Players Championship 2021: Favorites, Sleepers and Tournament Preview

Martin FennFeatured Columnist IMarch 8, 2021

Players Championship 2021: Favorites, Sleepers and Tournament Preview

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    The Players Championship returns Thursday at TPC Sawgrass, with a crowded field looking to capture one of golf's most coveted titles. This Players means even more to the participants.

    Last year's tournament began as scheduled despite growing concerns around the coronavirus pandemic but was cancelled after the first round, signaling a three-month hiatus on the PGA Tour.

    Stars will be out at TPC Sawgrass, and the fans are sure to greet them with the roars golfers have come to expect at the Players, especially at the famous 17th hole.

    Who are some of the golfers to watch this week. Let's take a look at the betting odds and break down the tournament favorites and potential sleepers to follow.

Players Championship Odds

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    Dustin Johnson +1000 (bet $10 to win $100)

    Bryson DeChambeau +1200

    Rory McIlroy +1200

    Jon Rahm +1400

    Viktor Hovland +1800

    Xander Schauffele +1800

    Justin Thomas +1800

    Collin Morikawa +2000

    Webb Simpson +2000

    Patrick Cantlay +2200   

    All odds obtained via DraftKings.

Top Favorites at Sawgrass

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    Pheland M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Dustin Johnson   

    The No. 1 player in the world and 2020 Masters champion is naturally one of the favorites to capture the crown at TPC Sawgrass.

    Dustin Johnson has wasted little time picking up where he left off last year. He earned a top-10 finish at The Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club after winning the 2021 Saudi International. Johnson struggled at the recent WGC-Workday Championship at Concession, mostly because of poor scoring in his first and final rounds. 

    But DJ will likely be motivated to get back on track and build momentum as he prepares to defend his green jacket at Augusta National in April.


    Bryson DeChambeau

    There aren't too many golfers who can thrill a crowd like Bryson DeChambeau.

    The 2020 U.S. Open champion put on a show at the recent Arnold Palmer Invitational, ripping 370-yard drives over water and using brute strength to power through thick rough. But DeChambeau was also steady, staving off challengers and shooting even par on the back nine Sunday to earn a one-stroke victory over playing partner Lee Westwood.

    DeChambeau took over the No. 1 spot in the FedExCup standings after his victory at Bay Hill. He figures to keep the ball rolling at the Players.   


    Rory McIlroy   

    Rory McIlroy is the last man to win at TPC Sawgrass. The four-time major champion captured the 2019 Players with a one-shot win over veteran Jim Furyk.

    The Northern Irishman has played some good golf as of late. McIlroy finished tied for sixth at the WGC-Workday, and was in contention at Bay Hill prior to a final round, during which he finished four over par. He has as good a chance as any given his past mastery of Sawgrass.

Sleepers to Watch

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    Jordan Spieth

    It just feels like Jordan Spieth is going to get a win under his belt sometime soon.

    The three-time major champion has not won a tournament since capturing the 2017 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, enduring a roller-coaster ride in the proceeding years. But 2021 might be the year he breaks through.

    Spieth already has three top-five finishes in 2021. But he has not broken 70 in the final round in any of his past four outings. The Dallas native will have to perform Sunday, but his ability to heat up with the flat stick gives him a chance every weekend.


    Sungjae Im   

    Sungjae Im has been nothing if not steady during the 2021 season, but he also has breakout potential.

    The 22-year-old finished tied for second at the Masters in the fall. Im is a tremendous ball-striker, and he ranks seventh in strokes gained off the tee this season. He also ranks 32nd in greens in regulation percentage and 28th in birdie percentage.

    Although not as flashy or long as other players, Im's straightforward tee-fairway-green style and ball-striking make him an interesting sleeper candidate.


    Jason Kokrak   

    There might not be a player in the field with more appealing odds than Jason Kokrak (+8000).

    The 35-year-old has consecutive top-10 finishes at Concession and Bay Hill. He got the first win of his PGA career at Shadow Creek in October. He has distance but also ranks 14th in strokes gained via his putting in this season.

    Kokrak seems to be putting things together. If he can find fairways and get the putter rolling, he could make a serious run at TPC Sawgrass. 


    All stats obtained via unless otherwise noted.


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