2022 PLAYERS Championship: Odds & Picks for Collin Morikawa, Daniel Berger, More
Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images. Pictured: Collin Morikawa.
Click arrow to expand 2022 PLAYERS Championship odds via PointsBet
|Si Woo Kim||+6000|
|Harold Varner III||+12500|
|Erik Van Rooyen||+15000|
|Mito Guillermo Pereira||+15000|
|Andrew D. Putnam||+20000|
|J. J. Spaun||+25000|
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Ah, welcome to PLAYERS Championship week, featuring the most equitable golf tournament of the year.
Don’t believe it? Try this: Since the turn of the century, winners at TPC Sawgrass have been old and young, large and small, stars and journeymen, fiery and tranquil.
Most relevant from a prognostication perspective is that technical skillsets are similarly indiscriminate. The champions’ list is muddled with a puzzling combination of big hitters, great iron players and crafty putters. The leaderboard is annually littered with an amalgam of disparate types of players.
Factor all of that into your mindset and you’ll find that this tourney remains one of the most difficult to predict on a yearly basis.
That doesn’t mean Justin Thomas was an unforeseeable winner; in fact, he might’ve been one of the most calculable outright wagers last year. What it does mean is that there might’ve been 20 or 30 or 40 other candidates who similarly owned the talents necessary for success on this course.
Really, though, the leaderboard diversity isn’t just reflected in the guy who wins the trophy. Each of the last two runners-up was in his mid-to-late 40s. When Tiger Woods last won in 2013, he followed by a trio that included David Lingmerth, Jeff Maggert and Kevin Streelman.
All of which endorses the main point: Things usually happen here that we don’t expect.
Onto this week, specifically, which is supposed to start with an opening round featuring warm, rainy, calm conditions, transitioning over the next few days to cool, dry, windy conditions, only to close with some combination of all of those by Sunday afternoon.
What that all means is the year’s most equitable golf tournament – one which tests every part of a player’s game – might also be the most equitable from a weather standpoint, necessitating an ability to compete in a few different kinds of elements.
Let’s get to the picks, starting with the PGA TOUR leader in total strokes gained and the all-around category, this season, meaning he’s doing everything well, which is paramount for this venue.
One player to win the tournament.
Collin Morikawa (+1600)
I proposed this idea in a column recently, but it’s worth revisiting: The world’s No. 2-ranked player is eminently underrated.
Best guess is that this is mostly due to the exploits of players such as Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth early in their careers. Essentially, we’ve become accustomed to young superstars thriving in the spotlight, which makes Morikawa’s accomplishments — five PGA TOUR wins, including two majors, plus a victory at last season’s DP World Tour finale in less than three full years as a pro — almost feel somewhat ordinary by comparison.
The truth is, Morikawa has been brilliant by any standard, but it might be his recent consistency which is lifting his profile even higher. In three U.S.-based starts so far this year, he’s finished top-five in all of ‘em. Now, he’ll head to a track which should suit his skillset, as he ranks 15th in driving accuracy and sixth in strokes gained on approach shots, exactly the type of combination we’re seeking this week.
While a T41 result in his first start at THE PLAYERS wasn’t overly impressive, a final-round 66 last year suggests that he just needed a few days to figure out TPC Sawgrass.
Potential selections for one-and-done options.
With some major pools also including multiple picks for this week’s event, I’ll offer up a six-pack of plays at varying levels of odds here.
Scottie Scheffler (+2800)
I won’t be surprised if these odds have shifted by the time you read this — Scheffler longer than Xander Schauffele? Cameron Smith? — but the guy with two wins in his last three starts is riding a heater into this one.
The benefit of OAD pools in which you make weekly picks (instead of all preseason or at select checkpoints) is that you can go with the hot hand. Finishing T7 at the Genesis Invitational after that first win at the WM Phoenix Open last month should have us confident that Scheffler can follow his Arnold Palmer Invitational victory with another strong performance this week.
Sam Burns (+3500)
There was a little glitch in the matrix over the past couple of months, when Burns missed three straight cuts in a row. Back on Bermuda greens, he deserves some consideration.
