Golf Bets For This Week – The 2020 Players Championship
The 2020 Players Championship begins on Thursday at TPC Sawgrass. With good weather and easier conditions than last week expected for the ‘5th major’, the top golfers in the world will all be tee’ing it up in Ponte Vedra Beach.
Let’s look at my top 12 bets for matchups, top finishers and surprising potential winners this week. I’ll be betting this whole card at DraftKings, FanDuel and UniBet. By shopping the odds at each sportsbook, I’m able to find a little extra value on some of my favorite bets.
PGA Picks – Head to Head Matchups at The Players Championship
Rickie Fowler vs Patrick Reed – Matchup #1
Despite all the cheating talk, Patrick Reed is marching towards the Masters with 3 2020 top-tens including a win at WGC Mexico. Like an inflatable clown punching bag he bounced back again and again at the impossible Bay Hill last week for a T15.
Rickie Fowler, on the other hand, is not having a great 2020 so-far by his standards. He’s missed two recent cuts at the Honda and Wast Mgmt. He finished 2nd and 1st at these two last year. However he showed some pop at Bay Hill last week. He finished 18th and gained shots across the stat board, including very good Tee to Green Numbers. So while Reed is having the better season, Rickie could be getting his act together in time for the majors.
I like Fowler in this matchup because the course at TPC Sawgrass sets up for what he is doing best. The 200+ long approach game is a crucial stat, in which Rickie ranks 3rd over the last 36 rounds. Reed ranks 144th in 200+ approach and looking at the course flyover makes you realize that the tee shots don’t line up that well for a guy who likes to draw it off the tee. Then there is the putting. Fowler ranks 9th on the PGA Tour in Bermuda putting over the last 50 rounds. Reed is 58th.
Fowler won the Players in 2015, but has struggled at times since including 2 missed cuts a T60 and a T47. Reed has finished T47, T41 and T22 the last 3 years. The recent history points to Reed, but the key stats are on Fowlers side. Let’s take Rickie Fowler to finish better than Patrick Reed for -106 at UniBet PA Sportsbook.
Henrik Stenson vs Sergio Garcia – Matchup #2
I was very very wrong about Stenson last week when I took him as top finisher. He then shot himself in the foot with a 77 on Thursday. Stenson’s putting was absolutely atrocious at Bay Hill, however his score and missed cut might be misleading. Stenson gained more than 3 shots with his approach game on the field, and recovered for a 72 on Friday when many other players were further over par.
Garcia didn’t play last week and he hasn’t played great so-far this year in the US, with two 37th place finishes. His play on the European Tour has been better, but the approach numbers for Garcia on the PGA Tour are not good.
Stenson is the better ball striker right now and has a great approach game. Over the last 36 rounds he is 1st in strokes gained approach vs Garcia’s 114th. Garcia is better of the tee statistically, but remember this is a course where Stenson can rely on his beloved 3-wood and long irons to find fairways. Then he can light it up with a 200+ game that is twice as good as Sergios. Putting? They both suck at that. So, I’m going with Stenson to get it done tee to green and outplay Sergio Garcia for +100 at UniBet PA Sportsbook.
The Players Championship Picks – Top Finishers at TPC Sawgrass
Top 10 Finishers
- Patrick Cantlay (+290 at FanDuel) might actually be the best player on the PGA Tour right now. In fact, he has not finished outside the top-17 since the late summer of 2019 at the Safeway Open (40th) and the Tour Championship (21st). Amazingly, Patrick hasn’t missed a cut since the 2019 Players Championship. Do you think he has forgotten that? Does he seem like a guy who goes easy on himself? No way. Patrick Cantlay is all business and he will likely contend for a win in his 4th go at The Players. I suspect that his skipping the WGC Mexico and other the whole Florida swing thus far means that he has been focusing on TPC Sawgrass and Augusta. The oddsmakers know that Cantlay is a force now, which explains the +2200 number for him to win on a course where he has not broken the top-20.
