During the 2023 golf season, Stadium sports betting analyst Nate Jacobson will share his betting targets each week. Here are his thoughts on this week’s THE PLAYERS Championship.
Note: Nate will tweet out his official bets when they are placed before the event. He also discusses his bets in all sports on the Sharp Lessons podcast. Subscribe on Spotify and Apple for episodes and follow Stadium Bets on Twitter for more sports betting content.
About the Tournament
The PGA TOUR continues their “Florida Swing” in Jacksonville for THE PLAYERS Championship. The event is commonly referred to as the “fifth major” and is very lucrative with a $25 million purse.
TPC Sawgrass is the course for this event, and it’s a short track that gives many players a chance to win the tournament. It was designed by legendary golf course architect Pete Dye with a lot of water like we’ve seen the last two weeks in Florida. The water makes this course more volatile and harder to predict.
I personally don’t put as much weight into course history for THE PLAYERS as other events. The tournament was moved from May to March in 2019, and the course is in different shape since it was moved up in the calendar by two months. Because last year’s event was ravaged by bad weather, I won’t shy away from players who didn’t make the cut in ’22. All of the above factors for this event will lead me to wagering less money before the tourney so that I have room for a potential in-tournament bet.
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Top of the Board
Jon Rahm (9/1), Rory McIlroy (9/1) and Scottie Scheffler (11/1) have occupied the top three spots in the oddsboard for the elevated events over the last month, which is the case again this week. Scheffler and Rahm won in back-to-back weeks in February while McIlroy finished tied for second this past week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. It’s hard to place a bet on any of these three at their prices because of the variance at Sawgrass.
Right after the Arnold Palmer Invitational concluded on Sunday I bet on Patrick Cantlay to win this event at 24/1 with anticipation that his odds would shorten when numbers were refreshed on Monday morning. Cantlay is now priced at 18/1, which would still be a price I would wager on.
I bet on him three weeks ago at the Genesis Invitational when he finished third, and he collected a tied-for-fourth-place showing at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. That performance on a Florida course was encouraging going into this event because it was the first time Cantlay played at Bay Hill in Orlando. Cantlay has historically played well at Pete Dye courses, including past strong showings at the RBC Heritage and Travelers Championship.
Collin Morikawa (25/1) is a player I like betting off missed cuts. He has a history of bouncing back, and we just saw it at the Genesis Invitational for three rounds after his missed the cut at the WM Phoenix Open. I also bet on Morikawa that week, along with Cantlay, and he was in a decent position before a third-round 72 took him out of realistic contention before he climbed back to sixth place in the final round. Morikawa missed the cut in Orlando last week, and that keeps his odds at a reasonable price for this week. Morikawa has won in Florida before and his iron play should be able to thrive at this type of course.
I’ll give an edge to Sungjae Im (33/1) over other considerations in this range in Matt Fitzpatrick, Jason Day and Tom Kim. Im will be playing his fifth straight week dating back to the WM Phoenix Open, and he was one of the only elite players who teed it up at the Honda Classic in Florida (an event he won in 2020). Im has shown in the past that playing this much golf doesn’t impact him. He has had success at short courses and has two top-six finishes in 2023.
I will keep a close eye on Fitzpatrick, Day and Kim in hopes that I can add one of them live at better prices after the tournament begins.
Kurt Kitayama gave hope for longshots in these loaded events when he outdueled the likes of McIlroy, Scheffler and Viktor Hovland to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational at 200/1 on Sunday. Longshots have had success at this course in the past and several stand out this week.
Wyndham Clark (125/1) finished second in strokes gained approach at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He has consistently made the cut in tournaments this year, highlighted by a top-10 finish at the WM Phoenix Open.
Emiliano Grillo (200/1) led the Arnold Palmer Invitational in strokes gained tee to green, but finished in 39th place because he was the worst putter in the field over four rounds. I’ll bet on him at long odds and hope he improves with his flatstick.
Will Gordon (350/1) is my final look at deep odds. Gordon posted rounds of 73 and 72 to make the cut last week. Then he shot a 12-over 84 in a disastrous Saturday round before closing with a 69 on Sunday. Gordon is a player I have bet a few times this season and had a run early in his career at the Travelers Championship at the Pete Dye-designed TPC River Highlands in June 2020.