The Players Championship is still not technically a major, but try getting this year’s winner to care much about that fact after accepting the $4.5 million first-place check. It will be a record payday from a $25 million purse, and the victor will be able to claim he defeated a top-notch field at TPC Sawgras’ notorious Stadium Course, although it’s not technically “the best field in golf” anymore despite what promos will have you believe.
After all, the top three finishers from last year’s event, including defending champ Cam Smith, have moved onto LIV Golf. And the PGA Tour has moved on from them, even taking away Smith’s prime parking spot at its Ponte Vedra Beach headquarters. Petty drama aside, though, there’s still plenty of actual drama on tap—yes, the 17th hole is still an island par 3—for this prestigious tournament. And there should be plenty of money wagered on it as well. With that in mind, here are our 13 best bets (odds via DraftKings) to hoist that gold trophy.
Reason to pick: We hate picking a guy with single-digit odds, but he basically wins every week these days.
Cause for concern: Not a great record at TPC Sawgrass, although it seemed like it was his tournament to lose in 2021—when he lost it by trying to hit that hero shot out of a fairway bunker on No. 11.
Reason to pick: The reigning FedEx Cup champ also has been pretty darn unbeatable of late, plus he’s actually won at TPC Sawgrass before.
Cause for concern: Actually, he’s looked pretty darn beatable in his last two starts at TPC Scottsdale (T-32) and Riviera (T-29). Still, we give him a slight edge over another 12-to-1 guy . . .
Reason to pick: The winner here in 2021 and kind of the de facto defending champ with Cam Smith going to LIV. Get ready to see JT in a lot of commercials leading up to the event!
Cause for concern: Incredibly, he’s only won twice on the PGA Tour since 2020, but again, one of those came at the Players (2021) and the other at last year’s PGA Champsionship so he’s morphed into solely being a BIG-GAME hunter.
4. Scottie Scheffler (14/1)
Reason to pick: Speaking of BIG-GAME hunters, the reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year has won five of the last 13 best tournaments.
Cause for concern: He’s also gone missed cut and T-55 in his first two tries at TPC Scottsdale. OK, time to get a (little) away from chalk . . .
Reason to pick: A previous Florida winner (2020 Honda Classic) with the type of all-around game that serves players well at TPC Sawgrass.
Cause for concern: Despite a ton of high finishes in his five PGA Tour seasons, the South Korean is still stuck on two career wins
Reason to pick: This lovable Presidents Cup star became the first player since Tiger Woods to win twice on the PGA Tour before turning 21.
Cause for concern: This will be Thomas the Train’s first trip to TPC Sawgrass, which is known for derailing many through the years.
Reason to pick: This guy is so good he even wins when he does mid-tournament interviews. All kidding aside, no one has won more since the beginning of last year.
Cause for concern: With regular PGA Tour wins piling up comes extra scrutiny on Homa’s lackluster record in majors. But that should start to change, and, again, this isn’t technically a major so Max should be good to go. Kidding, Max!
Reason to pick: It seems like ages ago that he was on top of the golf world while winning this event (2016), but he’s quietly flashed great form to start 2023 with three consecutive top-10s.
Cause for concern: But, yeah, it has been a while since his last PGA Tour win (nearly five years) and he’s won just twice since hoisting the trophy at TPC Sawgrass seven years ago.
9. Xander Schauffele (14/1)
Reason to pick: He finished runner-up here as a rookie, and he’s coming off a year in which he doubled his career PGA Tour wins total.
Cause for concern: He’s missed the cut in this event three consecutive times since his dazzling debut.
10. Collin Morikawa (20/1)
Reason to pick: There doesn’t seem to be any firm blueprint for success here, but being one of the best iron players on the planet always helps.
Cause for concern: Well, actually, it hasn’t helped much with a T-41 and a missed cut in Morikawa’s first couple cracks at the Stadium Course.
Cause for concern: Finau ranks in the top 25 of every major strokes gained category except for strokes gained: around-the-green, where he’s only 61st. And there promises to be plenty of greens missed at this diabolical Pete Dye track.
12. Patrick Cantlay (20/1)
Reason to pick: The guy already has two top-three finishes in five starts this season and his putter (29th in strokes gained) hasn’t even gotten hot yet.
Cause for concern: There are a lot of guys with (relatively) poor track records at TPC Sawgrass, but Cantlay’s (T-22, T-23 and three straight MCs) might be the most puzzling.
13. Matt Fitzpatrick (28/1)
Reason to pick: After shedding the dreaded “But he doesn’t have a PGA Tour win!” label at last year’s U.S. Open, there’s nowhere this Brit can’t win. And he’s proven to rise to the challenge of windy Florida weather.
Cause for concern: Not really a concern, but his added distance doesn’t do quite as much for him at TPC Sawgrass.