Videos by OutKick
The PGA Tour’s “5th major” — THE PLAYERS Championship 2023 — tees of Thursday-Sunday, March 9-12 at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
This is the 5th of the PGA Tour’s newly created “elevated events” with a $25 million prize pool and the winner bringing home $4.5 million.
Now-world No. 19 Kurt Kitayama out-lasted an elevated-event field to win last week’s 2023 Arnold Palmer Invitational by one stroke.
The API was my 3rd straight losing event. My 2022-23 PGA Tour balance fell to +11.66 units (u) after a -5.85u performance. The grading of my 2023 Arnold Palmer Invitational bet slip is at the bottom.
Earlier this week, I introduced the opening odds for the THE 2023 PLAYERS Championship with a brief event preview and course breakdown of TPC Sawgrass.
DraftKings Sportsbook is offering a cool promotion where you can get a +250 odds boost onto any golfer to win THE PLAYERS Championship 2023 ($50 maximum bet).
THE PLAYERS Championship key stats
- Strokes Gained (SG): Approach (APP).
- SG: Around-the-Green (ARG).
- Total SG at Pete Dye-designed courses.
- SG: Putting on Bermuda greens (over the last 24 rounds).
- SG: Ball-Striking (BS).
- Par 4 scoring.
- Par 5 scoring.
- Proximity (PROX): 75-150 (a lot of short irons).
- Greens-in-Regulation (GIRs) Gained.
- 3-Putt Avoidance.
- Bogey Avoidance.
- SG: Tee-to-Green (T2G).
THE PLAYERS ‘Starting 5’
- All stats are provided by FantasyNational.com unless noted.
J-Day was the only golfer that came through for me at last week’s 2023 Arnold Palmer Invitational. Day finished T10 at the API by hitting a 30-foot putt to save par in the 72nd hole.
No one could hit at putt on No. 18 at Bay Hill last week. Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, and Viktor Hovland all missed putts on 18 at the 2023 Arnold Palmer while in contention.
But, Day is on-fire currently and, when he’s on, J-Day has one of the best short games on the planet. Day has picked up strokes on the greens at TPC Sawgrass in eight of his past 10 PLAYERS.
He has finished T18 or better in five straight events and T10 or better in four straight. J-Day is +9.7 total SG over his last five events, +4.4 SG: T2G, and +4.6 SG: Putting.
Day looks like he’s reaching his 2016-form when he won Arnold Palmer Invitational and THE PLAYERS Championship and finished 2nd in the 2016 PGA Championship.
The market is noticing Day’s improved form but he’s still going for a good price. Day is tied for the 9th-best odds to win THE PLAYERS but should be 6th according to my numbers.
J-Day has the 9th-best course history in this field, ranks 13th in SG at Pete Dye-designed courses, and 7th in SG: Putting on firm and fast or lightning greens.
These are the best odds I found and bet for Jason Day:
- Win: (0.25u: +3000)
- Top-5: (0.25u: +600)
- Top-10: (0.5u: +280)
- Top-20: (0.75u: +135)
This is a buy-low spot after Zalatoris barely mad the cut at last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational and was never in contention. Also, there are questions surrounding Zalatoris’ health.
However, Zalatoris put all those questions to bed when he finished 4th at the 2023 Genesis Invitational and picked up strokes in the five most important metrics in golf.
Zalatoris is 7th in my key stats model over the last 50 rounds. He is 6th in this field for Par 5 scoring, 9th in SG: APP, 4th in SG: T2G, 6th in GIRs Gained, and 4th in SG: BS.
In his first two PLAYERS, Zalatoris is 10th in total SG with nearly +7.0 SG: T2G in each, 1st in Good Drives Gained, and 7th in GIRs Gained. His weakness with the putter is largely overstated as well.
Zalatoris is 21st in this field for 3-Putt Avoidance, 34th in SG: Putting on Bermuda, and gained strokes on the greens in six straight events before losing strokes putting at the Arnold Palmer last week.
If Zalatoris is healthy, we are getting a great price. He has the 12th-best odds to win THE PLAYERS but 8th in the Official World Golf Rankings and 2nd in my PLAYERS power rankings.
These are the best odds I found and bet for Will Zalatoris:
- Win: (0.25u: +3500)
- Top-5: (0.25u: +650)
- Top-10: (0.25u: +320)
- Top-20: (0.75u: +150)
Bradley is playing better now than this time last year when he finished 5th at THE PLAYERS. He’s placed T10 or better in four of his nine events this season with a win at the 2020 ZOZO Championship in October, which I cashed on.
Entering THE PLAYERS in 2022, Bradley didn’t finish in the top-10 once. Bradley was T11 at the 2022 Arnold Palmer Invitational but T10 at last week’s API.
Furthermore, THE PLAYERS is the one “elevated events” with a weaker field that last year’s tourney. Three of the four golfers that finished ahead of Bradley at last year’s PLAYERS went to the LIV Tour.
Bradley is 5th in this field for total SG at TPC Sawgrass over that last five PLAYERS. He is the best ball striker at TPC Sawgrass since THE PLAYERS moved to March from May in 2019.
Keegan is 8th in Par 4 EFF: 450-400 (there are five Par 4s within that yardage), 2nd in SG: T2G, 10th in GIRs gained, 2nd in opportunities gained, and 9th in Scrambling in the last three PLAYERS.
His 2nd-biggest weakness at TPC Sawgrass is 3-Putt Avoidance where he ranks 95th in this field. But, over the past 36 rounds, Bradley ranks 3rd in this field for 3-Putt Avoidance.
