The Players Championship is called golf’s fifth major for a reason. Since its start in 1974, with Jack Nicklaus’ victory over J.C. Snead at Atlanta Country Club, the Players Championship has been one of the PGA Tour’s most coveted titles. The tournament often has not only the strongest field of any PGA Tour event other then the PGA Championship but also the biggest purse on the Tour. The field tees off at the 2016 Players Championship on Thursday morning at TPC Sawgrass, home of the famous No. 17 island green, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. And your favorite on golf odds is world No. 3 Rory McIlroy at +750.
A Look at The Players Championship Betting Odds
Take a look at the groups you’ll be following on Thursday & Friday.
— THE PLAYERS (@THEPLAYERSChamp) May 9, 2016
As noted, the Players offers the highest prize fund of any tournament in golf at $10.5 million. The winner gets $1.85 million and receives 80 points towards his world ranking, the largest share aside from the majors. The winner also gets a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a three-year invitation to the Masters Tournament, three-year exemptions for the U.S. Open and the British Open, and an exemption to that year’s PGA Championship.
The field usually includes the top 50 players in the world rankings, but unlike the three major championships staged in the United States, it is not an official event on the European Tour. This year, FedEx Cup leader Adam Scott, world No. 1 Jason Day, No. 2 Jordan Spieth and McIlroy join defending champion Rickie Fowler in the field. A total of 46 of the world’s top 50 are set to play this time. Charl Schwartzel, Lee Westwood and Tiger Woods are some notable absences.
Woods, who hasn’t played since last year’s Wyndham Championship following multiple back procedures, has repeatedly said there is no time line for his return, yet there has been recent speculation that he is close to a return. Woods missed The players in 2014 with an injury as well. He has won the Tour’s flagship event twice, most recently in 2013.
Probably the big story line here is that it’s Spieth’s first tournament since his final-round meltdown at the Masters cost him back-to-back green jackets. Spieth spent time last week at Oakmont preparing for the U.S. Open, and he was already at TPC Sawgrass on Sunday getting in some work. His comments suggest he is ready to put the Masters behind him. Spieth is +950 on golf odds to win.
Spieth goes off early Thursday morning with Day and Branden Grace. Spieth held a 54-hole lead at this tournament in 2014 but finished T4. He could retake the No. 1 world ranking from Day this weekend depending on what both do. Grace earned his maiden PGA Tour win last month at Harbour Town. Day is next on the golf odds at +1000, followed by defending champion Fowler at +1700. No player has ever repeated in this tournament.
Danny Willett was the beneficiary of Spieth’s collapse at the Masters and the Englishman is +3500 to win the Players. Willett hasn’t played on the Tour since taking the green jacket. He’ll play the first two rounds alongside Brandt Snedeker, who won earlier this year at Torrey Pines, and Justin Rose.
Here are the first- and second-round tee times (times Eastern):
Tee #1 — Ricky Barnes, Jason Kokrak, Patton Kizzire; Tee #10 — Jason Gore, Graham DaLaet, Francesco Molinari
Tee #1 — Cameron Tringale, Daniel Summerhays, Will Wilcox; Tee #10 — Johnson Wagner, Jerry Kelly, Kevin Chappell
Tee #1 — Freddie Jacobson, Chad Campbell, Matthew Fitzpatrick; Tee #10 — Gary Woodland, David Hearn, Hudson Swafford
Tee #1 — Shane Lowry, Troy Merritt, Paul Casey; Tee #10 — Matt Every, Webb Simpson, Ernie Els
Tee #1 — J.B. Holmes, Brian Harman, Chesson Hadley; Tee #10 — Tony Finau, Peter Malnati, K.J. Choi
Tee #1 — Jim Herman, Emiliano Grillo, Brooks Koepka; Tee #10 — Danny Willett, Brand Snedeker, Justin Rose
Tee #1 — James Hahn, Bill Haas, Ryan Moore; Tee #10 — Martin Kaymer, Henrik Stenson, Phil Mickelson
Tee #1 — Charley Hoffman, Danny Lee, Chris Kirk; Tee #10 — Russell Knox, Jim Furyk, Billy Horschel
Tee #1 — JJ Henry, Steven Bowditch, Nick Taylor; Tee #10 — Branden Grace, Jason Day, Jordan Spieth
Tee #1 — Jason Dufner, Kevin Kisner, Luke Donald; Tee #10 — Chris Stroud, Daniel Berger, Bernd Wiesberger
Tee #1 — Martin Laird, Jhonattan Vegas, Si Woo Kim; Tee #10 — Ian Poulter, Marc Leishman, Bernard Langer
Tee #1 — Chez Reavie, Kyle Reifers, Zac Blair; Tee #10 — Brendan Steele, Jamie Lovemark, Jeff Overton
Tee # 1 — Kevin Na, Morgan Hoffman, Chad Collins; Tee #10 — Boo Weekley, Shawn Stefani, Andres Gonzales
Tee #1 — Jonas Blixt, Sean O’Hair, Adam Hadwin; Tee #10 — Ryan Palmer, Patrick Rodgers, Carlos Ortiz
Tee #1 — Carl Pettersson, George McNeill, Jason Bohn; Tee #10 — Bryce Molder, William McGirt, Colt Knost
Tee #1 — Robert Streb, Kevin Streelman, Brendon Todd; Tee #10 — Scott Piercy, Ben Martin, Hunter Mahan
Tee #1 — Fabian Gomez, Padraig Harrington, Retief Goosen; Tee #10 — Vaughn Taylor, Matt Jones, Vijay Singh
Tee #1 — Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia; Tee #10 — Brian Stuard, David Lingmerth, John Senden
Tee #1 — Adam Scott, Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar; Tee #10 — Justin Thomas, Davis Love III, Alex Cejka
Tee #1 — Hideki Matsuyama, Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen; Tee #10 — Smylie Kaufman, Jimmy Walker, Russell Henley
Tee #1 — Bubba Watson, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson; Tee #10 — Camilo Villegas, Harris English, Keegan Bradley
Tee #1 — Scott Brown, Harold Varner III, Byeong-Hun An; Tee #10 — Brendon de Jonge, Erik Compton, Soren Kjeldsen
Tee #1 — Ken Duke, Steve Wheatcroft, Andy Sullivan; Tee #10 — John Huh, Spencer Levin, Rafa Cabrera Bello
Tee #1 — Mark Wilson, Charles Howell III, Joe Curran; Tee #10 — Greg Owen, Scott Pinckney, Kiradech Aphibarnrat