- Tommy Fleetwood (+300 at DraftKings) as a top-ten is a pick based on course history and value. T41 in 2017, T7 in 2018 and T5 in 2019 shows that Fleetwood has improved at Sawgrass every year. The number on Fleetwood is actually good value here after his missed cut last week. He also lost the Honda the previous week by choking on the final hole that should have put him in a playoff with Sungjae Im. The oddsmakers have given Tommy a little extra juice as a result, and +300 is a good number for a world class guy that looks like a lock for a top finish here. Remember, he’s also had two extra days to practice and rest while others were grinding it out at Bay Hill.
Top 20 Finishers
- Webb Simpson (+175 at DraftKings) for a Top 20 feels like a square bet but i’m making it anyway. I don’t think he can win The Players this year without absolute short game magic. Like in 2018 when he gained 9.4 shots putting and 5 shots around the green. Webb actually won that year while losing strokes on approach to the field. All other TPC winners over the last 5 years averaged 6 strokes-gained in the SGA stat. The announcers made a huge deal that year over caddie Paul Tesori and his course knowledge at Sawgrass. I really do agree that there is something to that. Perhaps Tesori is the difference maker that has kept Webb T16 or better (better being winning the thing) at the Players since 2017. Two top 5s in 2020 are enough for me to feel good about plus money on Webb this week.
- Max Homa (+550 at FanDuel) is a young PGA Tour player who is on the verge of being a household name. So far in 2020 he has made every cut and has three top-tens in events with strong fields. Homa has great approach numbers including gaining 6.3 shots last week at the API. He also has not lost strokes putting since the Amex back on in mid January. Where Max loses shots is typically around the green but the history shows that ARG game is less important at Sawgrass. What matters is hitting the ball close to the hole frequently, and thats what Homa does. He ranks 6th over the last 36 rounds on the PGA tour from 200+ and is inside the top 20 in hitting greens and saving par from the sand. The viral clip of Homa shanking a pitch shot into the camera tower last week and subsequent Twitter trolling will have Max fired up to contend in his Players debut.
- Tom Hoge (+750 at FanDuel) finished 30th last year at The Players after missing almost every other cut in 2019. He’s having a breakout season in 2020 including two top-10s and top 15 or better in 4 out of 7 events. He’s got a great approach game and Bermuda is his best putting surface. 7.5 to 1 is too big of a payout to pass on for a guy with top-ten upside. So, I’ll be ordering my Hoge at FanDuel.
Top Prop Bet of the Week at the Players Championship
There is one prop bet for The Players this week that will trump all the others on the board. So far, i’ve only found this bet available at FanDuel. So what is the Players Championship Props Network Prop Bet of the Week?
If you’ve been reading, then you know that I am a Sungjae Im truther. Last week I tried, and failed, to coin the ‘Im-Plosion’ for what I believe is happening on the PGA Tour right now. Sungjae Im has the game and the focus to contend at every event.
FanDuel Sportsbook offers Top Rest Of The World Player. This is a bet on who will be the top finisher from anywhere in the world that is not Europe or the US. So, the pool includes golfers from Asia, Australia, Canada and South Africa. Sungjae Im is +650 to finish first in this group of 33 players that includes Leishman, Matsuyama, Scott, Day, Oosthuizen, Ancer, EVR, and more.
Im is the hottest player in the whole field, and there are red flags with every single one of the other players in this Rest of the World group. Did you watch Adam Scott last week? Will Jason Day even make it thru two rounds? No statistical explanation is required for this one. I’ll take Sungjae Im at +650 to be the next Top Rest Of the World Player at FanDuel Sportsbook.
The 2020 Honda Classic – Bets On Potential Winners
Of course, Rory McIlroy should win the Players Championship. Everything points to this happening. Well, almost everything. Did you know that in this history of this event since 1974, no player has ever repeated Players Championship winner? Also, have you watched Rory MciIlroy the last few weeks?
