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Morning Coffee: Players Championship winners, props and first-round leaders

Scottie Scheffler Scottie Scheffler - The Canadian Press

The Players Championship takes place this week in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., at TPC Sawgrass. 

The event offers of the highest purse of the year on the PGA Tour, with $25 million up for grabs and $4.5 million going to the winner. 

This event is one of my favourites every year for several reasons, the biggest one being the golf course. 

TPC Sawgrass is incredible and offers a difficult but fair challenge to some of the game’s best players. 

While the island green at 17 gets all the attention, as it should – it’s one of the most iconic golf holes on earth – we also see year after year just how volatile this place can be. 

Big names miss the cut at TPC Sawgrass every year. Rory McIlroy highlighted the list of players not to make the weekend last year. This year, more big names will do the same. 

Join me today as I dive into my 2024 Players Championship card, which features outrights, first-round leaders, and some props/long shots. 

It’s going to be a great week. Here is your Morning Coffee for Wednesday, March 13. 


To Scottie or not to Scottie 

Before I get to any picks and insights, we have to talk about the giant elephant in the room. 

Scottie Scheffler is going to win this golf tournament. And he might do it by five shots. 


Scheffler lapped the field on Sunday at this event last year, entering the day with a two-shot lead and finishing it with a five-shot win over Tyrell Hatton. 

With Hatton gone to the LIV Golf tour you have to fall to third place – Viktor Hovland and Tom Hoge – to find the closest players in this year’s field to Scheffler at the event last year. They were seven shots back. Seven! 

No player has ever won the Players Championship in back-to-back years, but this year’s field is unlike other years. 

The reigning Masters and PGA champions both aren’t in the event. Jon Rahm bolted for LIV Golf this winter. Brooks Koepka was already there. And so is Cameron Smith and Bryson DeChambeau. 

In total, 17 of the past 30 major championship winners aren’t in this field. 

While the PGA Tour does a great job of restocking the shelves and there still is a boatload of talent in this field, there is a lot of firepower and stardom missing from this tournament. 

Ultimately, I can’t get myself to bet Scottie this week at +550. The number is just too short on a golf course that has water in play on almost every hole – including a closing two-hole stretch begging someone to make a quadruple bogey. 

This week my Scheffler exposer will come in One and Done. 

The Players Championship has the largest purse of any PGA Tour event, so I’m going to play the best player in the world. 

If FanDuel decides to give us a market of Scheffler to win by three or more shots I’ll dabble in that. But if not, here’s hoping he comes tied for second. 

Let’s build a card 



Justin Thomas +2200 

After missing the playoffs in 2023, you can argue that Thomas has been one of the best players on the PGA Tour to start 2024. Thomas has played in five events this year, and he’s finished inside the top 12 in four of them. The American missed the cut at the Genesis Invitational, but we can chalk that up to a stomach bug that was going around the event. Thomas rebounded nicely in his most recent start, with a tie for 12th at Bay Hill. The win would make Thomas the sixth golfer to win this event multiple times. 

Hideki Matsuyama +4000

Matsuyama is all the way back. The 32-year-old won for the first time in over two years when he beat Will Zalatoris and Luke List by three shots at the Genesis Invitational in February. Matsuyama has played in this event eight times and has three finishes inside the top 10. He burned me at this tournament two years ago in DFS when he withdrew from the event 10 minutes after it started. This year, he wins it all back. 



If you want to bet on a first-round leader this week, I recommend the following: Pick the amount of money you’re comfortable losing on one ticket and spread that money around five to six guys. 

The best example of this came a few weeks ago when I talked my guy Allan Perkins into $5 of his time for Thursday at the Mexico Open. We cashed Erik van Rooyen at 45-1. Perk had a $1 on EVR and $4 sprinkled elsewhere and came out a winner that day. 

Let’s do the same this week. Here are five guys I like to be first-round leader. 

