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PGA Power Rankings: Top 5 for The PLAYERS Championship

The PGA Tour will stay in Florida for The PLAYERS Championship from TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course in Ponte Vedra Beach. PGA handicapper Matt MacKay is here with his power rankings ahead of Thursday's opening round.
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PGA Power Rankings: Top 5 for The PLAYERS Championship

The PGA Tour is coming off of quite a pressure-packed Sunday at Bay Hill, where Kurt Kitayama overcame the odds and earned his first outright win on the PGA Tour. It looked like the defending champion, Scottie Scheffler, and a previous Arnold Palmer Invitational winner, Rory McIlroy, were destined to force a sudden-death playoff alongside Kitayama. However, the 30-year-old California native held strong on the last few holes, which included a confident putt to putt Kitayama within an inch of the 18th hole on Sunday, where a par tap-in sealed his one-stroke victory at nine-under-par.

The action and intensity will only escalate heading into The PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass ahead of Thursday's opening round. Located in Ponte Vedra Beach right outside of Jacksonville, Florida, defending champion Cameron Smith will not be able to defend his title due to joining LIV, which means the field is wide open. There has never been a repeat winner at this event. We just saw Kitayama win outright despite having high odds, ranging from 90/1 to 125/1, entering the Arnold Palmer Invitational last weekend. Factor in the hefty $4.5 million purse for the outright winner, along with 600 FedExCup points, and players will be chomping at the bit to wind up at the top of the leaderboard by Sunday evening.

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While this event is technically not a Major, the field and the difficulty of the course will make it feel like one. Weather conditions should hover in the mid-70s with partly cloudy conditions, 10-12 mph winds, and scattered thunderstorms on Friday and Sunday evenings. Last year, the event had to conclude on Monday due to the rain, so hopefully, we'll get a chance to see it conclude on the default four day-schedule from Thursday to Sunday. Here are our picks, predictions, and odds in the form of power rankings ahead of the opening tee times from the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course from Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

The PLAYERS Championship Start Time, Where to Watch, and Odds

  • Date - Thursday, March 9th - Sunday, March 12th, 2023
  • Opening Tee Time - 6:45 a.m. ET - 12:00 p.m. ET
  • Where - TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
  • Where to Watch - ESPN+, Golf Channel, NBC

Click here for the PLAYERS Championship odds

The PLAYERS Championship Odds

GolferOdds
Jon Rahm+850
Rory McIlroy+850
Scottie Scheffler+1000
Patrick Cantlay+1800
Justin Thomas+2000
Max Homa+2000
Xander Schauffele+2500
Viktor Hovland+2500
Tony Finau+2500
Collin Morikawa+2500

The PLAYERS Championship Course

TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course is a par 72 that runs to 7,301 yards. Built-in 1980 under the vision of Pete Dye, a 2016 renovation has kept the course challenging for even the most experienced players in the field. It has its share of par 3 and par 5 holes, distributed evenly, with four on the front nine and the other four on the back nine. There are still water hazards scattered throughout Sawgrass; however, it's not nearly as consistent as Bay Hill. More sand bunkers that extend and wrap from fairways to the greens are a new hazard, but there are still quite a few doglegged fairways that are narrow and lined with tall rough, and tree lines.

The greens remain a small target, and there is the iconic 17th hole, a 145-yard par 3 with the green on an island that juts into a large pond. Holes 16-18 feature a variety pack of pars with varied difficulties baked into their design, which should create another exciting finish once Sunday's final round is underway. Both the fairways and greens are Bermudagrass, as the greens are comprised of the same TifEagle Bermuda surface seen at Bay Hill last weekend. That means fast, choppy putts will be on tap again, so ball striking will remain at a premium on approach shots from the fairway and rough.

