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2024 The Players Championship: Preview, Props, Best Bets

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(Photo credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports)

The 50th edition of The Players Championship begins Thursday at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

Often called “the fifth major,” the 144-player field is arguably the strongest of the year outside of the four majors, even minus those who left for LIV Golf. Our golf experts preview the eventand provide their favorite prop picks along with best bets to win this week.

THE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP

Location: Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., March 14-17

Course: TPC Sawgrass (Par 72, 7,275 yards)

Purse: $25M (Winner: $4.5M)

Defending Champion: Scheffler

FedEx Cup Leader: Scheffler

HOW TO FOLLOW

TV: Thursday-Friday, 1-7 p.m. ET (Golf Channel); Saturday, 2-7 p.m. (NBC); Sunday, 1-6 p.m. (NBC)

Streaming (ESPN): Thursday-Friday, 7:30 a.m.-7 p.m. ET; Saturday, 8 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday, 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m.

X: @ThePlayers

PROP PICKS

–Brian Harman to Beat Tony Finau (100 at DraftKings): Harman is coming off a solid T12 at Bay Hill following a string of five starts with no finishes better than a T44. T44 is exactly where he finished in The Players last year before going on to win The Open. Finau finished T19 last year and should be well rested after skipping the Arnold Palmer Invitational. We still like Harman’s ball-striking around the challenging TPC Sawgrass — especially at these odds.

–Wyndham Clark Top 20 (150 at BetMGM): The reigning U.S. Open champion is coming off a runner-up at Bay Hill and won at Pebble Beach earlier this year — both against strong signature event fields. Clark still isn’t getting the love from oddsmakers, but the world’s No. 5-ranked player is back in top form.

–Hole In One on Hole 17 (250 at DraftKings): One of the most famous holes in golf, “the watery grave” always makes for some entertaining prop action. There have only been 13 aces at the 17th hole since The Players moved to TPC Sawgrass in 1982. Three of those came last year and Shane Lowry carded one in 2022. Keep an eye on that front left pin placement — we’re banking on at least one player zipping a short iron back into the cup.

2024 Prop Picks Record: 13-16-1

BEST BETS

–Scottie Scheffler (550 at BetMGM) is coming off a five-shot victory at Bay Hill and also won The Players by five shots last year. His seven PGA Tour wins since 2021-22 are the most of anyone during that span. Scheffler opened the week at 650 but has seen his odds shorten while drawing the most total winning bets (15.4 percent) and money (23.7 percent), making him the book’s biggest liability this week. Scheffler has the same odds at DraftKings, where he has been backed by lopsided action at 28 and 35 percent, respectively.

–Rory McIlroy (1600) missed the cut last year and has an average finish of 34th over his past four appearances. However, he did win in 2019 and was in contention last week until a 76 on Sunday. The world’s No. 2-ranked player opened at 1400 but has seen his odds lengthen slightly despite being second in the field with 6.9 percent of the bets and 8.0 percent of the money.

–Justin Thomas (2300) finished T12 at Bay Hill after going 72-73 over the weekend. The 2021 Players champion has only one finish worse than T12 in his past nine worldwide starts. Thomas is BetMGM’s second-biggest liability this week, having drawn 6.8 and 7.4 percent of the action, respectively.

–Will Zalatoris (2500) spent time atop the leaderboard last week before settling for a T4 after going 72-72 over the weekend. With a T2 in his previous start at the Genesis, it’s clear Zalatoris’ game is rounding back into shape, and he’s the book’s third-biggest liability this week. Zalatoris has longer odds at DraftKings, where he has drawn the second most money with 6 percent at 3000.

–Viktor Hovland (2500) is a darkhorse as he works his way through some swing changes. The reigning FedEx Cup champion has admittedly been frustrated with a lone top-20 in four 2024 starts, and he returned home for a spell to focus on his game. However, the young Norwegian is always a threat and finished T3 last year. He’s fourth in the field with 4 percent of the money backing him to win at 2200 at DraftKings.

–Clark (3400) is a career-best fifth in the world rankings following his runner-up last week. The defending U.S. Open champion also won at Pebble Beach last month. Clark has significantly longer 5000 odds at DraftKings, which has led to 3 percent of the total money backing him to win.

–Shane Lowry (3400) has finished T4 and third the past two weeks.

–Tom Hoge (7100) set the course record with a third-round 62 en route to finishing T3 last year.

NOTES

–This is the 50th playing of the event, which began in 1974, and the 42nd edition at TPC Sawgrass, which became the venue in 1982.

–Scheffler is the first defending champion to arrive at The Players ranked No. 1 in the world since McIlroy in 2020. McIlroy won in 2019 and the event was ultimately canceled the following year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

–There are 22 players in the field making their event debuts this week, including Sweden’s 10th-ranked Ludvig Aberg and Nick Dunlap, who turned pro after winning the American Express in January.

–Tiger Woods, the 2001 and 2013 champion, is not in the field.

–Each of the past four winners of The Players entered the week ranked in the top-10 of the Official World Golf Ranking.

–The three hole-in-ones at the signature 17th hole last year marked the first time there were multiple aces on that hole.

–LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman holds the tournament scoring record of 24-under 264 set in 1994.

–Field Level Media

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