News & Opinion

2021 Players Championship: Latest betting odds, favorites and sleeper picks for TPC Sawgrass

At 35-1 odds, Hideki Matsuyama has some unfinished business in this week's Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.

Look for Justin Thomas, at 20-1, to reassert himself, but Hideki Matsuyama (35-1) and Chris Kirk (125-1) offer tempting odds

After Bryson DeChambeau triumphed Sunday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, he was so emotionally overwhelmed that he conceded, "It’s going to make me cry.”

We also want to cry. With missed cuts last week by Patrick Reed and Francesco Molinari, and Alex Noren being a non-factor on the weekend at Bay Hill in Orlando, it was the worst weekend in the short history of the picks.

DeChambeau bashed his way to his second victory of the PGA Tour season, vaulting to the top of the FedEx Cup points standings. On a windy Sunday, he emerged as one of only three players to break par. DeChambeau wielded a clutch putter, making a 37-foot birdie on the fourth, a 50-foot par on the 11th and a pressure 5-foot par putt on the final hole to propel him to his eighth PGA Tour title.

We now head farther north to the Tour’s headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., for the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass. It is the annual super bowl for the PGA Tour, given the fact that the Tour does not run any of the four major championships. The Players typically attracts the most competitive field in golf and, at $15 million, offers the largest purse of the year. This week also marks one year since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down virtually all of the sports world, when the Players was canceled after the first round. It will be the first tournament of the season without a defending champion from 2020, a trend that will continue in the coming weeks as canceled events from last year will be renewed.

According to William Hill, world No. 1 Dustin Johnson will be the favorite at 11-1, despite his T-54 result two weeks ago at the WGC Workday Championship. Next up is 2019 Players champion Rory McIlroy and Bryson DeChambeau at 14-1. World No. 2 Jon Rahm was listed at 16-1, followed by Xander Schauffele and Justin Thomas at 20-1.

For our favorite, we like the value on Justin Thomas at 20-1. The world's third-ranked player hasn’t been lighting it up recently, but he has posted some competitive finishes in 2021: a third place, T-13, T-15 and one missed cut on the PGA Tour. TPC Sawgrass arrives at a good time for a player itching to return to the winner’s circle. He tied for third in 2016 at the Players and was T-11 in 2018. Look for Thomas to reassert himself among the elite this week.

For a midrange pick, last year’s first-round leader looks to be the play in Hideki Matsuyama, at 35-1. After tying the course record with a first-round 63 last year, Matsuyama had his dreams dashed by the COVID-19 pandemic. His career at the Players includes two top-10s among five top-25s. Matsuyama is first in strokes gained approach and second in ball-striking in his past 24 rounds at TPC Sawgrass. Matsuyama should be motivated to finish what he started last year.

In the spirit of 500-1 longshot Si Woo Kim winning here in 2017, we’ll take Chris Kirk for a deep sleeper at 125-1. A second-place finish at the Sony Open helped Kirk retain his Tour card for the year, and ever since, he has produced quality starts. Kirk finished eighth at Bay Hill last week and has two top-15 performances in his past five starts at the Players. He is playing some of the best golf of his career, so TPC Sawgrass could be the scene of another shocker.

2021 picks scoreboard:

Winners: 1
Top 10s: 5
Top 20s: 6
Misses: 14

Here are some notable odds, according to William Hill:

Dustin Johnson 11-1
Rory McIlroy 14-1
Bryson DeChambeau 14-1
Jon Rahm 16-1
Xander Schauffele 20-1
Justin Thomas 20-1
Webb Simpson 22-1
Collin Morikawa 22-1
Patrick Cantlay 22-1
Tony Finau 25-1
Jordan Spieth 25-1
Viktor Hovland 25-1
Tyrrell Hatton 33-1
Tommy Fleetwood 35-1
Scottie Scheffler 35-1
Hideki Matsuyama 35-1
Patrick Reed 35-1
Daniel Berger 35-1
Matthew Fitzpatrick 40-1
Sungjae Im 45-1
Paul Casey 45-1
Jason Day 45-1
Joaquin Niemann 50-1
Cameron Smith 50-1
Louis Oosthuizen 55-1
Adam Scott 55-1
Will Zalatoris 60-1
Christiaan Bezuidenhout 66-1
Jason Kokrak 66-1
Lee Westwood 70-1
Sergio Garcia 70-1
Harris English 70-1
Max Homa 70-1
Billy Horschel 70-1
Abraham Ancer 70-1
Justin Rose 80-1
Corey Conners 80-1
Kevin Na 90-1
Francesco Molinari 90-1
Marc Leishman 100-1
Russell Henley 100-1
Lanto Griffin 100-1
Sam Burns 100-1
Si-Woo Kim 100-1
Carlos Ortiz 100-1
Kevin Kisner 100-1

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