2023 The Players Championship Odds and Betting Preview

Matt MacKay breaks down the Players Championship. Read on to see who he has his eye on for the 2023 Players Championship.

Max Homa hits a shot for the 12th tee at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

We’ve got another exciting PGA event in Florida following Kurt Kitayama successfully defending his one-stroke lead against Scottie Scheffler and Rory McIlroy on the 18th hole at the Arnold Palmer Invitational from Bay Hill Club & Lodge on Sunday. The Players Championship is not a major, but it will have similar energy and difficulty levels that we saw during the Arnold Palmer Invitational. The winning amount has been elevated to $4.5 million out of the $25 million purse, while 600 FedExCup points will also be awarded to the outright winner at the 2023 Players Championship. 

There has been a lot redder in players’ scorecards in past events at TPC Sawgrass’ Stadium Course, which is the site of The Players Championship, held at Ponte Vedra Beach on the coastal shores of Jacksonville, Florida. All five of the recent champions logged at least 10-under-par or lower, which would’ve beat Kitayama’s final score of nine-under-par at Bay Hill. Despite more birdie opportunities, TPC Sawgrass has plenty of water hazards, elongated sand bunkers, and narrow doglegged fairways that will create difficult lies and test players’ scrambling ability.

Oddsmakers currently have Rory McIlroy as the outright betting favorite at +850, with Jon Rahm not far behind at +900. Rahm has never won at TPC Sawgrass, while McIlroy secured an outright win at -16-under-par in 2019. It’s important to note that no player has ever won The Players Championship twice, so adjust your betting investments accordingly ahead of Thursday’s opening round. It’s another loaded field with plenty of firepower, so expect the leaderboard to change throughout the four days spent competing in Jacksonville constantly. Defending champion Cam Smith will not be able to compete since he joined LIV after a dominant performance on the PGA Tour last season, which technically makes Justin Thomas the most recent active PGA Tour member with an outright win at this event. 

Let’s look at the top-ten betting odds, course layout, and a few players who possess the experience, skill set, and confidence to win outright ahead of Thursday’s opening round at The Players Championship.

The Players Championship Betting Odds

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Rory McIlroy+850
Jon Rahm+900
Scottie Scheffler+1000
Patrick Cantlay+1600
Justin Thomas+2000
Max Homa+2000
Collin Morikawa+2200
Viktor Hovland+2500
Tony Finau+2500
Xander Schauffele+2500

Initially, opening lines favored Rahm slightly above McIlroy, but that has since changed, with the 33-year-old Northern Ireland native holding a slight lead at +850 for an outright winner. Quite a few of the players in the top ten outright winner odds struggled at this event in 2022, including Jon Rahm (T55), Collin Morikawa (MC), Scottie Scheffler (T55), and Patrick Cantlay (MC) all performed poorly, so there should be plenty of motivation for them to ascend the leaderboard in Ponte Vedra Beach this weekend.

Viktor Hovland had a great outing in 2022, drawing a T9 finish (-7), while Max Homa (T13/-6) and Justin Thomas (T33/-3) round out current players in the outright top ten with solid success at TPC Sawgrass in 2022. Tony Finau and Xander Schauffele both missed the cut alongside Cantlay and Morikawa, which means there is a lot of good value to dig up deeper in the 2023 odds slate. Kitayama’s win in a packed field at a difficult course last weekend proved that players with fewer accolades could beat seasoned veterans playing with maximum confidence, as pressure often breaks even the most talented players on Sunday afternoon. 

Let’s explore the course layout more, along with previous winners, relevant betting stats, and a few of my favorite golfers to bet on as outright winners ahead of The Players Championship. 

The Players Championship Betting Preview

Previous Winners

  • 2022 - Cam Smith (-13)
  • 2021 - Justin Thomas (-14)
  • 2020 - Cancelled
  • 2019 - Rory McIlroy (-16)
  • 2018 - Webb Simpson (-18)
  • 2017 - Si Woo Kim (-10)

Relevant Betting Stats

  • Scrambling
  • Driving Accuracy
  • Strokes Gained Off-the-Tee
  • Strokes Gained Putting
  • Sand Save percentage

Course Layout

TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course is a par 72 that tips just over 7,300 yards. Designed back in 1980 by legendary golf architect Pete Dye, recent renovations in 2016 have made the course run even longer, which includes the par 5 on the 9th hole, which may stretch all the way up to 600 yards this season. Hole 17 is an iconic par 3 that has the green located on an island 145 yards from the tee box that will surely claim a few water shots throughout the four rounds.

The fairways are comprised of Celebration Bermudagrass, while the greens, which are relatively small in their square footage area, will continue to run fast due to the TifEagle Bermudagrass. It’s the same putting surface that players dealt with at Bay Hill, with putting velocity running over 13 feet, creating additional challenges once the narrow, doglegged fairways are conquered. Sand bunkers abound as they typically do on Florida courses but they are a bit unique, flanking entire greens with one massive bunker instead of several circular hazards. Sand save percentage will go a long way toward players’ successfully scrambling and preserving par or better on their scorecard.

