/Players Championship predictions, odds 2021: Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth picks from PGA expert
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Players Championship predictions, odds 2021: Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth picks from PGA expert

Things are slowly getting back to normal for the PGA Tour, and a year after the pandemic abruptly wiped out golf’s “fifth major” after one round, the players are eager to hit TPC Sawgrass for the 2021 Players Championship. The event tees off Thursday in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., and 48 of the top 50 players in the world will be on hand. The tournament will allow 20 percent of its normal capacity of fans, and Rory McIlroy, who won the event in 2019, will be the defending champion.

William Hill Sportsbook lists reigning FedEx Cup champion Dustin Johnson as the 12-1 favorite in its latest 2021 PGA Championship odds, with Bay Hill winner Bryson DeChambeau right behind at 16-1. Others expected to contend from the 2021 Players Championship field are McIlroy and Jon Rahm, both at 16-1, Xander Schauffele (20-1) and Justin Thomas (20-1). Before you lock in your 2021 Players Championship picks or PGA Tour predictions, you need to see who Sal Johnson is backing.

A media legend and consummate golf insider, Johnson has a strong feel for what it takes to win at TPC Sawgrass. Before the last full Players event in 2019, he tabbed McIlroy in his best bets even though the Northern Irishman had missed the cut the previous year and hadn’t won on tour in just shy of a full calendar year.

“One thing that bothers everyone is the fact that in the last year he has played in the final group eight times and hasn’t been able to win.” Johnson said at the time. “But we all know he is too good and at worst will back into a win.”

That is exactly what happened, as McIlroy shot 67-65 in the first two rounds then had to hold on after posting consecutive 70s to finish at 16 under and beat Jim Furyk by one stroke.

The golf expert also comes off a week where he pegged DeChambeau as his top choice to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational. “If he is putting well, his game is perfect for Bay Hill,” Johnson said.

That statement proved prescient when the tour’s big bopper had to sink a knee-knocking 5-footer for par on the 18th hole with Lee Westwood looking on. Westwood had just converted his 6-footer, and a miss would have forced a playoff. DeChambeau calmly drained it to secure his second victory of the year.

Johnson has been spot-on in his picks for more than a year. He was all over Johnson at the 2020 Masters, calling him a “man with a purpose” and proclaiming he would be nearly impossible to beat. Johnson simply went out and shot the lowest score in event history at 20 under to win by five strokes.

Earlier in the season, he pegged Sungjae Im as a top contender before his first Tour win at the Honda Classic in March before touting Tyrell Hatton to get his first tour victory the following week. Anyone who has followed Johnson’s advice has cashed in huge.

Now Johnson, the first producer of “Inside the PGA Tour,” a longtime ABC Sports golf producer who worked with Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Greg Norman, and the founder of the world’s top golf stats database, has released his highly confident 2021 Players Championship picks, and they will surprise you. You can only see them here.

Top 2021 Players Championship expert picks

Johnson is not expecting a lot from DeChambeau and is fading him even though he is one of the top favorites. He comes off a big win at Bay Hill, but TPC Sawgrass is a totally different animal. This course requires precision and strong play around three greens, and those aren’t the strengths of DeChambeau’s game. He has the talent to overpower any course, but there is trouble everywhere at Sawgrass and Johnson advises you stay away from him this week.

On the other hand, Johnson loves what he has seen from Jon Rahm, who is at his best when facing the best. The world’s No. 2 player had finished in the top 25 in all eight events this season before tying for 32nd at The Concession. He shot two rounds of 68 there and was derailed by a 76. He has five top-10s in the nine tournaments, and he is fourth in strokes gained tee-to-green and hits 71.6 percent of his greens (14th on tour), which will be critical this week at Sawgrass.

The golf expert also has been keeping a close eye on Jordan Spieth, who looks to be back in form after an extended funk. The three-time major champion still hasn’t won since 2017, but he was in contention at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week before finishing fourth. It was his third top-four finish in four events, and he is 42 under par over that span. His stats have not caught up, but he is 11th on tour in strokes gained: around the green, which will be a critical point with the raised greens at TPC Sawgrass.

How to make 2021 Players Championship predictions

Johnson is pushing a huge long shot this week who comes in higher than 50-1. This young player has never played Sawgrass, but he showed last week that the heat and windy conditions won’t get to him. This golfer has the total package, and this could be the week he breaks through. You can only see who it is here.

Who wins the Players Championship 2021? Where do Rahm and McIlroy finish? And which long shot is a must-back? Check out the odds below, then visit SportsLine to see Sal Johnson’s full leaderboard, picks and analysis, all from the insider who was all over McIlroy’s win in the 2019 Players Championship.

2021 Players Championship odds (via William Hill)

Dustin Johnson 12-1
Rory McIlroy 16-1
Bryson DeChambeau 16-1
Jon Rahm 16-1
Xander Schauffele 20-1
Justin thomas 20-1
Webb Simpson 22-1
Collin Morikawa 22-1
Patrick Cantlay 22-1
Tony Finau 25-1
Jordan Spieth 25-1
Viktor Hovland 25-1
Tyrrell Hatton 33-1
Tommy Fleetwood 35-1
Scottie Scheffler 35-1
Hideki Matsuyama 35-1
Patrick Reed 35-1
Daniel Berger 35-1
Matthew Fitzpatrick 40-1
Sungjae Im 45-1
Paul Casey 45-1
Jason Day 45-1
Joaquin Niemann 50-1
Cameron Smith 50-1
Louis Oosthuizen 55-1
Adam Scott 55-1
Will Zalatoris 60-1
Christiaan Bezuidenhout 66-1
Jason Kokrak 66-1
Lee Westwood 70-1
Sergio Garcia 70-1
Harris English 70-1
Max Homa 70-1
Billy Horschel 70-1
Abraham Ancer 70-1
Justin Rose 80-1
Corey Conners 80-1
Kevin Na 90-1
Francesco Molinari 90-1
Marc Leishman 100-1
Russell Henley 100-1
Lanto Griffin 100-1
Sam Burns 100-1
Si-Woo Kim 100-1
Carlos Ortiz 100-1
Kevin Kisner 100-1