Twelve months after The Players Championship was abandoned after the opening round because of the coronavirus pandemic, one of the world’s toughest tournaments is back, with 48 of the world’s top 50 players in action at the iconic TPC Sawgrass.

Rory McIloy remains the defending champion and is 16/1 in the Players Championship odds to repeat his success from 2019 when he won by a shot from Jim Furyk.

World number one Dustin Johnson, who won the US Masters four months ago, is the 11/1 favourite, with last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational champion Bryson DeChambeau next in line at 14/1.

Tournament information

When is the Players Championship? Thursday-Sunday, March 11-14

What time does the Players Championship start? TBC

Where is it being played? TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

Which channel is the Players Championship on? Sky Sports

The Players Championship betting tips

Experience is key at this Pete Dye-designed course, so we’ve picked a couple of players that have good records here from the top of the market and three each-way shots.

We start with Hideki Matsuyama as the first of our Players Championship betting tips. The Japanese shot a course-record 63 in the opening round last year so he would have been mightily disappointed to see the tournament scrapped on Friday morning.

The world number 23 has not won since capturing the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational title four years ago, one of three victories during the 2017 season, but he shot 66-67 on the weekend in the last renewal in 2019 to finish eighth which means his last three rounds at Sawgrass have been an incredible 20 under par!

Matsuyama has been inside the top 25 in five of his six visits, missing the cut just once, and he was seventh in 2016, so this exquisite ball striker clearly loves it here.

His form in the last couple of weeks is also encouraging, following 15th at the WGC-Workday Championship with another top-20 at Bay Hill where his strokes gained approach stats were excellent, so he kicks off our Players Championship tips at 30/1, with seven places available each way.

Tommy Fleetwood also makes the team at 40/1 after two superb performances here in the last couple of editions.

The Ryder Cup star was 41st on his 2017 debut which he followed with seventh place 12 months later and he shared the halfway lead in 2019 only to finish fifth at a place which suits his ball-striking skills.

In the build-up to the 2019 edition, the Lancastrian said: “If I drive it like I normally do then it’s a big advantage round here because if you are always in play, it’s scoreable after that.

“A lot of the tee shots are difficult so if I can do that well and be aggressive then hopefully I can do enough other things right to be up there.

Fleetwood, 10th at Bay Hill last week despite a double at the 72nd hole, is finding plenty of greens, scoring highly in strokes gained on approach and even his putter is looking solid, so his all-round game makes him a threat this week.

Of those at triple figures, Chris Kirk stands out at 125/1 after an excellent top-10 at last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational which moved him back into the world’s top 100.

The 35-year-old from Knoxville, Tennessee, has made a superb start to 2021, with four top-20s from five tournaments, including a runner-up finish at the Sony Open in Hawaii.

Kirk’s record at Sawgrass in the last two editions does not stand out but he has finished inside the top 15 in three of his last six visits, so history and form make him a lively outsider.

Keegan Bradley also looks an interesting proposition at 175/1 after an impressive performance at Bay Hill where he was just two shots off the lead heading into a very tough final day when he shot a 78 but still finished 10th.

The 2011 USPGA champion has played well at Sawgrass in his last two visits (7-16) and his tee to green and SG approach stats over the last couple of months suggest he could be a contender this week if not necessarily a winner, just like Kirk. 

We tipped Emiliano Grillo at 100/1 for last week’s API and he finished just outside the top 20, so we’ll give this great ball striker another shot at 150/1 to go well just as he has done in his last three appearances (11-37-26).

The Argentinean was 11th in a low-quality field at the Puerto Rico Open in the previous week, so his confidence will be high ahead of this supreme test. 

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