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2021 Players Championship Sleepers and Longshot Picks

Chris Amberley

by Chris Amberley in Golf

Updated Mar 9, 2021 · 6:00 AM PST

Players Championship
Patrick Cantlay on the Pebble Beach Golf Links during the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am golf tournament Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021, in Pebble Beach, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
  • The Players Championship tees off Thursday (March 11th) at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida 
  • Patrick Cantlay has three top-3 finishes, including a win, in his last six starts
  • Read below for analysis of the event and our favorite sleepers and longshot plays

49 of the top-50 golfers in the world will tee it up at TPC Sawgrass starting Thursday (March 11th) for the Players Championship. Considered the unofficial fifth major on the PGA Tour schedule, this is arguably the strongest field of the season, and is likely to produce a winner that reflects that.

Rory McIlroy, Webb Simpson and Jason Day have all tasted victory here since 2016, and while Simpson is a tempting name to start our card with, we’re going to venture a hair further down the odds board to target World No. 9 Patrick Cantlay.

2021 Players Championship Odds

Golfer Odds to Win Top-10 Odds Top-20 Odds
Patrick Cantlay +2300 +250 +115
Jason Day +4700 +500 +220
Joaquin Niemann +7500 +500 +240
Harris English +10000 +750 +360

Odds taken March 8th at FanDuel.

Cantlay Is a T2G Stud

The three-time winner has a pair of top-23 finishes at Sawgrass on his resume, and got off to a blistering start last year by shooting an opening round 67 before the tournament was cancelled. He’s produced three top-3 finishes in his past six starts, headlined by a win at the Zozo Championship.

Cantlay is a tee-to-green stud, and week after week gains strokes across the board. He’s gained at least 4.6 strokes with his ball striking in each of his last three events, and has been positive tee-to-green in all but one of his past 20 tournaments.

Patrick Cantlay Strokes Gained Stats – Last 3 Starts

Genesis 6 2.8 1.6 1.7 -0.6
AT&T Pro-Am 9.7 3.4 5.9 0.4 2.8
The AmEX 8.5 1.6 3.6 3.3 6.6

To  win at this course, you need to score on Par-4s, be precise with your irons, and get up-and-down from everywhere. That’s right up Cantlay’s alley, as he ranks fourth in this field in Par-4 scoring and seventh in around the green play over the past 24 rounds, while ranking top-40 on approach and greens in regulation.

Pick: Patrick Cantlay to Win Outright (+2300)

Day Dominates Sawgrass

Our next target is Jason Day, who has excellent course history at TPC Sawgrass. The 2016 Players Champion has back-to-back top-8 finishes at this tournament, and has been playing excellent recently.

The Aussie has racked up two top-18 finishes in his last three starts, and has been positive in the ball striking department in four straight events. After struggling during the tail end of 2019 and the beginning of the Tour’s restart in 2020, Day has put together six top-10 finishes in the last nine months, and is the one of the best short game players in this field. If his irons are on this week, don’t be surprised to see him near the top of the leaderboard.

Pick: Jason Day Top-10 Finish (+500)

Joaquin The Dream

Something appears to be broken with the algorithm that spit out this price tag for Joaquin Niemann. The Chilean is as many as 25 points shorter at other online sportsbooks, and at +7500, he’s auto click every day of the week.

The 29th ranked player in the world is a ball striking savant, ranking 12th in the field in strokes gained approach over the past 24 rounds, and has already racked up multiple runner-up finishes in 2021.

He’s broken 70 in 12 of his 16 competitive rounds this year, and while TPC Sawgrass is tough, it is a course where you can go low. Niemann ranks eighth in birdies over his past 24 rounds, and proved with his second place finish at the Tournament of Champions that he can compete with the best in the world.

Pick: Joaquin Niemann To Win Outright (+7500), Top-10 Finish (+500)

English Strong T20 Target

Speaking of the TOC, the reigning champ Harris English is showing great value in the top-20 market. The three-time winner on Tour went through a bit of a lull after his win in Hawaii, but flashed excellent ball striking at the API last week, en route to a 26th place finish.

The Georgia Bulldogs product was one of the most consistent players on Tour in 2020, racking up 13 top-20 finishes, including four top-6 results. When he’s on, he’s extremely precise with his irons and ranks 26th in around the green play over the past 50 rounds. He’s got an awful track record at TPC Sawgrass with only two made cuts in eight appearances, but that didn’t seem to bother him last year when he shot an opening round 7-under 65.

Pick: Harris English Top-20 Finish (+360)

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