A thrilling end to last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational has set the scene for what should be a wild weekend at the Players Championship. Florida’s historic TPC Sawgrass, well known for its infamous Island Green on 17, hosts the 46th edition of the time-honoured event. World No. 1 Dustin Johnson headlines, alongside Tiger Woods and last week’s winner, Francesco Molinari.
With the Top 50 players from both the FedEx Cup standings and the World Golf rankings participating, the Players Championship often boasts the strongest field of the year. Australians have won this tournament on five separate occasions, the most recent being Jason Day in 2016, while 2004 winner Adam Scott also stands a chance.
As the PGA Tour continues to provide upsets each week, we’ve done our best to preview all the top chances, as well as a few wild cards to keep an eye on. Be sure to check our complete 2019 Players Championship Preview below.
The Players Championship Best Bet
Rory McIlroy – $13.00
McIlroy is right where Molinari found himself a week ago – on the cusp of a win. The Irishman would have finished higher than sixth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational a week ago if it wasn’t for a disappointing final round 72. Even so, McIlroy has still finished inside the Top 10 in his last six tournaments, great news as he heads to Sawgrass with a chip on his shoulder. The 29-year-old missed the cut at last year’s Players, but keep in mind he has finished inside the Top 10 on four starts at this tournament. McIlroy just so happens to rank first in the PGA’s off-the-tee ranking, making the re-seeded TPC turf more than ideal.
The Players Championship Top 5
Ian Poulter – $11.00
The three-time Tour winner was outstanding last week at Bay Hill around the green. Poulter finished tied for 23rd, but keep in mind, he carded six birdies on Day 2 to put himself close to the top of the leaderboard. Experience and strong results count for a lot at these big events, and that’s exactly what the Englishman has. Poulter has finished runner-up twice at Sawgrass, and now looks to improve on last year’s 11th place finish.
The Players Championship Top 10
Justin Thomas – $2.38
Hardly a surprise to find Thomas among the co-favourites. The American will look to rebound after tying for 30th at The Honda Classic earlier this month, and although the 25-year-old is yet to claim a win in 2019, Thomas is among the best in just about every statistical category this season. He’s never missed a cut in four appearances at The Players, with his best finish coming in 2016 where he tied for third. Making the cut at this tournament is perhaps the toughest challenge on Tour, making Thomas a great chance to finish Top 10 this year.
The Players Championship Top 20
Adam Scott – $2.50
Don’t be surprised if Scott, the 2004 Players Champion, bounces back with a Top 20 performance this weekend. His performance at The Honda Classic last week was below average, missing the cut after a disappointing opening round 72. Still, it’s easy to forget Scott was among the facourites at the Genesis Open last month, a tournament that saw him finish tied for seventh. Scott has been among the fields best at Sawgrass finishing inside the Top 20 on five occasions. He’d do well to rediscover 2004’s winning form.
The Players Championship Field
Dustin Johnson – $13.00
The 34-year-old returns to TPC Sawgrass having finished tied for 17th last year. Johnson’s enjoyed a three-week break following his win in the World Golf Championship in Mexico last month, a worthy reward having now finished inside the Top 10 in three of his four tournaments this year. Johnson also ranks Top 10 in the PGA’s putting and tee-to-green ratings, but success hasn’t come easy at Sawgrass. The American has failed to finish higher than 12th (2017), missing the cut once and finishing outside the Top 50 on four occasions.
Francesco Molinari – $21.00
Molinari’s putting masterclass was in full swing last week at Bay Hill. The 36-year-old found himself five shots back of the lead on the final day, nailing eight birdie putts including a fantastic chip shot from the rough on 8 to walk away with the win. Molinari was well suited to Bay Hill, a course that requires strong iron play and straight precision from the tee. TPC is very similar, and since the Italian has seven years experience at this event including three Top 10 finishes, don’t be surprised if the in-form Molinari is among the leaders on the final day.
Justin Rose – $21.00
No knock on Rose, but his performances at TPC Sawgrass have been less than impressive in recent years. The Englishman has only one Top 15 finish in 15 starts, and on the back of four ugly rounds at Bay Hill that saw him finish +5 last week, Rose could be in for another long weekend. Nonetheless, we found out earlier this year just how resilient Rose can be. After tying for 34th at the Desert Classic, he rebounded with a win in the Farmers Insurance Open a week later. Can he do the same again?
Brooks Koepka – $26.00
For the first time in over a decade, the turf at Sawgrass has been reseeded. Experts seem to think that gives distance guys a bit of an edge this weekend, which should suit Koepka nicely. Last year’s US Open winner has endured a fairly up and down start to 2019, finishing runner-up at The Honda Classic before missing the cut last week at Bay Hill. Putting remains a concern for the American, but he’s still been consistent with the irons. It was around this time last year we saw Koepka find form on the way to the Open, so he should be one to watch.
Jon Rahm – $26.00
After starting the year among the favourites in just about every tournament, Rahm’s disappointing performance in Mexico during the World Golf Championships last month was a bit of a letdown. The Spaniard has found trouble on and around the green this year, and unfortunately, his performances at The Players don’t suggest anything is about to change. Rahm has finished outside the Top 50 in two-straight appearances.
Rickie Fowler – $26.00
Fowler knows a thing or two about TPC. He’s among the most experienced players in the field, having won The Players Championship in thrilling playoff fashion back in 2015. It’s surprising to find him at this price considering the American also finished runner-up here back in 2012. On the flip side, however, it’s worth keeping in mind the nature of this course. For all of Fowler’s success, he’s missed the cut five times and also finished outside the Top 50 twice.
Tommy Fleetwood – $26.00
The Englishman is still in search for his first-ever win on the PGA Tour, but the 28-year-old looks to be finding some form as he heads to Sawgrass. Fleetwood finished third last week at Arnie’s Place, while he also finished seventh at The Players last year. Fleetwood ranks 32nd in driving distance so far this year, which should suit him on this weekend’s tricky course. All he needs now is some form with the putter.
Jason Day – $34.00
Day withdrew in the opening round of last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, citing an annular disc tear in his back. It’s been a big week for the Aussie, but the good news is he thinks his back is feeling good ahead of this weekend’s trip to The Players. The scary part of all this is Day has had back troubles before, and it cost him big time in the Playoffs a few years ago. No one would blame you for questioning the 31-year-old’s health, but since he’s won this tournament before, Day deserves some consideration.