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2021 Players Championship odds, predictions: Golf insider breaks down PGA Tour field, reveals surprising picks

Consummate golf stats expert Sal Johnson showed an uncanny knack for picking long shots last year, and he nailed Bryson DeChambeau's win last week. Now, he provides his best bets for this week's event at TPC Sawgrass
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A loaded field that includes 48 of the top 50 players in the world will be on hand Thursday when the 2021 Players Championship tees off at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is the 12-1 favorite in the latest 2021 Players Championship odds from William Hill Sportsbook, with  Bryson DeChambeau the 14-1 second favorite and Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm listed at 16-1. 

Before you lock in any of your 2021 Players Championship picks, you MUST 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.

We can tell you Johnson is not expecting a lot from DeChambeau and is fading him even though he is a top favorite! He comes off a big win at Bay Hill, but TPC Sawgrass is a totally different animal, and the big hitter could struggle. This course requires precision and strong play around the greens, and those aren't the strengths of DeChambeau's game. He has the talent to overpower any course, but Johnson advises to stay away from him this week!    

Instead, Johnson is pushing a HUGE long shot 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. Anyone who backs this underdog could cash in BIG!

Who wins the 2021 Players Championship? Where do Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy finish? And which HUGE long shot is a MUST-BACK? ... Join SportsLine now to see Sal Johnson's full leaderboard and picks for the 2021 Players Championship, all from the insider who knows what it takes to win at TPC Sawgrass!

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SportsLine Staff
SportsLine Staff