2020 PLAYERS Championship: Round 1 Odds & Betting Picks for PGA TOUR Live Featured Groups
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images. Pictured: Adam Scott
- Looking to bet first-round matchups and 3-balls at the 2020 PLAYERS Championship? Jason Sobel breaks down the featured groups, featuring many of the world's top-ranked golfers.
- He's backing Adam Scott, Jon Rahm, Matt Kuchar and upstart Collin Morikawa in their Thursday matchups.
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Here’s a fun fact if you’re trying to correctly predict the opening-round low score for this week’s Players Championship: Each of the last four editions of this tournament have had a different total topping the leaderboard on Thursday evening, making an eminently unpredictable event just as unpredictable in the early short-term.
If we dig a little deeper, though, we’ll find that three of the last seven have featured a first-round leader posting a 9-under 63, meaning you’ll often have to go low to climb that early board.
For its showcase event, at company headquarters, with every shot from every player being streamed live, the PGA TOUR has created a quartet of can’t-miss featured groups for Thursday afternoon, each filled with big-name studs.
Let’s break down these groups, with a pick to win each of the opening-round three-balls:
2020 PLAYERS Betting Matchups
Collin Morikawa over Viktor Hovland and Matthew Wolff
- Odds: +110 ($10 bet would win $11)
- Tee time: 1:18 p.m. ET
What, the PGA Tour couldn’t also throw Sungjae Im and Joaquin Niemann into this group and play as a fivesome? I love the whole future-of-golf vibe for this one, but I love the play on Morikawa even more. Wolff has struggled recently, with no finishes inside the top-50 in his last four starts. Hovland is already notorious for starting a big slow, but revving up on the weekend when it matters the most.
The pick here then is easily Morikawa, who doesn’t tend to go too low on Thursdays, yet remains consistently solid every single time he tees it up. I had questions about how he’d fare on Bermuda grass prior to last week’s API, but he answered those questions in the form of a T-9 finish and I’m ready to back him here.
Matt Kuchar over Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia
- Odds: +150 ($10 bet would win $15)
- Tee time: 1:29 p.m. ET
Quick: Who’s the all-time leading money-winner in Players Championship history? If you answered Tiger Woods, congrats – you got the guy in second place. The correct answer is Garcia, a winner here 12 years ago and four other times a top-five finisher.
He is – as he’s been for much of his career – a bit of an enigma right now. So, too, might be Stenson, who traditionally plays very well at Bay Hill, but is coming off a missed cut.
The pick here, based partially on process of elimination and partially on his own accord, is Kuchar, who prior to an opening-round 75 in his most recent start at the WGC-Mexico Championship, had a first-round scoring average of 67.8 in his previous five Thursday rounds.
Adam Scott over Justin Rose and Xander Schauffele
- Odds: +175 ($10 bet would win $17.50)
- Tee time: 1:40 p.m. ET
After posting an uncharacteristic 5-over 77 at last week’s API, I spoke with Scott just to assure he didn’t have some sort of injury or illness. He assured me that not only was he fine, his game still felt good, despite hitting what he termed as some “bad shots.”
He missed the cut one day later, but I like him to bounce back against the struggling Rose and Schauffele, who’s been starting slow lately, with opening scores of 72-or-higher in four of his last five starts.
Jon Rahm over Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka
- Odds: +175 ($10 bet would win $17.50)
- Tee time: 1:51 p.m. ET
In each of his last two starts, McIlroy has raced out to a low opening-round total – only to parlay it into a fifth-place finish by Sunday evening. I don’t believe he’ll necessarily take his foot off the gas pedal Thursday, but I do think he’s gained a greater understanding of easing his way into a big event and, really, not needing post a low one early and try to chase it for three more days.
Rahm, meanwhile, should be triggered by playing with his fellow big boys in this one. I can see him trying to prove himself a bit against the two four-time major winners, which could result in the lowest early score.