The countdown is on for the PGA’s so-called “5th major”.
We all know that the four Majors are The Open, The U.S. Open, The Masters and The PGA Championship but THE PLAYERS Championship is considered as the 5th and unofficial major tournament in the sport of golf.
THE PLAYERS Championship goes by many names. It is also called The Tournament Player Championship, The Players and TPC Sawgrass. Whichever name you want to call it, THE PLAYERS Championship is currently giving away the highest cash prize of any golf tournament ever and that’s a cool $12.5M, surpassing the $12M prize money of The U.S. Open.
This year’s tournament is the 46 edition of the PLAYERS Championship and it will be held from March 14-17, 2019 at the TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. The tournament winner will also be the first recipient of the new PLAYERS Championship trophy designed by Tiffany & Co.
Jack Nicklaus was the first winner of this tournament and he is also the leader with three victories at the TPC Sawgrass. Tiger Woods, Fred Couples, Hall Sutton and Steve Elkington are the other multiple-time winners of this tournament with two each. Last year, Webb Simpson dominated the field and finished with a final score of 18 under par. Track the The Players Championship live leaderboard.
This year, with a change in schedule and an all-time high purse, the stage is set for what could be one of the most massive fields to head to TPC Sawgrass. Let’s take a look at the early favorites to win THE PLAYERS Championship.
Here are the current odds to win THE PLAYERS Championship 2019. Odds taken from Bovada as of 3/12/19:
|Dustin Johnson||+ 1200|
|Rory McIlroy||+ 1200|
|Justin Thomas||+ 1600|
|Tiger Woods||+ 1800|
|Justin Rose||+ 2000|
|Rickie Fowler||+ 2000|
|Brooks Koepka||+ 2200|
|Bryson Dechambeau||+ 2500|
|Xander Schauffele||+ 2500|
|Jon Rahm||+ 2500|
|Jason Day||+ 3300|
|Jordan Spieth||+ 3300|
|Sergio Garcia||+ 3300|
Who Are The Favorites?
Dustin Johnson is on top of the oddsboard despite the fact that his highest finish ever in this tournament was a T-12. One of the interesting reasons behind that is the change of the tournament’s playing date from May to March. With the seeding of the course in March, the ball is expected to travel less off the bounce which should play to the advantage of the world’s best drivers. Johnson was 6th in 2018 at 314 yards off the tee and is considered one of the best in the world. The World #2 also has three Top 10 finished in four starts including a victory at the WGC-Mexico a couple of week ago.
Had a great time in Myrtle Beach this week for the @MyrtleBeachGolf Hall of Fame ceremony and the opening of my new facility at the @DJGolfSchool. Big thanks to all those that have made all this possible. pic.twitter.com/Fa2L9Skku4
— Dustin Johnson (@DJohnsonPGA) March 1, 2019
Another golfer expected to benefit from the change of date is Brooks Koepka, who’s driving rivals that of Dustin Johnson. The reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year shot an average of 308.9 yards off the tee in this tournament last year, which was ranked second overall that weekend. And not only that, Koepka drove the ball that way despite just recovering from a wrist injury. His wrist is fully healthy now and after a T-2 finish at the just concluded Honda Classic, Koepka is surely one to watch out for as well.
Tiger Woods barely survived the cut after the first two rounds but he finished strong with a 65 in round three and a 69 in the final round to finish T-11 on the scoreboard. Ten months to that performance, Tiger returns to THE PLAYERS hoping to tie Jack Nicklaus’ record of three victories in the tournament.
Rickie Fowler’s not found success here the last three years. He didn’t make the cut in 2016 and 2018 plus he finished T-60 in 2017. Despite that, his dramatic victory at THE PLAYERS 2015 is still fresh in our minds. Fowler won the Waste Management Phoenix Open at the start of February and then finished a T-2 in the recent Honda Classic. With momentum on his side, Fowler is another one worth the odds.
Webb Simpson’s mastery at the TPC Sawgrass last year was simply amazing. His score of -18 was the best at THE PLAYERS in two decades. His score of 63 in the second round tied the course’s all-time record. Simpson also entered the final round with a seven stroke lead, the largest lead ever at the Sawgrass entering Sunday. However, no golfer has repeated as champion at THE PLAYERS in its 45-year history so the odds are stacked against Simpson. If there’s someone who can beat those odds though, it’s got to be Webb Simpson who simply tamed Sawgrass in 2018.
It’s still too early to tell really who is going to win but I like Dustin Johnson here. No, I am not a fan of settling for the odds on favorite but given his recent form and the change in course conditions, DJ has the advantage because of his style of play. Johnson is one of the best players in the world and I think he’s going to prove that in this tournament.
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