Brian Harman (66-1, FanDuel)

Harman finished T-12 last week at Bay Hill but was fourth in the field for Strokes Gained: Approach. 

He has also had success on Pete Dye tracks recently. He finished second at last year’s Travelers Championship and seventh at the RBC Heritage.

Sungjae Im (90-1, FanDuel)

Im has not exactly been firing on all cylinders in 2024 despite starting with a top-5 at the Sentry. However, he may have shown signs of breaking a temporary slump with a top-20 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. 

It was there at Bay Hill that he gained strokes in all areas. He finished sixth here last year and has a solid record on correlated courses and Dye designs.

Keegan Bradley (110-1, FanDuel)

Bradley has two top-7 finishes here in his last five appearances. 

He won at TPC River Highlands last year and that track has some correlation as a Pete Dye design geared toward ball strikers. He also should have won at Waialae earlier this year but lost in the Sony Open playoff. 

Placement markets, matchups, and any other futures/props will be available on Wednesday at