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3 Dark Horse Picks to Win THE PLAYERS Championship 2021

Jason Day
Jason Day / Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

This week THE PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass brings together 49 of the top 50 players in the Official World Golf Rankings. That includes 2019 champion Rory McIlroy, who is the defending champ after last year's event was cancelled following Round 1 due to the pandemic.

McIlroy will be a popular fantasy golf pick this week, and with odds of +1800 at FanDuel Sportsbook, which makes him one of the favorites to win the event. Dustin Johnson (+1200) leads the field as favorite, followed by last week's Arnold Palmer Invitational winner, Bryson DeChambeau (+1700), Jon Rahm (+1700) and Justin Thomas (+1900).

But looking down the odds board a little further, here are three dark horse picks who could win THE PLAYERS Championship.

3. Corey Conners (+8000)

Corey Connors is a rising 29-year-old Canadian who is accurate and improved since his T-41 finish on debut in this event in 2019. His solid skills with strong approach and Tee-to-Green stats were on display last week in his third-place finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Connors has finished top-25 in seven of his last nine PGA Tour events including top-10 at last fall's Masters. Over his last 36 rounds, Conners ranks top-11 in ball striking and Strokes Gained (SG): Off-the-Tee, and top-20 in SG: Tee-to-Green. His approach stats are also solid put him in the top-30 when stacking up against this field. Connors' short game and around the green play has held him back from more top finishes, along with his putting. But the Canadian's 3.8 strokes gained Putting last week was his best performance this season. He may lack experience on this course, but Connors' numbers in key stats this season, along with his current form make him a dark horse to consider.

2. Jason Day (+4700)

Jason Day won this event in 2016 when he was at the top of his game and ranked No. 1 in the world. He's had a pair of top-10 finishes in this event since, and TPC Sawgrass is one of the most experience-favouring courses on the PGA Tour. Day ranks second in adjusted scoring on this course over the last five renewals. He battled neck and back injuries last year, but is rounding into solid form again and remains one of the top putters and short-game players on tour. Day has finished top-10 and top-20 in two recent events. His only over par score over his last 15 rounds came in last week's final round in brutally tough conditions that dropped him out of the top 20. Still, he's a Sawgrass specialist that can contend as a longshot this week.

1. Patrick Cantlay (+2100)

Patrick Cantlay has been consistently excellent over his last six starts with six top-20 finishes, including three top-five finishes, plus a win. He has finished top-25 in two of his three starts at TPC Sawgrass. The Stadium Course at Sawgrass requires precision ball striking and approach play. Cantlay ranks top-10 on tour in stats that correlate to that, including SG: Around-The-Green (10th), SG: Tee-To-Green (7th) and SG: Total (3rd). Cantlay also ranks top-5 in bogey avoidance on tour. He's an impressive shot-maker who has excelled on other Pete Dye-designed courses. Cantlay is a contender to include this week, noting too that he opened with a 67 here last year before the event was cancelled.

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