The PLAYERS Championship Power Rankings

1. Rory McIlroy (+850) (Bet $100 to collect $950) DraftKings has the best odds; click here to bet

One of the most iconic active golfers on the PGA Tour, Rory McIlroy, looked sharp down the stretch at Bay Hill but couldn't sink the birdie putt to advance to a sudden-death playoff against Kurt Kitayama. The 33-year-old native of Northern Ireland won at TPC Sawgrass in 2019 with a final score of -16-under-par, and he's currently playing with a lot of confidence. While McIlroy had a bit of a downward trend in early February, at least by his standards, he's heating up and entering an event where he's comfortable and confident based on his previous success. Yes, there has never been a two-time winner at this event. Still, there are a lot of stats backing up McIlroy as an outright winner at +850, which is why he's tied as the betting favorite alongside Jon Rahm, so you should feel confident investing in McIlroy as the outright winner at +850.

2. Viktor Hovland (+2500) (Bet $100 to collect $2,600) DraftKings has the best odds; click here to bet

Viktor Hovland blew a few opportunities on Sunday to climb atop the leaderboard at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, but that doesn't mean he should be completely written off. The 25-year-old Norwegian drew a T9 finish at -7-under-par at TPC Sawgrass in 2022, delivering his best rounds on Saturday and Sunday. Hovland ranks first in putting from inside four feet, second in rough proximity, has a powerful driver, and is ranked seventh in strokes gained off-the-tee. He's also proven to be a quality scrambler, showing that he isn't easily fazed by an errant tee or approach shot. At 25/1, Hovland warrants serious consideration as the outright winner in Ponte Vedra next weekend.

3. Max Homa (+2000) (Bet $100 to collect $2,100) DraftKings has the best odds; click here to bet

Max Homa was one of my favorite plays at Bay Hill last weekend, but he couldn't quite figure out his putter in the final few rounds, leaving him well outside the top of the leaderboard. Still, Homa is one of the few players on the PGA Tour who can flip the switch at any given moment, and he's already won two outright events this season. Last year, he delivered a six-under-par round on Sunday to climb into a T13 finish, draining eight birdies and showcasing how good his development has been regarding ball striking and putting. 20/1 is a solid spot to invest in Homa, so if you believe that he can get it done outside of California, which he's done during two of his six career wins, laying an outright bet on the 32-year-old presents good value.

4. Keegan Bradley (+5000) (Bet $100 to collect $5,100) DraftKings has the best odds; click here to bet

Keegan Bradley has flown under the radar in 2023 despite ranking inside of the top five in the FedExCup. Last year at TPC Sawgrass, Bradley choked on the final two holes, going +3 to send him out of contention, so expect revenge to be on his mind once he steps foot on the course during Thursday's opening round. The 36-year-old ranks first in fringe scrambling, 27th in all six strokes gained categories combined, and has a putter that can heat up at a moment's notice. At 50/1, we're getting significant value, plus Bradley has already won an outright event at ZOZO Championship in October. He also recently posted a runner-up finish at the Farmers Insurance Open and has looked stout in the most competitive fields this season, so don't shy away from betting on Bradley to pull off his second outright win of the season at The PLAYERS Championship this weekend.

5. Sepp Straka (+20000) (Bet $100 to collect $20,100) DraftKings has the best odds; click here to bet

Digging into the value barrel, I've found Sepp Straka at 200/1 odds. The 29-year-old Austrian went -7-under-par at TPC Sawgrass in 2022, going three-under-par and five-under-par in the opening and closing rounds to climb into a T9 finish. He earned his only career win at the 2022 Honda Classic and has had a modest start to 2023. Straka has two T10 finishes this year, including a T5 at the Honda Classic a couple of weeks ago, before missing the cut at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. There's a reason we're landing Straka at 200/1 odds, but sprinkling on it is a good way to cover your bases, as we just saw Kitayama mount a monster upset over a talented field at Bay Hill.

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Matt is an avid writer, editor, and researcher. He enjoys analyzing the game within the game which is fantasy sports and sports betting. 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 motivated to create the most accurate and engaging content in the sports betting industry.

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