During the past year or so, I’ve often lumped Burns and Scheffler into the same category — terrifically talented young players who can win on just about any given week. For betting purposes, I’d like Burns at a longer number this week, but he’s certainly a strong candidate for OAD plays, despite shooting 81-76 in his tourney debut last year.
Louis Oosthuizen (+4000)
As I’ve written in the past, Oosthuizen remains one of the toughest players to factor into OAD plays. He’s obviously fared great in some majors, but that’s a pretty large leap of faith you’d have to take to insert him for one of the big four. And he’s hardly trustworthy in most non-majors, which leaves him as an elite-level player without a true home on most pool lists.
This one doesn’t exactly scream slam-dunk, with a T2 in 2017 his only finish better than 19th in 10 career starts, but he’s worth a thought as a contrary option.
Billy Horschel (+5000)
Not long after parlaying a brutal start to his final round of the API into a gutsy attempt down the stretch, Horschel offered, “I don’t give in. I don’t give up. I’m going to battle till the end. I’ll go down in flames before I tap out.”
That might sound like more pro wrestler-bluster than analytical rationale for playing him after that T2 finish, but I do believe that stoking the inner fire could be a key this week for the PVB resident who desperately wants to finally contend in a home game.
One top-25 (a share of 13th in 2015) in eight career starts doesn’t exactly scream value, but those numbers alone might be able to make him a contrarian selection.
Si Woo Kim (+8000)
For the early part of his career, the 2017 champion of this event had a Cameron Champ-like reputation, which is to say, he was usually an all-or-nothing proposition, owning some unique win equity while failing to reach the weekend on a decent number of occasions. He might still own that reputation, but it’s really no longer relevant, as he’s only won once since that PLAYERS victory a half-decade ago, yet he’s made the cut in nine straight starts and 17 of his last 19.
The reality is that Si Woo owns a much higher floor than a few years ago, while his ceiling should remain moderately high. If you want to use your OAD on a known commodity who’s won here previously, Kim isn’t a bad idea.
Matt Kuchar (+15000)
In recent years, there’s always been an “old guy” who contends for this title. Last year, Lee Westwood finished runner-up; two years before that (there was no full event in 2020), Jim Furyk was second.
Ten years removed from his PLAYERS Championship victory, maybe Kuchar can be that player this time. Though he hasn’t shown great form recently, he’s the type who should prosper the more precision and accuracy factor into the result. Even if you don’t want to “waste” an OAD play on him, I don’t mind him for props and DFS lineups.
One player to finish top-five.
Daniel Berger (+800)
When we last saw Berger, he was licking his wounds after parlaying the 54-hole Honda Classic lead into a solo fourth-place finish just two weeks ago. No doubt that one hurt, but Berger has shown some strong resiliency in recent years, with many of his best results coming in bunches.
It wasn’t that long ago when the defending champion withdrew from the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am with a back injury, but he told me afterward that it was only a precautionary measure. While he didn’t win at PGA National, he proved that he is indeed healthy enough to contend.
An opening-round 74 put him behind the eight-ball at TPC Sawgrass last year, though he still battled to finish T9. I expect something even closer this time.
One player to finish top-10.
Sungjae Im (+450)
I’ve been admittedly flip-flopping on Sungjae over the year’s first few months, but I think this week’s number is ripe to play him for props and even an outright wager.
Last year’s T17 result included scores of 66 in both the second and fourth rounds; he’s also tended to play some of his best golf here in Florida. While an MC at the Honda and T20 at API don’t exactly back that up, I’ll rely more here on the ascending trend than disappointing results. He’s still posted top-10s in four of his last 10 starts (with a T11 thrown in there for good measure).
One player to finish top-20.
Matt Fitzpatrick (+175)
Going back to the proverbial well here after Fitzpatrick posted strong weekend numbers (compared with the field, at least) to finish T9 at Bay Hill. He was similarly T9 at last year’s edition of The Players, which underscores the main reason we should continue backing him: He literally does everything well.
Fitzpatrick ranks second (behind Morikawa, ahead of Jon Rahm) in total strokes gained so far this season. On a track that tests all parts of a player’s game, being proficient across the board seems like a nice place to start looking for contenders.