These are the best odds I found and bet for Keegan Bradley:
- Win: (0.25u: +5000)
- Top-5: (0.25u: +1000)
- Top-10: (0.25u: +450)
- Top-20: (0.75u: +210)
This is a simple value-played based on Matsuyama’s ceiling and not his current form. Matsuyama has missed two straight cuts and has one top-10 finish this season at the 2023 Farmers Insurance Open.
But, Matsuyama held a 2-stroke lead at the 2020 PLAYERS that was canceled before the 2nd round due to the COVID pandemic. Matsuyama tied the PLAYERS record for the lowest round at 63.
Over his last 24 rounds at TPC Sawgrass, Matsuyama ranks 7th in my key stats model. Hideki is 1st in this field for SG: APP and BS, 7th in SG: T2G, 1st in Bogey Avoidance, 2nd in PROX: 100-150.
Matsuyama is priced below Keith Mitchell and Corey Conners who have a combined two PGA Tour wins. Hideki won an event last season, is an 8-time PGA Tour winner and the 2021 Masters champion.
These are the best odds I found and bet for Hideki Matsuyama:
- Win: (0.2u: +7000)
- Top-10: (0.2u: +600)
- Top-20: (0.6u: +260)
This is my random, funsies longshot bomb of THE PLAYERS. Griffin is one of the hottest rookies on the PGA TOUR 2022-23, 14th in my PLAYERS power rankings and 19th in my key stats model.
Griffin is 25th in total SG over the last 24 rounds, 16th in SG: Putting on Bermuda greens, and finished 4th at the 2022 Wyndham Championship, which is played at a comp course to TPC Sawgrass.
There is an above-average rate of approach shots from 75-150 yards out at TPC Sawgrass. Griffin ranks 13th in this field for PROX: 100-125, 6th in PROX: 125-150, and 33rd in PROX: 75-100.
These are the best odds I found and bet for Ben Griffin:
- Win: (0.125u: +30000)
- Top-10: (0.125u: +1600)
- Top-20: (0.5u: +650)
THE PLAYERS Head-to-Heads
- All odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook
Tony Finau (1u: -110) > Tyrrell Hatton
Finau is 4th in my PLAYERS power rankings and 2nd in my key stats model. Whereas Hatton is 15th in my PLAYERS power rankings and 18th according to my numbers.
Hatton ranks 89th in this field for 129th in PROX: 75-100, 89th in PROX 100-125, and 129th in PROX: 125-150. There are more approach shots in those yardage buckets than the PGA Tour average.
Finau is 22nd in PROX: 75-100, 26th in PROX: 100-125, and 12th in PROX: 125-150. He is the 3rd-best ball striker in this field, 1st in SG: APP, 1st in GIRs Gained, and 1st in Par 4 EFF: 450-500.
Russell Henley (1u: -120) > Billy Horschel
Henley almost made my “starting 5” because of his elite play with short irons. He is 10th in PROX: 75-100, 7th in PROX: 100-125, and 1st in PROX: 125-150.
What kept me off of betting Henley to win or place is his recent form. Henley ranks 88th in this field for total SG over the last 24 rounds but Horschel is just 97th.
Horschel is 86th in PLAYERS key stats model and 118th in SG: BS. While Henley is 20th in my PLAYERS’ numbers and 27th in this field for SG: BS.
Henley is a notoriously terrible putter but his best putting surface is Bermuda and he picked up 2.3 strokes on the greens at last year’s PLAYERS.
THE PLAYERS Championship Bet Slip
- Jason Day: Win, Top-5, Top-10 & Top-20 (1.75u)
- Will Zalatoris: Win, Top-5, Top-10 & Top-20 (1.5u)
- Keegan Bradley: Win, Top-5, Top-10 & Top-20 (1.5u)
- Hideki Matsuyama: Win, Top-10 & Top-20 (1u)
- Ben Griffin: Win, Top-10 & Top-20 (0.75u)
- Tony Finau (1u: -110) > Tyrrell Hatton
- Russell Henley (1u: -120) > Billy Horschel
2023 Arnold Palmer Invitational Recap (-5.85 units)
- Jason Day, T10: Top-10 (+0.9)💰
- Losses: Win & Top-5
- Rory McIlroy > Jon Rahm (+1u) 💰
- Keith Mitchell > Rickie Fowler in Round 3 👔
- Max Homa, T14: Win, Top-5, & Top-10 (-1.5u) ❌
- Collin Morikawa missed the cut: Win, Top-5, & Top-10 (-1.5u) ❌
- Sam Burns missed the cut: Win, Top-5, Top-10 & Top-20 (-1.25u) ❌
- Sungjae Im, T21: Win, Top-5, & Top-10 (-1.25u) ❌
- Thomas Detry added via Twitter, T24: Win & Top-20 (-0.5u) ❌
- Matthew Fitzpatrick added after Round 2, T14: Win & Top-5 (-0.75u) ❌
- Tommy Fleetwood > Cameron Young (-1u) ❌
Check out the Hot Links golf gambling show hosted by Geoff Clark on the OutKick Bets podcast feed. New episodes drop Tuesdays for all full-field PGA Tour events in the 2022-23 season.
FOLLOW GEOFF ON TWITTER: @Geoffery_Clark
Listen to the ‘OutKick Bets with Geoff Clark’ podcast HERE.
PointsBet Sportsbook users can make their first bets risk-free up to $2,000. If the bet loses, PointsBet will refund you in site credit. New users can lock in this offer NOW by clicking this link.
First-time DraftKings users can get up to a $1,000 deposit bonus and receive a 20% first deposit match up to $1,000 when they sign up. New users can lock in this offer NOW by clicking this link.