An eye-popping $10 million purse and 600 FedEx Cup points are on the line beginning Thursday at The Players Championship at Sawgrass' Stadium Course in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, where some of golf's most notable names will duke it out for the top spots on the leaderboard.
A bridge between the Masters and U.S. Open, TPC acts as a way for golf's top players to tune up for bigger tournaments or get back on track.
Odds are out and suggest that once again the field will be ripe with parity, especially with Tiger Woods still out of action. Rory McIlroy leads all at 12-1 odds, and while he's a safe bet, those in search of a better payout may want to look at contenders a bit further down the list.
OddsShark.com. Complete field odds available there.
Adam Scott (14-1)
It is all about circumstance when it comes to Adam Scott.
On one hand, there is a lot to like, as the allure of taking the No. 1 spot in the world with Woods on the sideline has to motivate Scott. Although the thought of staying home and earning the ranking had a certain allure to it, too, as captured humorously by Golf Central:
“See you later, guys” – Adam Scott (jokingly) when told if he would've stayed home he would've become world No. 1 pic.twitter.com/yFGyKeo3PH— Golf Central (@GolfCentral) May 7, 2014
But it has been 10 years since Scott took home the top prize at TPC. That victory didn't translate into bigger success for Scott, although he has turned things around in recent years and took home the green jacket at the Masters in 2013.
At this stage, bettors can spend their cash in a smarter manner. The payout isn't large enough to justify the risk with Scott, who has imploded in the past for years at a time.
Matt Kuchar (18-1)
Another former champion at the Players, Matt Kuchar sounds excited to also be in the mix for the No. 1 slot, per George Savaricas of the Golf Channel:
Matt Kuchar on possibly becoming #1 "it's a cool thing about the game of golf at the moment...it's cool to have that chance right now."— George Savaricas (@GeorgeSavaricas) May 7, 2014
Kuchar seems a safe bet considering he took home the top prize at this very tournament in 2012, but one has to look at the entire historical scope to understand why the odds aren't even exactly favorable for bettors.
The 2012 win is big, but by far Kuchar's lone noteworthy finish. He has eight starts at the tournament, but his best finish outside of the victory is a tie for 13th. Last year he wound up tied for 48th.
For those who don't heavily weigh history into betting equations, recent trends suggest Kuchar is the hottest player set to partake in the proceedings. He has three top-five finishes in a row and a place atop the leaderboard at the RBC Heritage recently to boot.
One has to think Kuchar will cool off at some point, but now isn't the time to take that bet. Roll with Kuchar and his hot streak for the time being. Until he proves otherwise, Kuchar is money.
Sergio Garcia (20-1)
Yet another past champ, Sergio Garcia enters a nice underdog with a sound payout.
Safest contender to bet?
Garcia won it all in 2008 at the same tournament, has not missed the cut since 2003 and finished tied for eighth last year. He has also finished inside the top 25 seven times, approximately half of his starts at Ponte Vedra Beach.
While he struggled against Woods last year during his flirtation with contention, Woods won't be in Garcia's way this time around. Two shots into the water late in last year's proceedings doomed Garcia, but it seemed a fluky end-of-tournament performance for a rather consistent contender.
No stranger to contention at this event, Garcia is a safe play for those in search of a great payout backed by both recent and long-term success. Watch for Garcia to ride his tremendous putting game to the top of the leaderboard this weekend.