I’ll admit that top-20 is very conservative here, so don’t be scared to get a little more aggressive if you wish.
One player to finish top-30.
Yet another conservative play for a guy with top-six finishes in two of his last three starts and top-20s in two of his four PLAYERS starts, but it’s very possible to envision Noren making a serious run up the leaderboard, at least over the first couple of days. He’s starting to again show the form that made him a top-10 player in the world ranking just a few years ago.
One player to finish top-40.
Russell Knox (+180)
Not only do I like some of Knox’s metrics to fit this event, but both his recent results and his tournament history suggest this is a solid ticket this week. In six starts this year, Knox owns four top-40 finishes; in seven previous starts at this event, he’s finished top-40 four times.
I won’t go all-in, but on a week when the wind is forecasted to blow, I like the Scotsman to play well.
DFS Free Bingo Square
A safe plug-and-play option for DFS.
Justin Thomas (DK $10,400)
Obviously, I like Morikawa (listed above) as a top-of-the-lineup anchor and I won’t talk you out of Jon Rahm and/or Patrick Cantlay if those are guys you really like. (Cantlay, especially, at $1,200 cheaper than Rahm on DK, seems like a strong value.)
But I also won’t get too cute here.
There are sooooo many very playable options in the low-7,000/high-6,000 range that you should be able to sneak at least one stud (if not two) into your lineups this week. Give me a healthy dose of the defending champion, who’s looked like he’s been knocking on the door ever since that win, which still stands as his most recent.
A lower-priced option for DFS.
Francesco Molinari (DK $6,800)
Wait … I can only pick one here?
Quite honestly, a sub-7000 range that include the likes of Patton Kizzire, Emiliano Grillo, C.T. Pan, Mito Pereira, Sebastian Munoz and Aaron Wise is just begging us to pay up for some of those superstars and fill in the bottom of these lineups with cheap guys who are hardly longshot plays.
My favorite here, though, is Molinari, whose five MCs in 10 starts at this one have been offset with four top-10s. I don’t know if that completely renders him a high-ceiling/low-floor play, but he owns tremendous value at this price as a guy who’s proven he can contend here.
One player to post the low score Thursday.
This feels like a nice spot to load up on the undervalued Ancer — both for FRL and other full-event plays — as his previous finishes of T12 and T22 here include five of eight rounds under par.
I like him to go low on Thursday again, as his past four opening rounds have been 66-67-68-69. While those might not be trending in the order we’d like this week, he’s certainly capable of posting a mistake-free round in the mid-60s, which is usually enough to cash these tickets.
One player who should beat comparable players.
Corey Conners (+5000)
We’ve long known Conners as one of the game’s premier ball-strikers who struggles with other parts of his game, but he’s shown a better wedge and putter performance this season than previous ones.
Coming off a T11 at Bay Hill, Conners is the type of guy I like to target in similar conditions to last week — which is to say, the tougher it gets, the more I like him. I’m willing to take him against some players with similar odds and hope for the wind to blow.
Also Receiving Votes
Other players who should provide value.
Cameron Smith (+2500), Brooks Koepka (+3500), Brian Harman (+13000), Patton Kizzire (+13000), Aaron Wise (+13000), Adam Hadwin (+15000), C.T. Pan (+15000), Branden Grace (+15000), Emiliano Grillo (+15000)
The Big Fade
One top player to avoid at this tournament.
Dustin Johnson (+2200)
It would’ve been easy enough to list, say, past champion Webb Simpson here, coming off an injury absence. Instead, I’ll offer up a little more with which to work.
Even in the best of times, DJ was never one who played his best golf at TPC Sawgrass, a T5 two years ago ranking as his lone top-10 in a dozen starts. While he has trended better here later in his career, Johnson fits the profile of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson — great players who never really took a liking to this course (despite their respective wins here).
With talk of the Saudi League potentially still swirling for Johnson as he plays the PGA TOUR’s flagship event, despite his recent denials, I’ll sell more of him than I’ll buy this week.
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