The Stadium Course at Sawgrass has hosted The Players Championship since it was opened in 1982. It was designed to favour no particular style of play, with its 7,200-yard layout providing an array of challenges and tests for a wide range of skills.
Careful positioning off the tee is a must, with wayward shots being heavily punished, most notably on the iconic “island green” 17th (a par three which is surrounded by water).
The course has been comprehensively remodelled since the 2016 edition. The changes include the introduction of a new lake that comes into play on both the sixth and seventh holes. The par four 12th hole is now driveable but poses significant risks as the fairway slopes right to left into a water hazard.
No player has won here more than twice. Tiger Woods was the last man to win The Players Championship for a second time in 2013.
Si-woo Kim was the surprise winner of last year’s edition. Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Martin Kaymer, and Matt Kutcher are among the other recent champions.
The field consists of 144 players, comprised mostly of the top 125 on last year’s FedEx Cup standings, plus any PGA Tour winners since last year’s tournament.
The Players Championship Favourites
Jason Day, the 2016 Champion, won the Wells Fargo Championship on Sunday and is among the market leaders. But there is no clear tournament favourite. Four players are available at the best odds of 16/1* to win. Betfred are offering that price against Day, Rory McIlroy, and Jordan Spieth. Justin Thomas is a 16/1* chance with Bet365 and Coral.
Dustin Johnson is at 18/1* with Bet365, with Rickie Fowler at 20/1* with William Hill and Coral. Jon Rahm has been in great form this season and the Spaniard is at 25/1* with most firms. Justin Rose is at 28/1* with Bet365. The rest of the field are at 33/1* and above. Tiger Woods’s odds are at least 40/1*, and 2016 Players Championship winner Kim is at 100/1*.
The Players Championship 2018 Tips
Ian Poulter has experienced some lows in recent years, ending 2016 down in 184th place in the world rankings. But his revival was sparked by his share of second place at Sawgrass 12 months ago. He has gone from strength to strength in recent months.
After a typically good performance at the Dell Match Play, he won the Houston Open and was seventh at the RBC Heritage on his most recent outing. Betfred are offering the best price of 70/1*.
Alex Noren may have missed the cut on his last two starts but his longer-term form remains impressive, with three top-three finishes in his nine appearances in 2018. The Swede won four times in 2016 to break into the world’s top 10 for the first time. He has retained his position in the top 20 in the ranking ever since. He has played in The Players Championship only once before, finishing in a share of 10th place last year. Betfred are also offering the best price of 70/1*.
It’s been a breakthrough year for Cameron Smith. The 24-year-old Australian is playing with great confidence since winning his national championship in December. That victory (the first of his career) earned him a second appearance at The Masters. He took his opportunity and finished in a share of fifth place.
Having finished in the top six on three of his last six appearances he’s unlikely to be daunted by his first visit to Sawgrass. As with our other two selections, he currently has odds of 70/1* with Betfred.
*All odds are subject to change.