The Players Championship

Players Championship Odds 2014: Betting Advice for Latest Vegas Lines

CHARLOTTE, NC - MAY 02:  Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland hits his tee shot on the 2nd hole during the second round of the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club on May 2, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIIMay 7, 2014

Betting on golf is a risky proposition because consistency is as hard to project in this sport as any other. The 2014 Players Championship is stocked with so many of the game's elite that even the longest shots can rise to the occasion and claim victory in one of the biggest events on the PGA Tour.

Parity is a prominent theme at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, evident in the fact that Tiger Woods won last year's tournament and became just the fifth golfer to win it more than once since its 1974 inception.

With all of that established, Odds Shark has Rory McIlroy as the odds-on favorite, listing the Northern Irish superstar at 12-1.

The next three in line behind him are Adam Scott (14-1), Matt Kuchar (18-1) and Sergio Garcia (20-1). They have all won The Players before, so the betting powers that be in Las Vegas don't seem to be taking into account how difficult it is to triumph multiple times in their projections for the outright winner.

Bear that in mind when you read on about some of the favorites who shouldn't be counted on, players with longer odds who should be better wagers and the best gambles in this week's field.

Note: Odds are courtesy of Odds Shark and are current as of Tuesday, May 6 at 8 p.m. All statistics were obtained from PGATour.com.

2014 Players Championship Odds
Golfer Odds
Rory McIlroy12-1
Adam Scott14-1
Matt Kuchar18-1
Sergio Garcia20-1
Justin Rose22-1
Luke Donald22-1
Henrik Stenson25-1
Phil Mickelson 25-1
Bubba Watson28-1
Jim Furyk 28-1
Jordan Spieth28-1
Lee Westwood33-1
Zach Johnson33-1
Dustin Johnson40-1
Charl Schwartzel50-1
Graham DeLaet50-1
Jimmy Walker50-1
Keegan Bradley50-1
Rickie Fowler 50-1
J.B. Holmes 50-1
Harris English55-1
Brandt Snedeker66-1
Graeme McDowell66-1
Hunter Mahan66-1
Ian Poulter66-1
Jason Dufner66-1
Ken Duke66-1
Kevin Na66-1
Martin Laird66-1
Patrick Reed66-1
Ryan Moore66-1
Webb Simpson66-1
Bill Haas80-1
Hideki Matsuyama80-1
Kevin Streelman80-1
Louis Oosthuizen80-1
Martin Kaymer80-1
Ryan Palmer80-1
Steve Stricker80-1
Source: OddsShark.com. Complete field odds available there.

 

Favorites to Avoid

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 13:  Adam Scott of Australia shakes hands with Bubba Watson of the United States after Watson won the 2014 Masters Tournament by a three-stroke margin at Augusta National Golf Club on April 13, 2014 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Harr
Harry How/Getty Images

The past two Masters champions in Scott and Bubba Watson have taken a break from competition since the first major of the seasonand rightly so, especially in Watson's case. "Bubba Golf" once again took Augusta National by storm as Watson waltzed to a comfortable win and a second green jacket in three years.

However, coming back to this event and performing well is a tall order for both Scott and Watson. It would take an extraordinary effort for either world-class golfer to ramp up his competitive juices and heighten his focus to contend, much less win.

It's hard to imagine Watson faring well as it is. He hasn't finished better than 37th in his career, as he alluded to in a pre-Players press conference:

Scott has the chance to overtake Woods for the No. 1 spot in the world rankings, which provides plenty of incentive to raise his game and get it going. It's just hard to count on someone as shaky as Scott on the greens in such a big tournament and after a post-Masters hiatus.

The Aussie could easily finish in the top 25, but expecting him to win at 14-1 is a little unrealistic given the circumstances.

 

Dark Horses to Wager On

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 06:  Rickie Fowler of the USA in action during a practice round ahead of THE PLAYERS Championship on The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on May 6, 2014 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

On the surface, Rickie Fowler's tie for the 38th at last week's Wells Fargo Championship isn't so impressive. What stands out most is his final-round 67, which shot him 24 spots up the leaderboard.

Given how things have gone for the young American as of late, he could have thrown in the towel. Instead, Fowler ground his way around Quail Hollow and posted a respectable score to close out. Now, he's a 50-1 shot in Ponte Vedra Beach.

According to PGATour.com, Fowler has the fifth-best scoring average at TPC Sawgrass among players in the field with a minimum of eight rounds played. (Fowler has logged 10 rounds.)

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 06:  Martin Kaymer of Germany in action during a practice round ahead of THE PLAYERS Championship on The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on May 6, 2014 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Another player to keep an eye on is Martin Kaymer—perhaps the most forgotten No. 1-ranked player in the world in recent memory. Kaymer won 10 times on the European Tour, counting his 2010 PGA Championship triumph, between 2008 and 2011. Since then, he's struggled, but this course fits his eye.

Randall Mell of Golf Channel reported what Kaymer had to say about his swing, which he's tried to rebuild over the past few years: "It’s improved a lot. I can hit any shape now. There are no restrictions anymore. Before, I could only hit the fade, and that was it. It was a very safe, secure swing, but you have to hit different tee shots, especially here [at Quail Hollow]. It’s a lot better than two or three years ago."

Now that Kaymer's swing is in better order, he may be on the cusp of something big. A disappointing weekend at the Wells Fargo Championship aside, there are few better Players Championship bargains at 80-1 than Kaymer.

With twice the rounds Fowler has played at this tournament, the German has a 71.35 stroke average, good for fourth in the aforementioned scoring average at this venue.

 

Best Bets and Predicted Winner

Stephen B. Morton/Associated Press

At some point, McIlroy has to put it all together. With mostly peerless play from tee to green, it's his short game that's prevented him from winning a PGA Tour event since the 2012 BMW Championship.

Counting out Kuchar doesn't seem like a sage decision given that he won the last time he teed it up in the RBC Heritage and finished in the top five in the three marquee tournaments prior. Kuchar could be due for a down week, but he's showing no signs of slowing down.

Don't sleep on Jordan Spieth, the 20-year-old who led on the front nine of Masters Sunday before Watson proceeded to outplay him down the stretch. Spieth is a 28-1 shot and is gaining the respect of oddsmakers with his consistency and precocious poise under massive pressure.

A duel between McIlroy and Spieth would be phenomenal, and renowned swing instructor Hank Haney has weighed in on who has the brighter future:

It seems that Spieth is a bit steadier in terms of an all-around game, while McIlroy is more dynamic and has more explosiveness in terms of power off the tee and making birdies. A showdown at the Stadium Course would be wonderful for golf.

As for the best bet as a winner, look to Luke Donald at 22-1. Having finished in the top 20 in his last three Players appearances, Donald figures to be due for a trip to the winner's circle.

The Englishman is among the best players never to have won a major, and he's been tweaking his swing in an effort to change that, with no results as of yet. Winning golf's so-called "fifth major" in The Players Championship would springboard him forward and get him back to the level he was at when he was No. 1 in the world just a couple of years ago.

In terms of value on a bet, the sturdiness of his short game and a runner-up finish at the RBC Heritage in his last start, no one presents a better combination of all the elements to thrive at TPC Sawgrass than Donald. Everyone at The Players could use some momentum ahead of next month's U.S. Open, but Donald needs a boost more than just about anyone given his lackluster track record at the majors.

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