2020 PLAYERS Championship Matchup Odds & Preview: Finding Value Among 4 Featured Groups in Round 2
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images. Pictured: Patrick Cantlay during the first round of The PLAYERS Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — On the one hand, there’s a global pandemic currently hurtling toward us that will severely impact our collective way of life over the next several months.
On the other hand, there’s never been a better week for the PGA TOUR’s new streaming platform, which shows every shot from every player in real-time. I don’t mean to make light of our sullen situation, but this is clearly a laughing-through-the-tears type of take.
[PLAYERS Championship Promo! Bet $5 and Win $150 if Rory McIlroy makes a single birdie this week … (Yes, you can still bet on this!)]
On Thursday, the PGA TOUR announced that it would continue contesting events — including this week’s Players Championship — but will do so without on-site spectators for at least the next month, if not longer, a controversial decision that commissioner Jay Monahan admitted is fluid moving forward.
With virtually no other sporting events being played this weekend, and with most American citizens likely self-quarantining or at least remaining at home more, the festivities at TPC Sawgrass should take center stage — for better or worse.
While there are many more critical and important things taking place in the world right now, I’m not qualified to write about any of ‘em. And so, whether you agree with the decision to continue playing or not, whether you’ll watch or not, I’ll keep writing about what is indeed taking place, even if nobody is here to see it in person.
As such, let’s break down the PGA TOUR’s four featured groups for Friday afternoon.
Round 2 Matchups
Rickie Fowler over Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth
- Odds: +208 ($10 bet would win $20.80)
- Tee time: 1:51 p.m. ET
This one was U-G-L-Y on Thursday morning.
As other groups were making birdies all around them, Thomas (71), Spieth (75) and Fowler (76) combined to post a 6-over total that included such highlights as Spieth barely chunking a shot out of a bunker and Fowler chipping one through a green and into the water.
Thomas is the favorite here and the easy choice. Perhaps I’m just trying to play a bit devil’s advocate in this three-ball, but I see Fowler, who’s right near the bottom of the leaderboard, playing with literally nothing to lose and potentially even making a run at the cut.
Webb Simpson over Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson
- Odds: +120 ($10 bet would win $12)
- Tee time: 1:40 p.m. ET
There were some shockers from a few of these guys on Thursday.
First, Mickelson admitted in the most un-Mickelson way that he wasn’t knowledgeable enough about coronavirus COVID-19 to comment on whether the PGA TOUR had made the right decision. (I loved the quote, tweeted it, he trolled me. Just another day in the life.) Then, DJ said of not having fans here for the final three rounds, in the most un-DJ way, “I think it mitigates the risk.”
In all seriousness, I’ll stick with the third guy in this group, as Simpson clearly likes this golf course — of course, the way he’s playing, he likes every golf course — and should build on his solid opening 68.
Patrick Cantlay over Hideki Matsuyama and Patrick Reed
- Odds: +162 ($10 bet would win $16.20)
- Tee time: 1:29 p.m. ET
I was fully aboard #TeamCantlay at the start of the week, picking him as my outright winner, and I’m not jumping off anytime soon.
Following an opening 5-under 67, he’s in great position to make a charge. The guy he’s charging toward is Matsuyama, who posted a course-record-tying 63, thanks to one of the greatest putting performances of his life, but I’m not so convinced he’ll be able to keep that going.
Speaking of not keeping it going, Reed posted a 33 on his first nine in the opener, but ballooned to a 40 on the second nine. Give me Cantlay to keep plugging away with another score in the 67-68 range on Friday.
Bryson DeChambeau over Sungjae Im and Gary Woodland
- Odds: +136 ($10 bet would win $13.60)
- Tee time: 1:18 p.m. ET
Another guy I’ve liked recently is DeChambeau — and for good reason, as he’s placed in the top-five in each of his last three starts. His opening 2-under 70 was his usual mix of solid ball-striking and very average putting.
For me, this was the toughest call of the four featured groups for Friday, as Im is similarly playing tremendous golf lately and Woodland is capable of a big rebound from his opening 74. But I’m sticking with DeChambeau, who’s proven lately that he continues to trend in the right direction.