The best betting props for The Players Championship
I am admittedly a keen fisherman who has never caught a fish, but there is something very therapeutic about sitting on the edge of the lake in the sun with the hope of reeling something in.
If you love fishing as much as I do, there's no better place to go than the idyllic 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass, where we head for The Players Championship this weekend. The Island Green, as it is known, is one of golf’s most iconic and difficult holes to play, with a small floating green accessible only by a small walkway.
It’s estimated that 100,000 balls are fished out of the water every year – amateurs and pros alike. At least if I threw a net in there, I’d be guaranteed to catch something…
The Players Championship is the PGA Tour’s unofficial fifth Major, and with $15 million in the prize purse it’s no surprise to see the world’s best teeing up. As well as the incredible 17th hole, the course is a true test, with the winner having to put in four particularly good rounds to claim the title.
Interestingly, what you do off the tee doesn’t seem too important. Rory McIlroy won this event in 2019 and ranked fifth for driving distance and 49th for driving accuracy, while Jim Furyk, who was runner up, was 72nd for driving distance but third for driving accuracy. Similarly, greens in regulation doesn’t seem too crucial, with three of the last five winners ranking outside the top 15.
What we do need to focus on is scrambling. 11 of the last 15 winners were in the top 10 for scrambling, and around these small greens, being an impeccable scrambler is key.
Current form is also important, with every winner of The Players Championship in the last decade coming off a finish of 22nd or better on their most recent start. Finally, as an interesting quirk – keep an eye out for anyone that has form at The Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield. Six players have won both that event and this one in the last 12 years.
2021 Players Championship odds
Top English Player: Paul Casey (+450)
Casey comes into this event in a real purple patch of form, finishing inside the top 12 in each of the last five tournaments he’s played, including winning the Dubai Desert Classic on the European Tour and finishing 10th in Florida last week in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Casey’s course form is patchy, missing the cut in 2019 after finishing 22nd in 2017 and 23rd in 2016. He has played 30 rounds here though, and hopefully that experience helps him. Crucially, he was third in the Wyndham Championship in 2015 and 13th in 2019, so that is a positive pointer.
Tyrrell Hatton has played here three times, finishing 41st in his debut, and then missing the cut twice. Tommy Fleetwood is the big danger in this prop bet, having posted two top seven finishes in The Players Championship and finishing 10th in the Arnold Palmer last week.
Matchbet: Jason Day to beat Scottie Scheffler (-105)
Jason Day ended up finishing 31st in the Arnold Palmer last week, which goes against the form trend in the intro, particularly as Scheffler’s last effort was a top five finish in the WGC Workday Championship.
But Day’s course form cannot be ignored. A winner here in 2016, Day has four top 10s here in his last eight appearances. By comparison, Scheffler’s only experience of the course was last year when It was postponed after the first round.
That may be the difference, as will Day’s superior scrambling – the Aussie ranks 46th on Tour for scrambling this season, while Scheffler ranks 72nd.
To Make The Cut: Billy Horschel (-200)
Horschel missed the cut last week at Bay Hill, and while that is a significant negative in the outright betting, I’m not going to let it put me off this prop bet as I expect him to be playing the weekend here.
A week before the Arnold Palmer Invitational he was a runner-up to Collin Morikawa in the Workday Championship, showing he has no problem playing in Florida. Previously at Sawgrass, he has only missed one cut in his last six appearances here, posting a top 15 finish in 2015.
He is also an expert at Sedgefield – finishing second in the Wyndham Championship this year, and posting four top 11 finishes in his last five tournaments there.
Top 20 Finish: Ian Poulter (+550)
Poulter only has three PGA Tour victories in the last 11 years, but he’s worth taking a chance on in this prop bet to finish in the top 20.
He was solid at Bay Hill last week, finishing 26th on a challenging course, but that is solid Florida form to go along with flashes of brilliance here at Sawgrass. Poulter finished second in The Players in 2017, and followed that up by finishing 11th one year later.
The Englishman ranks 16th on Tour for shots gained around the green this season, and is fifth for scrambling – two key stats this weekend. Poulter isn’t long off the tee and his accuracy can be hit or miss, but his supreme short game and flawless scrambling can put him in the mix.
He’s +12500 in the outright market, and may be worth a dollar or two.