The Players Championship used to play fast and firm, but the golf tournament has been playing softer after moving from May to March three years ago. The result: more golfers have used drivers from the tee box, which could change the strategy behind your 2022 Players Championship bets when the tournament begins on Thursday. Justin Thomas is the reigning champion after shooting a 68 in the final round to win his first Players Championship in 2021. Thomas is listed at 14-1 to become a repeat winner in the latest 2022 Players Championship odds at Caesars Sportsbook.

Rory McIlroy was the defending champion heading into last year's event, but he missed the cut after two rounds. Can Thomas avoid the same fate this week in the Players Championship 2022? The first 2022 Players championship tee times are on Thursday at 6:45 a.m. ET. Before locking in your 2022 Players Championship picks, be sure to see the golf predictions and projected leaderboard from the proven computer model at SportsLine.

SportsLine's proprietary model, built by DFS pro Mike McClure, has been red-hot since the PGA Tour resumed in June of 2020. In fact, it's up almost $9,000 on its best bets since that point, nailing tournament after tournament.

At the 2021 Open Championship, McClure's best bets included Collin Morikawa winning outright even though he was listed as a massive 40-1 long shot. In addition, McClure's model was all over Jon Rahm's (10-1) first career major championship victory at the 2021 U.S. Open. Rahm was two strokes off the lead heading into the weekend, but the model still projected him as the winner. 

This same model has also nailed a whopping seven majors entering the weekend. Anyone who has followed it has seen massive returns.

Now that The Players Championship 2022 field is locked, SportsLine simulated the event 10,000 times, and the results were surprising. Head to SportsLine now to see the projected 2022 Players Championship leaderboard.

The model's top 2022 Players Championship predictions 

One major surprise the model is calling for at the 2022 Players Championship: Morikawa, a five-time PGA Tour champion and one of the top favorites, stumbles this week and doesn't even crack the top five. The 25-year-old is off to a blistering start this season, finishing T-7 or better in each of his last four official events, which includes a runner-up showing in his last start at the Genesis Invitational. 

However, Morikawa has struggled mightily at TPC Sawgrass, finishing outside the top-40 at The Players Championship in 2021. In addition, Morikawa has had trouble with his short game this season, ranking 118th in strokes gained: around-the-green (.005), which doesn't bode well for his chances to win this week. He's not a strong pick to win it all and there are far better values in The Players Championship 2022 field.

Another surprise: Will Zalatoris, a 40-1 long shot, makes a strong run at the title. He has a much better chance to win it all than his odds imply, so he's a target for anyone looking for a huge payday.

Zalatoris got off to a strong start at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week, shooting an opening-round 68. However, his next three rounds were all in the 70s, so he did not contend for the title. Still, Zalatoris gained 4.1 strokes from tee-to-green and 2.2 on approach.

He played in his first Players Championship last year, finishing just outside the top 20. His poor finish last weekend has created value as one of the 2022 Players Championship sleepers, according to SportsLine's model.

How to make 2022 Players Championship picks

The model is also targeting four other golfers with odds of 25-1 or higher who will make surprising runs. Anyone who backs these long shots could hit it big. You can only see them here.

So who will win The Players Championship 2022? And which long shots stun the golfing world? Check out the odds below and then visit SportsLine to see the projected 2022 Players Championship leaderboard, all from the model that's nailed seven golf majors and is up almost $9,000 since the restart.

2022 Players Championship odds

Justin Thomas +1400
Collin Morikawa +1400
Jon Rahm +1400
Rory McIlroy +1800
Viktor Hovland +2000
Scottie Scheffler +2500
Patrick Cantlay +2500
Xander Schauffele +2800
Hideki Matsuyama +3000
Dustin Johnson +3000
Daniel Berger +3000
Cameron Smith +3300
Brooks Koepka +3500
Shane Lowry +3500
Matt Fitzpatrick +3500
Jordan Spieth +4000
Sungjae Im +4000
Sam Burns +4000
Will Zalatoris +4000
Billy Horschel +4000
Joaquin Niemann +4500
Tyrrell Hatton +4500
Louis Oosthuizen +5000
Corey Conners +5000
Adam Scott +5000
Talor Gooch +5000
Tony Finau +5500
Paul Casey +6000
Webb Simpson +6600
Max Homa +6600
Cameron Young +6600
Tommy Fleetwood +6600
Abraham Ancer +6600
Gary Woodland +6600
Marc Leishman +6600
Sergio Garcia +7000
Chris Kirk +7000
Russell Henley +8000
Si-Woo Kim +8000
Jason Kokrak +8000
Jason Day +8000
Justin Rose +9000
Alex Noren +10000
Brian Harman +10000
Keith Mitchell +10000
Harold Varner +12500
Seamus Power +12500
Lee Westwood +12500
Patrick Reed +12500
Bubba Watson +12500
Cameron Tringale +12500
Maverick McNealy +12500
Thomas Pieters +12500
Ian Poulter +12500
Aaron Wise +15000
Lanto Griffin +15000
Sebastian Munoz +15000
Jhonattan Vegas +15000
Lucas Herbert +15000
Francesco Molinari +15000
Tom Hoge +15000
Mito Pereira +15000
Ryan Palmer +15000
Mackenzie Hughes +15000
Erik Van Rooyen +15000
Kevin Na +15000
Kevin Kisner +15000
Matthew Wolff +15000
Keegan Bradley +15000
Matt Jones +15000
Luke List +15000
Sepp Straka +17500 
Cam Davis +20000
Dylan Frittelli +20000
Martin Laird +20000
Kyoung-Hoon Lee +20000
Emiliano Grillo +20000
Patton Kizzire +20000
Brendon Todd +20000
Andrew Putnam +20000
Joel Dahmen +20000
Sahith Theegala +20000
Cameron Champ +20000
Russell Knox +20000
Denny McCarthy +20000
Matt Kuchar +20000
Adam Hadwin +20000
Charley Hoffman +20000
C.T. Pan +20000
Doug Ghim +25000
Stewart Cink +25000
Brendan Steele +25000
Wyndham Clark +25000
Lucas Glover +25000
Matthew NeSmith +25000
Pat Perez +25000
Chez Reavie +25000
Troy Merritt +25000
J.T. Poston +25000
Carlos Ortiz +25000
Henrik Stenson +25000
Beau Hossler +25000
Garrick Higgo +25000
Taylor Pendrith +25000
Matt Wallace +25000
Zach Johnson +25000
Charl Schwartzel +30000
Adam Long +30000
Hayden Buckley +30000
Sam Ryder +30000
Adam Schenk +30000
Hudson Swafford +30000
Doc Redman +30000
J.J. Spaun +30000
Lee Hodges +30000
Kevin Streelman +30000
Harry Higgs +30000
Brian Stuard +30000
Branden Grace +30000
Kramer Hickok +30000
Henrik Norlander +30000
Brandt Snedeker +30000
Ryan Brehm +30000