Top Players to Bet for Outright Winner at The Players Championship

Rory McIlroy (+850) (Bet $100 to collect $950) Get the best odds for this pick at FanDuel

Yes, it’s true, no one has ever won more than once at The Players Championship, but should we let that stop us from betting on one of the best golfers on the PGA Tour? Absolutely not. 33-year-old Rory McIlroy overcame a sluggish start at Bay Hill and nearly pushed Kitayama to a sudden-death playoff, failing to convert a 16-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole on Sunday. McIlroy had one of the lower scorecards out of any recent outright winner, going -16-under-par back in 2019. He’s won an event already this season, albeit back in October, and looked much more confident with his irons and putter at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, erasing perceptions of mediocrity following consecutive T32 and T29 finishes earlier in February. 

McIlroy ranks first in strokes gained tee-to-green, first in driving distance, and most importantly, has plenty of confidence at a course where he’s won before. +850 is great odds in a vacuum, especially for the frontrunner in a PGA Tour event, so investing in McIlroy is a good decision to make ahead of Thursday’s opening round. 

Patrick Cantlay (+1600) (Bet $100 to collect $1,700) Get the best Patrick Cantlay odds at DraftKings

Patrick Cantlay feels like he’s inching closer to his first outright win of 2023. He nearly mounted an epic comeback on Sunday at Bay Hill, failing to convert an eagle putt off the fringe to pull within one stroke of Kitayama, relying on accurate irons and a quality putter to keep him ahead of schedule. The 30-year-old California native ranks first in par 4 scorings, putting from three feet and scrambling from the fringe. 

A powerful, accurate driver, paired with premium ball striking, makes Cantlay a sneaky play to win outright at 16/1 odds, despite missing the cut here in 2022 and 2021. He has only fallen outside of the T25 twice in six events played, logging consecutive T5 finishes entering Thursday’s opening round at TPC Sawgrass, so take the risk and lay a unit or two on a proven winner like Cantlay.

Max Homa (+2000) (Bet $100 to collect $2,100) Head to BetMGM for the best Max Homa odds

It was a disappointing weekend in Orlando for Max Homa, who started off red-hot in multiple rounds but wound up fading into the background with numerous bogeys and missed birdie putts. The 32-year-old native of California is known for performing better in his home state than at other courses like TPC Sawgrass. Still, he’s been solid at The PLAYERS Championship in recent appearances, previously going T17 in 2022 after missing the cut in his debut in 2021. 

Homa does so many things well, including sinking birdies on difficult par 3s, while ranking second in total strokes gained, which means he’s dialed in with his irons and putter. Ranked seventh in scrambling and one-putt percentage, Homa is a quality player to bet on at 20/1 odds during the 2023 Players Championship.

Keegan Bradley (+5000) (Bet $100 to collect $5,100) Go to BetMGM for the best odds for this pick

We’re sinking our teeth into a high value with a realistic chance to deliver an outright win. Keegan Bradley has already won one event back in October at ZOZO and just delivered a -5-under-par finish in the fourth round at Bay Hill to remind us of how skilled his irons and putter can be when he’s playing with maximum confidence. 

The 36-year-old has five outright wins in his career and is currently ranked third in the FedExCup standings, logging four T10 finishes in nine events this season. Last year, Bradley logged a fifth-place finish at TPC Sawgrass, building upon a T29 finish in 2021 while reaching a T16 finish in 2019. 50/1 is monstrous value to acquire for a player with so much success at this course, so sprinkle a unit on Bradley’s upside at a course that he typically dominates. 

Keith Mitchell (+5500) (Bet $100 to collect $5,600) Go to DraftKings for the best Keith Mitchell odds

We’ve seen Keith Mitchell come close to securing his first outright win of the 2023 season, but he hasn’t quite pieced it all together yet. The 31-year-old only has one outright win in his nine-year career back at The Honda Classic in 2019, so he’s comfortable playing Florida courses with plenty of water and sand hazards. Mitchell drew a T13 (-6) finish at TPC Sawgrass last season, improving from a missed cut in 2021 while earning a T47 finish during his debut in 2019. 

Mitchell is ranked first in strokes gained off-the-tee, total driving, and fifth in consecutive sand saves, which will all work in his favor when competing against a stacked field this weekend. He has two T5 finishes in his past four events while sneaking inside the top 25 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last weekend, so Mitchell is a player with a lot of appeals at this number heading into The Players Championship. 

Matt MacKay

Matt MacKay is an avid writer, editor, and researcher. He enjoys analyzing the game from a fantasy sports and sports betting perspective. Music is another constant in his daily life. Matt loves spending time with his wife and three pets. He likes to read, listen to podcasts, and is constantly aiming to create the most accurate and engaging content in the sports betting industry.