Players Championship predictions, odds 2020: Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy picks by PGA insider

The 2020 Players Championship tees off Thursday at TPC Sawgrass, where the top players in the world will try to win in honor of course designer Pete Dye. The legendary architect built the course specifically to host this event and it has evolved into one of the most revered on the PGA Tour. This will be the first time the event, dubbed golf’s fifth major, will be played since Dye’s death in January, and the first 2020 Players Championship tee times are at 7:40 a.m. ET.

Defending champion and World No. 1 Rory McIlroy comes in as the 7-1 favorite in the latest 2020 Players Championship odds, and he is among 47 of the world’s top 50 players who will compete on the Stadium Course. Other notables in the 2020 Players Championship field include Jon Rahm (10-1), Justin Thomas (16-1), Dustin Johnson (28-1), Brooks Koepka (40-1) and last week’s winner, Tyrrell Hatton (45-1). Before you make any 2020 Players Championship picks, you need to check out the PGA Tour predictions from SportsLine’s resident golf insider, Sal Johnson. 

A media legend and consummate golf insider, Johnson is coming off a red-hot year. He featured Woods in his best bets for the Masters and backed Koepka in his picks for the PGA Championship, and both players pulled off victories. In the season-ending Tour Championship, he nailed it, pegging Koepka, McIlroy and Xander Schauffele as main contenders to come out on top, and McIlroy won the event for the second time, Schauffele was second and Koepka tied for third. 

Johnson also knows what players need to do to win at Sawgrass. Before last year’s event, he pegged McIlroy as one of his Best Bets, citing his ability to contend in every event. He had played in the final group eight times in a year without a victory coming into the 2019 Players. “We all know he is too good and, at worst, will back into a win,” Johnson said. McIlroy won by a stroke, paving the way for a year that earned him PGA Tour Player of the Year and FedEx Cup champion honors. 

Before last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, Johnson also made special mention of the strong momentum Tyrrell Hatton came in with. The 28-year-old led after the second and third rounds and shot 74 in very tough conditions to win his first PGA Tour title by a stroke. Anyone who has followed Johnson’s advice is way up.

Now, Johnson, the first producer of “Inside the PGA Tour,” a longtime ABC Sports golf producer who has worked with Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Greg Norman, and the founder of the world’s top golf statistics database, has released his highly confident 2020 Players Championship picks here, and they will surprise you.

Top 2020 Players Championship expert picks

We can tell you Johnson is fading Rickie Fowler, even though the fan favorite and 2015 Players champion finished in the top 20 last week at Bay Hill. The 31-year-old has nine worldwide wins, but has struggled in recent weeks. Johnson saw improvement in Fowler’s game last week, but there is still plenty of work to be done. He’s not worth backing, even at 33-1 Players Championship odds.

Johnson has just been waiting for another victory by McIlroy, who has finished at least fifth in every event he has played this year. The Northern Irishman has struggled in his final rounds, but he has been the top player on Tour by almost any measure. He won the WGC-HSBC Champions in November and is first on Tour in scoring average at 68.44. He ranks second in total strokes gained and scrambling and is fourth in driving distance. 

The golf stats guru also has been keeping a close eye on Justin Thomas, who has been on fire this season and is well-rested. The 26-year-old has 12 career Tour victories, including two this season, and owns an Official World Golf Ranking of No. 4. He won the CJ Cup and Sentry Tournament of Champions with a combined 34-under par and has finished in the top 10 in five of his eight events this season. He is fourth on Tour in scoring average at 69.23.

How to make 2020 Players Championship predictions

Johnson is all over a monster long shot who has consecutive top-five finishes and played well at Sawgrass last year. This golfer has not won yet on the PGA Tour, but has plenty of momentum and could be poised for a shocking victory. Anyone who backs this underdog could hit it big.

Who wins the Players Championship? Where do McIlroy and Thomas finish? And which monster long shot is a must-back? Check out the odds below, then visit SportsLine to see Sal Johnson’s full leaderboard, picks and analysis for the 2020 Players Championship, all from the insider who nailed the Tour Championship and knows what it takes to win at TPC Sawgrass.

2020 Players Championship odds

Rory McIlroy 7-1
Jon Rahm 10-1
Justin Thomas 16-1
Bryson DeChambeau 18-1
Patrick Cantlay 20-1
Hideki Matsuyama 20-1
Xander Schauffele 20-1
Tommy Fleetwood 25-1
Dustin Johnson 28-1
Sungjae Im 28-1
Webb Simpson 30-1
Rickie Fowler 33-1
Patrick Reed 33-1
Adam Scott 33-1
Brooks Koepka 40-1
Matt Kuchar 40-1
Gary Woodland 40-1
Tyrrell Hatton 45-1
Marc Leishman 45-1
Collin Morikawa 45-1
Daniel Berger 50-1
Tony Finau 55-1
Paul Casey 60-1
Byeong Hun An 66-1
Jason Day 66-1
Matthew Fitzpatrick 66-1
Justin Rose 66-1
Abraham Ancer 70-1
Sergio Garcia 70-1
Louis Oosthuizen 70-1
Scottie Scheffler 70-1
Harris English 80-1
Billy Horschel 80-1
Shane Lowry 80-1
Jordan Spieth 80-1
Henrik Stenson 80-1
Viktor Hovland 90-1
Bud Cauley 100-1
Ian Poulter 100-1
Brandt Snedeker 100-1
Bubba Watson 100-1

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