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PGA Tour – The Players Championship Odds and ML Winner

World(14-29) @ America(29-14)

  • Where: TPC at Sawgrass. Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
  • When: May 11, 2017 7:00 am EST
  • Moneyline: Dustin Johnson (+700), Rory McIlroy (+1000), Jordan Spieth (+1200), Sergio Garcia (+1600), Jason Day (+2000), Rickie Fowler (+2000), Phil Mickelson (+5000)

In March 1994, Greg “The Great White Shark” Norman won The Players Championship with a dominating 72-hole performance. After the trophy presentation, Norman’s agent told a reporter that “this was a terrific warm-up for Greg before The Masters next month.”

It wasn’t exactly what the PGA Tour wanted in a headline. For decades, the Tour has been trying to establish its marquee tournament as a “fifth major” that would rival The Masters, the U.S. Open and the British Open in prestige and fan interest.

While it hasn’t quite worked out that way, a golfer named Tiger Woods did help to change things during his years of dominance, driving up purses and establishing American golf as a worldwide profit cow. Season-spanning competitions such as the Fed Ex Cup have given modern golfers incentive to play all-out in tourneys like The Players, stripping away a layer of complexity for gamblers seeking a money line jackpot.

It also helps that the tournament has been moved to May, when it does not have to compete with Augusta for early-season mojo. No longer must bettors try to discern whether a golfer is really trying to win at Sawgrass, or just working on his major-championship form.

But that doesn’t mean a winning pick is easy. Let’s look at some of the favorites in a very strong field, and some live-betting wisdom as the Tour visits one of its sweetheart courses.

Watch your step, Dustin

Dustin Johnson seemed to have it all going his way headed into Augusta in April. With recent break-through wins under his belt, a celebrated marriage (to a Gretzky no less) and a more reliable, refined putting stroke, Johnson was a prohibitive ML favorite on many Masters betting boards.

But on Wednesday before the toon-ah-mint (as it is called in Georgia) began, Johnson fell down a staircase and was painfully injured. He would sit out The Masters while Sergio Garcia collected his first major-championship victory.

DJ is healthy now, and leading the Tour in tee-to-green play. But some pundits are questioning whether Johnson’s outstanding power can be put to good use at Sawgrass, where he has struggled in the past. The layout includes many short Par 4s on which the driver is often kept in the bag.

Length is always an asset, especially on TPC (The Players’ Club) courses. Woods, Norman, Fred Couples, Adam Scott and other long hitters have triumphed at Ponte Vedra, and any course with Par 5s is vulnerable to Johnson’s big tee shots.

However, while the abundance of drive-and-flick Par 4s may not be a good reason to skip betting on Johnson, his odds are. A money line of (+700) for a golfer who has never finished top 25 at The Players? That’s cause to look down the board.

Jordan Spieth could be an interesting play at 12/1 odds. He is a fantastic iron player and fine clutch putter, competing on a course where his lack of overwhelming power is not an issue. But Spieth has missed the cut in his last two starts at Sawgrass.

Rory McIlroy is a solid no-nonsense bet at (+1000). The always-dangerous Britisher is carrying a 70.06 stroke average, and has finished in the top ten in the tournament three times. But despite impressive stats and a cocksure attitude, Rory has never won at Ponte Vedra.

Sergio Garcia is the best play on the board at (+1600) odds-to-win. In fact, it’s a little mystifying why the Spaniard isn’t rated higher by bookies after the biggest triumph of his career. Sergio has won The Players Championship and finished top ten several times. He just won The Masters with a thrilling weekend performance.

Garcia’s body of work is not as distinguished as that of younger stars above him on the betting board, and he’ll be on the Senior Tour in a dozen years and change. But this is a wager on the 2017 Players Championship, nothing more, nothing less. Take the value.

Bet on Sergio Garcia to win the 2017 Players Championship and get a 50% sign-up bonus.

Live-betting a dead-ball course

TPC courses such as Sawgrass are famous for their “aerial” nature. The golf ball must be hit high and stop on a dot. On the “island green” 17th hole, for instance, there is nowhere to go but up – and hopefully down onto terra firma.

Because there are so few bounce-and-roll options on approach shots, Sawgrass tends to play very easy or very hard. Birdies can come in bunches in the right weather, but premier players can blow sky-high and miss the cut.

If the course is a birdie bonanza in Rounds 1 and 2 with the leader reaching 12 or 15 under par, don’t make a Friday night bet on a lurking superstar in the pack. It’s a low-percentage play to ask even Rory, Sergio or Phil Mickelson to shoot 64-64 on the weekend – and that’s what they would need to catch a leader already in the stratosphere.

But if the course is playing difficult and players at E to -5 are within striking distance, you’ve got your play. Dustin Johnson could conceivably shoot level par on Thursday and Friday – inflating his potential ML payout – then get hot with the putter and catch a less-experienced leader on Sunday. The Cheetah may carry value for bettors in this tournament, just not on Thursday morning.

Head over heart

2017 Masters champion Sergio Garcia has broken hearts so many times, it’s hard for Vegas to buy in…even after an April for the ages.

But it’s not about hype. It’s about results. Nobody has played better at Sawgrass than Sergio, and at futures odds of (+1600) the Spanish swashbuckler is a terrific value pick to win his second big – if not “major” – championship of the season.

 

Kurt BoyerThis article was written by Kurt Boyer

A freelance sportswriter from Missouri, Kurt has covered court, gridiron, rink and ring for 10+ years. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.


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