Golf betting: Defending champ Scottie Scheffler is the big Players Championship favorite and bettors love him

Scheffler had his best putting performance in nearly three years at the Arnold Palmer Invitational

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA - MARCH 12:  Scottie Scheffler of the United States plays a shot on the 14th hole during a practice round prior to THE PLAYERS Championship on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on March 12, 2024 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Scottie Scheffler had his best putting performance since the 2021 U.S. Open at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Bettors are enamored with Scottie Scheffler’s putting success at Bay Hill and his win at The Players Championship a season ago.

The 2023 champion is the overwhelming favorite to win the 2024 tournament at BetMGM and is also the preferred choice of bettors ahead of Thursday’s first round. Scheffler (+550) is getting over 15% of bets and nearly 24% of the money placed on the winner.

Scheffler won last year’s Players by five over Tyrrell Hatton as he shot 69 or better in all four rounds of the tournament. A week ago at Bay Hill in Orlando, Scheffler turned his putting weakness into a strength as he ran away from the field Sunday for a five-shot victory.

The No. 1 player in the world is the best golfer in the world from tee to green. But things have gotten dicey once Scheffler has broken out the putter. Since winning last season’s Players, Scheffler has played in 21 tournaments and lost strokes on the green in 11 of them according to Data Golf’s statistics. At the Arnold Palmer Invitational a week ago, Scheffler gained 1.3 strokes around the green, per Data Golf. That’s the most strokes he’s gained on the greens at a tournament since the 2021 U.S. Open

Rory McIlroy is the No. 2 favorite to win The Players all the way back at +1600. The 2019 Players champion has had flashes of brilliance so far this season, but those flashes have been canceled out by poor play.

No other golfer has odds better than +2200. Both Justin Thomas and Xander Schauffele are at +2200 while Will Zalatoris, Viktor Holland and Patrick Cantlay are all at +2500.

There is a decent reason to bet against Scheffler, McIlroy and any other golfer who has already won The Players already, however. Just three players since the turn of the century have scored a second Players win. Hal Sutton won his second in 2000, Davis Love III got his second in 2003 and Tiger Woods won his second in 2013 after getting his first win in 2001.

Since Woods’ win in 2013, The Players has had nine winners in nine tournaments. And a few of them have been blowouts. Though Rickie Fowler won in a playoff in 2015, four of the nine tournaments since 2013 have been won by three or more shots.