His three top-5 finishes in a row are a bit deceiving. Rory, with his abilities, should have won the Genesis, WGC Mexico and the API last week. He does not look confident with his putter and lets easy shots with short irons and wedges get away from him. Rory has actually lost strokes putting in 2 out of the last three events in 2020. The putting numbers are way off from what he did coming into TPC Sawgrass last year.
The Players is all about long approach game, which we know that Rory is the master of. However, you still have to make the pressure putts to win and that’s not the forte for Rory McIlroy right now.
The good thing is that the cost prohibitive numbers on Rory get pricier with every top-5 finish. That only adds value to the rest of the field.
Here are my two best bets to win the Players Championship this year. Remember, my winner picks are not who I think is most likely to win. They are bets on who players that I think can win and also present a good value for betting.
Colin Morikawa (+5000 at DraftKings Sportsbook)
The second year star has yet to miss a cut since becoming a full time PGA Tour player in 2019. Morikawa checks all the boxes to win except putting. There is a big red flag attached to his flat stick and around the greens game. However, we know that short game is just a little less important at Sawgrass. Especially if you can find fairways and excel in proximity to the hole. The 23 year old Morikawa is already perhaps the most proficient ball striker on the PGA Tour. In fact his numbers are similar to Rory’s in all the ball striking stat categories. He is lethal from inside 100 yards and also from 175-200.
I think the winner at The 2020 Players Championship will be a player who crushes par 5s and makes an eagle or two to separate from the stacked field. Morikawa is 1st in eagles gained on the PGA Tour over the last 36 rounds. He is also the 4th ranked overall par-5 player right now. All four par 5s at TPC Sawgrass play under 600 yards, which is where Morikawa has really shown the ability to gain strokes.
The putting is all that is missing from Colin’s game. If he finds it, the top players in the world should be advised.
The world elite golfers have mostly all been underperforming recently, which might open the door for new blood. I’m betting that now is the time for Colin Morikawa to take that step forward.
I’ll back this bet up with a Morikawa Top-20 at DraftKings for +250.
Joel Dahmen (+12500 at DraftKings Sportsbook)
Dahmen rides a hot streak into TPC Sawgrass. This includes back to back top-5 finishes in his last two appearances and a T14 at the Pebble Beach. Dahmen has been lights out tee to green this year and has had flashes of good putting. I love the course setup for him this week, as Joel is very accurate from 200+. He actually ranks 4th in overall proximity during the last 36 rounds. Dahmen has also been one of the better bunker players on tour during that stretch, and he hits a ton of fairways.
It’s also worth noting that he tied for 12th in his Players Championship debut last year.
Sooner or later this Dahmen is going to win, and he’s trending towards doing so now. He walked off the 18th at Bay Hill with a bounce in his step after guaranteeing himself a spot in The Open Championship. That momentum could carry him to a surprise win this week at The Players.
I’ll back the bet up with a Joel Dahmen Top-10 for +1100 at DraftKings.
My PGA Picks from Last Week at The Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Here are how my PGA betting picks did last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. If you bet $10 on each of these 12 picks, you would have won $90 dollars. We can thank Sung Kang for this, as the rest of my picks mostly did not do well.
That is golf betting. All it takes is one good pick on your card to come out ahead. However, we were very very close on Sungjae Im too and I’ll spare you the story of my matchup parlay that went 4/5 due to Jason Day and the WD.
- Ian Poulter over Kevin Na: Push -106 Push
- Jason Day over Brooks Koepka: Lost +100
- Ben An over Colin Morikawa: Lost -110
- Adam Scott Top-10: Lost +225
- Ben An Top 10: Lost +450
- Sung Kang Top 10: Won +1400
- Henrik Stenson Top 20: Lost +180
- Rafa Cabrera Bello Top 20: Lost +350
- Bryson Dechambeau to win: Lost +1600
- Bryson Dechambeau Top-10: Won +200
- Sungjae Im to win: Lost +2000
- Sungjae Im Top-20: Won +100
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