Scottie Scheffler 12

The best ball-striker in the world might have the putter figured out after switching to a mallet putter at The Arnold Palmer Invitational. Last week Scheffler’s putting improved every day with the new flatstick, and if it stays hot on Thursday he might go wire to wire this week.

Xander Schauffele 29

Very quietly, Schauffele has racked up four top 10s this season. The American is also fourth on the PGA Tour this season in first-round scoring. In 2018 he opened with a 68 on Thursday and was two off the lead, this year I’m hoping he takes it a bit deeper. 

Doug Ghim 65

Ghim has played 10 rounds at TPC Sawgrass and has gained strokes from the field tee to green in eight of them. He enters this week in incredible form, with four straight top 20s and strokes gained off the tee in 12 consecutive events. 

Keith Mitchell 80 

TPC Sawgrass demands accuracy off the tee and will punish misses. Looking at everyone’s last 24 rounds in this field – only McIlroy has gained more strokes off the tee than Mitchell. And in 2024 Mitchell trials just Scheffler if you add up everyone’s total strokes gained off the tee and on approach. 

Jake Knapp 80 

Knapp feels like the future of golf. He is long off the tee, and it looks completely effortless. We’ve seen Knapp flash a lot of ceiling in recent weeks with a win in Mexico and a T4 at the Cognizant Classic. This year, he has gained at least five or more shots to the field in an individual round. No player in the field has more. 

Ryo Hisatsune 120 

Fresh off cashing Hisatsune in a seven-way split for the first-round leader in Puerto Rico, I have no choice but to go right back to him. Hisatsune’s two strengths are his iron play and putting. That combination allows him to go low as often as he does. While Hisatsune lacks distance, he is better than the tour average at hitting fairways, here’s hoping he takes advantage of hitting a bunch on Thursday. 


Longshots and Props 

Tony Finau +6500 

At this price, I’m willing to play Finau almost anywhere. This year, only three players have gained more strokes off the tee and on approach combined than Finau. The putter has been a massive issue for the American this year. However, some changes at the Mexico Open saw him gain strokes on the greens for the second time this season. He’s putted well at TPC Sawgrass in four of his last five trips to the tournament. 

Sungjae Im outright +9000 / top 10 +490 

I wrote about Sungjae Im in Morning Coffee yesterday, and here’s a tweet to sum up every reason why I like him. 

Ben Silverman top 40 +350/top 10 +1700 

The 36-year-old Canadian has had a solid start to his 2024. In six PGA Tour events Silverman has three finishes inside the top 20. He is 14th on tour in driving accuracy and has gained on approach three of his last four events. 

Matthieu Pavon top 40 +165 / top 10 +1000 

Pavon is No. 3 in the FedEx Cup standings for a reason. The Frenchman has three top 10s on the PGA Tour this year and is 11th in SG: Approach. He’s also been very consistent with the putter, gaining over three strokes on the green in five of his six tournaments. 

Nick Taylor +17000 outright / top 40 +150 

Since winning the WM Phoenix Open, Taylor has played in two events (The Genesis Invitational and the Arnold Palmer Invitational) and finished inside the top 40 in both of them. Last year, Scheffler ran down Taylor on Sunday at WM; this year, the Canadian could return the favour at the Players Championship. 

Tom Kim outright +9000 

I will click Kim’s name at 90-1 whenever you give me the chance. Kim is only 22 years old and has seven professional wins, with three on the PGA Tour. One of these years, everything will click at TPC Sawgrass for Kim, and he’ll win the event. I’m not sure it’ll be this year as he has just one top 20 in seven events in 2024. But again, at 90-1, I’ll roll the dice on this guy anytime, anywhere.  

Adam Scott top 40 +115 / top 10 +800 / top 5 +1600 / outright +9000 

I can’t overstate how great Scott has been lately. In his last eight worldwide starts, the Australian has seven top 20s, five of which are top 10s. With the Presidents Cup in September, I think we’re seeing an incredibly motivated Scott trying to play his way on the team for an 11th-straight Presidents Cup. It’s been 20 years since he won this event. Why not do it again?