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PGA Tour best bets: The Players Championship

March 8, 2022 08:02 PM

Scottie Scheffler survived a weekend battle of attrition at a difficult Bay Hill to win his second PGA Tour event in three weeks at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. His 5-under score was one stroke better than Viktor Hovland, Tyrrell Hatton and Billy Horschel. Scheffler, 16-1 last week, led the field in Strokes Gained: Approach but won with the putter on Sunday, making several tough par saves while hitting only five fairways and nine greens in regulation. This column tipped runners-up Hovland (20-1 this week), who was at 10-under with a four-shot lead on Saturday, and Horschel (55-1 this week), plus fifth-place finisher Chris Kirk (100-1 this week). Scheffler (25-1 this week) will attempt to win his third career event in four starts this week at The Players Championship. 

The Players Championship, the unofficial fifth major, brings arguably the best field of the year. World No. 1 Jon Rahm (12-1, market high of 14-1) ranked third last week for Strokes Gained: Tee To Green, second for Strokes Gained: Approach and fifth for Strokes Gained: Off The Tee but was just 68th out of 77 players in Strokes Gained: Putting, leading to a 17th-place finish. Defending Players champion Justin Thomas (14-1) was a winner for this column last year at 22-1 and has three finishes of eighth or better in four events in 2022. World No. 2 Collin Morikawa (16-1) finished second three weeks ago at the Genesis Invitational. 

2019 Players champion Rory McIlroy (18-1) was the first-round leader last week at Bay Hill but finished 13th. World No. 4 Patrick Cantlay (22-1) has finished fourth or better in five of his last seven starts dating to his BMW Championship victory in August. Cantlay is part of an OWGR top five in which all five players are under the age of 30 (Rahm, Morikawa, Hovland, Cantlay, Scheffler), a first since the Official World Golf Rankings were created in 1986.

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