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With the 2022 Players Championship fast approaching, the key question everyone's asking is the same across the golf world: Who are you picking to win at TPC Sawgrass in the biggest event of the year thus far. With a tremendous field featuring 47 of the top 50 golfers in the world, we are in for an epic ride beginning with Thursday's first round.

No matter how you want to categorize The Players, it's a big-time event. Just look at the aforementioned field. Players storylines are plentiful, and the star power is no joke. Justin Thomas will be looking for consecutive wins at the event, while Jon Rahm is seeking to hold onto his world No. 1 status. There's also plenty of golfers still trying to hit their stride with the 2022 Masters fast approaching.

So what is going to happen this week in Florida? Let's take a look at a full set of predictions and picks from our CBS Sports experts. Check out a full set of 2022 Players Championship odds via Caesars Sportsbook.

2022 Players Championship expert picks, predictions

Kyle Porter, senior golf writer

Winner -- Justin Thomas (14-1): I know nobody has gone back to back at TPC Sawgrass, but I'm unconcerned with how this multi-decade history actually affects J.T. in 2022. He's playing quite well (fifth in ball-striking over his last 20 rounds) and hasn't finished outside the top 20 so far this season (four of those have been top 10s). 

Sleeper -- Adam Scott (50-1): Quietly playing quite well with three top 10s in five starts. His history here is as good as anybody in the field, and his number is way too long at 50-1. In his last five starts at TPC Sawgrass, Scott has finished in the top 12 four times. His career strokes gained of 1.99 is fifth-best in the field behind Si Woo Kim, Hideki Matsuyama, J.T. and Sergio Garcia. Oh, and he's somehow become one of the best putters in the world.

Top 10 lock -- Brooks Koepka: Koepka has the 11th-best historical strokes gained number at TPC Sawgrass of anybody in this field and outperforms his expectation on this golf course by over a half stroke per round, according to Data Golf. His numbers are really long this week despite the fact that he's coming in off a near win in Phoenix and a top 20 at the Honda Classic a few weeks ago. He should be amped for such a big-time event, and though there are better choices for who will actually finish in the top 10, there aren't any better numbers on four-time major winners than this one.

Star who definitely won't win -- Dustin Johnson: I'm not feeling it with D.J. right now. He's been carried by his putter of late and doesn't have a top-20 finish on the PGA Tour. Additionally, he's pretty mediocre (for him) at this golf course, potentially because distance is not as prominently rewarded here as it is at most other PGA Tour courses. I would be stunned if he won this week.

Surprise prediction -- Two of the top five players in the world miss the cut: That group includes Jon Rahm, Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland, Patrick Cantlay and Scottie Scheffler, mind you. There is a lot of variance at TPC Sawgrass, and it creates volatility year over year (case in point: Rory McIlroy has gone MC-Win-MC in his last three starts here). There will be some massive names packing their bags on Friday evening, and I think a few of them will be among the best in the world.

Lowest round: 64 (-8)
Winning score: 277 (-11)
Winner's Sunday score: 70 (-4)


Kyle Boone, writer

Winner -- Viktor Hovland (20-1): Hovland missed the cut a year ago by two strokes after incurring a two-stroke penalty in his opening round for failing to return his ball to the correct spot on the 15th green. Since then, he's blossomed into one of the sport's bright young stars with five top-five finishes and two wins on the PGA Tour in that span. He enters the week coming off T4 and T2 finishes at The Genesis and the Arnold Palmer Invitational, respectively. The combination of his polished iron game and distance off the tee should give him a chance to take home what would be his third win of the season.

Sleeper -- Talor Gooch (50-1): There are few sleepers in the field who have the same potential Gooch does. He's making just his third start in this event and one of those two starts (in 2019) ended in a missed cut, but he finished T5 in a loaded field a year ago and is enjoying a career year this season. It's pretty easy to envision him making another strong showing this week coming off a T7 at the Arnold Palmer that easily could have been better if not for a brutal final round.

Top 10 lock -- Collin Morikawa: Morikawa's iron play is the stuff of legend but his short game -- particularly his putting -- is always the big unknown with him. If he's putting well, then look out. And he is indeed putting well of late. He's fourth on the Tour this season in strokes gained putting and ranks in the same spot in strokes gained with his approach. If the putter stays hot, he has a real shot to win it, and we've already seen the two-time major champion rise to the occasion in big spots.

Star who definitely won't win -- Dustin Johnson: The former world No. 1 hasn't turned in an under-par day in his last three rounds and he's coming off a brief week at the Genesis in which he failed to make the cut. Additionally, The Players -- outside of a T5 finish in 2019 -- hasn't exactly been kind to D.J. He finished T48 a year ago and hasn't had a top-10 there (outside of 2019) in his other 11 career starts.

Surprise prediction -- The winner will trail by more than one stroke entering the final day: A year ago, Thomas trailed by three strokes before clipping Lee Westwood to take home the trophy. In 2019 (the 2020 event was canceled), McIlroy trailed by one stroke as part of a furious final round in which he, Jim Furyk, Eddie Pepperrell and Jhonattan Vegas all surged up the leaderboard on the final day. My surprise prediction is that, on a course conducive to giving up low scores, the winner has to stage a comeback in the final round.

Lowest round: 64 (-8)
Winning score: 273 (-15)
Winner's Sunday score: 67 (-5)


Jacob Hallex, producer

Winner -- Collin Morikawa (14-1): Things look like they might get wet this week in Ponte Vedra, and that means we're playing lift, clean and place for every ball that ends up in the fairway. Let's look down the board and find the accurate drivers and top-flight iron players. Morikawa ticks both of those boxes. Last time we saw Morikawa, he was making a weekend charge at the Genesis Invitational. I like the fact he skipped Bay Hill last week, too, as he will be rested for TPC Sawgrass. 

Sleeper -- Brooks Koepka (35-1): This is going to be a chalky sleeper pick, but I can't help but root for Brooks in this spot. The guy thrives when conditions are tough, and he almost won the Phoenix Open just a few weeks ago. It's a principle play for me to back a player with this much win power with a price this long. I'll take a flyer on Brooksie to win in Ponte Vedra. 

Top 10 lock -- Will Zalatoris (+375): Last year's Masters darling is rounding into form this time of year again. Willy Z finished 21st in his Players Championship debut in 2021. Now that he's coming off a recent playoff loss to Luke List at the Farmers Insurance Open, I'm expecting the ball-striking clinic to continue.  

Star who definitely won't win -- Jon Rahm: Things feel like they're trending in the wrong direction for Rahmbo, particularly on and around the greens where Rahm has lost strokes in putting in his past three events and lost around the green in 6 of 7 measured events this season. I'm not running out to bet Rahm for a missed cut, just pointing out that I'm not in love with his outlook for the week. 

Surprise prediction -- Patrick Cantlay misses the cut: The course history just hasn't been there for the 2021 FedEx Cup Champion. I may or may not be biased because a missed cut here last year ruined my one-and-done hopes and a money list ticket I had on Patty Ice … but I digress. I'll happily fade Cantlay in matchups and throw a little on him to miss the cut at +275.

Lowest round: 64 (-8)
Winning score: 269 (-19)
Winner's Sunday score: 68 (-4)

Who will win The Players Championship, and which long shots will stun the golfing world? Visit SportsLine now to see the projected leaderboard and best bets, all from the model that's nailed seven golf majors and is up almost $9,000 since the restart.