Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy opened as favorites (+1150) at this weekend’s Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass. Right behind was 25-year-old rising star Justin Thomas, who came in at +1550 leading up to “golf’s fifth major.”
His Thursday showing in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, had him falling down the leaderboard, tied at 36th at one-under par. As a result, he’s now standing at +3150 odds of winning the tournament, as of Thursday afternoon.
But Thomas’ play is important to watch not only this weekend, if you’re looking to wager on the young pro, but in the month to come as he prepares for the Masters in April. He’ll also tee off at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at the end of March in Austin, Texas, and he’ll be a hot pick to win in either tournament.
Currently fourth in the PGA Tour World Ranking, Thomas finished tied for 30th in his last tournament, The Honda Classic. However, he placed in the top 10 in the three other tournaments he entered in February, with a second-place finish in the Genesis Open and third place in the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Thomas broke onto the scene in 2017 with his first major title win at the PGA Championship. In his career, he’s accumulated 9 PGA Tour victories. The Louisville native also began working with fellow Players Championship contender and golf legend Tiger Woods (currently +2000), who sat right alongside Thomas in the opening odds despite struggling with a neck strain that forced him to withdraw from the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Aside from Thomas’ success on the golf course, he’s garnered attention for his outspoken nature on social media. He’s vocal on Twitter about anything that comes to mind, from unwarranted golf penalties to Alabama football, and is unapologetically honest in press conferences. He’s not just an entertaining player to watch, but one to listen closely to before and after he’s packed up his clubs.
This weekend, Thomas will vie for first place and $2.25 million, along with a five-year PGA Tour membership exemption and three-year exemption into each major. The overall prize pool of $12.5 million in the Players Championship will be the largest ever offered for a single tournament in the history of professional golf. For the first time since 2006, the event is also being held in March instead of May due to the PGA Tour’s overhaul of the schedule.
Six of the last nine Players Championships were decided by two strokes or fewer. With no clear-cut favorite heading into the tournament, expect a close finish and a solid chance Thomas could end up near the top of the 144-player field. Should he pull off the win, he’ll have even more reason to feel confident heading into April’s Masters tournament, where Thomas finished tied for 17th in 2018.