Sanderson Farms Championship Preview

Sanderson Farms Championship Golf Preview

Wednesday, September 29th, 2021

New PGA Tour Back Underway After Ryder Cup Break With Sergio Garcia Defending His Sanderson Farms Championship

With the excitement of the Ryder Cup in the rear-view mirror, the 2021-22 PGA Tour resumes its schedule with its second event of the young season—the Sanderson Farms Championship from the Country Club of Jackson in Jackson, Mississippi.

Sergio Garcia was the winner here a year ago, coming in as a +7000 longshot to win with a 19-under 269, beating Peter Malnati by one stroke to claim his first win in over three years, dating back to the 2017 Masters. Garcia is at +1800 here to defend his crown and is the only golfer who participated on either Ryder Cup team entered in this event.

The tournament began in 1968 (as the Magnolia Classic) and was an official money event on the PGA Tour since 1994. It has undergone several name changes from 1986 through 2013, when Sanderson Farms, a Mississippi-based company that is one of the leading food corporations in the United States, took over as title sponsor. But it has increased in status in recent years, as it was historically played on the same weekend as major events like the Masters, Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup, or The Open Championship. With a limited field that did not draw top golfers, the event was designated an “alternate event” by the PGA Tour, meaning that the winner only got an invitation to the PGA Championship of the four majors and also received fewer FedEx Cup points than a normal event.

The event was a part of the Fall Series from 2007-10, which meant that the field was usually filled with golfers trying to make the top 125 on the money list in order to retain their PGA Tour cards for the following season. It was then moved to the summer to go opposite The Open Championship, and the event was most recently played opposite the WGC-HSBC Champions in China from 2014-18.

In 2019, the event was moved to the second tournament of the new season and is a stand-alone event that gives full benefits to the winner, including 500 FedEx Cup points, PGA Tour exemptions, and an invitation to the Masters. The prize money also increased, with the purse in 2018 being $4.4 million and jumped to $7 million this year. Garcia earned $1,188,000 for his win last year, which was more than double the $540,000 Woody Austin got as the 2013 winner.

The Course

The Country Club of Jackson opened in 1914 and has played host of the Sanderson Farms Championship since 2014. It was played at the Hattiesburg Country Club from 1968 through 1993, when it was moved to the Annandale Golf Club in Madison, Mississippi through the 2013 edition of the event.

The 18-hole course that the pros use was redesigned in 2008 and is a par-72 track that measures 7,460 yards. The biggest challenge are tricky greens that are a bit on the smaller side compared to other courses. The tees do not provide a huge challenge for most of the field, so a hot putter will likely be the difference here. The par-3 holes come in bunches, as four holes from No. 4-13 are par 3. Holes 3 and 5 are par 5, as are 11 and 14. The course finishes off with four-straight par 4s. No. 15 is just 330 yards, but the other three are long. No. 16 and 17 are over 400 yards, while the final hole is a challenging 505-yard par 4 that doesn’t give a golfer trying to win the tournament any favors.

The lowest score shot in the tournament on the current course belongs to Cameron Champ, who won with a 21-under 267 in 2018.

The event has also produced several winners who were longshots going in. Champ’s win in 2018 saw him go off at +4500, and that’s been the lowest odds for a winner in the last six years. In fact, three of those six winners were at +10000 or higher prior to the start of the tournament. In addition, a first-time winner breaking through isn’t out of the question, as six of the past eight winners hadn’t previously claimed a victory on the PGA Tour.

The Field

Sergio Garcia is the defending champion and most notable player in the field. One would think that it might be difficult for him to be mentally and physically ready for this event after playing in the Ryder Cup just a few days ago, but he was one of the few European team members to play well at Whistling Straits, and he also has historically performed well in events after the Ryder Cup—since 2008, he has two runner-up finishes and a win in five tournaments. He’s also had the best tee-to-green performance of anyone in the field over the last 20 rounds.

Sam Burns is the betting favorite at +1200. Burns is coming off a solid 2021 campaign where he won his first event (Valspar Championship) and also recorded a second- and third-place finish among eight top-10 finishes. In recent weeks, the second-place finish came at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, and he was also eighth at the BMW Championship at the end of August. He hasn’t played since the Tour Championship three weeks ago. He also led (or was tied for the lead) in more tournaments after 36 holes than any other golfer in 2020-21, with five such instances. Burns qualified for the Tour Championship for the first time and finished 18th in the final FedEx Cup standings. This will be his fifth time playing the Sanderson Farms Championship, and he finished tied for third place in 2018.

Will Zalatoris is at +1500 and is a good bet if you are looking for the first-time winner trend to continue at the Country Club of Jackson. The 25-year-old was not exempt on the PGA Tour last season but otherwise would’ve made the FedEx Cup playoffs if he were. He had eight top-10s but needed to win an event in order to be eligible for the playoffs. He made a name for himself by finishing runner-up at the Masters, eighth at the PGA Championship, and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open in 2020. He placed eighth at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational and then wrapped his season up with a 29th place finish at the Wyndham Championship. He started the 2021-22 campaign—his first as a full member of the PGA Tour—with an 11th place finish at the Fortinet Championship and led the field in greens-in-regulation there. Zalatoris made 21 out of 25 cuts last season, but interestingly enough, one of those cuts took place at the Sanderson Farms Championship a year ago. Zalatoris is probably the most talented golfer in this field next to Garcia and it’s only a matter of time before he claims his first title.

Sungjae Im is also at +1500 and lost here in a playoff to Sebastian Munoz in 2019. He’s averaging a four-under 68 in his last eight rounds at the Country Club of Jackson, which would put him in contention if he can continue that trend. Im is looking for his second win on the tour following his victory at the 2020 Honda Classic. He is also a birdie machine, as he’s led the PGA Tour in birdies for three-straight seasons, carding 498 last year, which is the most in the history of the tour since those records started being kept in 1980. He finished tied for second at the 2020 Masters and became the first person from Asia to come in the top-two at Augusta (before Hideki Matsuyama won the event in 2021). Im also represented South Korea at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, finishing tied for 22nd. He had a rough middle part of 2021 but finished strong with top-20 finishes in all three FedEx Cup playoff events, including third at the BMW Championship.

Corey Conners rolls off Thursday morning at +1800. This will be his sixth trip to Jackson, where he was a runner up in 2018 and came in 17th last year. He made it all the way to the Tour Championship last year, finishing 22nd in the final FedEx Cup point standings. Among the highlights of last season was a third-place finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, a T4 at the RBC Heritage, and seventh at The Players Championship. Conners also finished in the top 10 at both the 2020 and ’21 Masters, which were a part of the 2020-21 PGA Tour season. He hasn’t claimed a victory, however, since the Valero Texas Open in 2019. The Canadian was also 13th at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics golf competition.

Charley Hoffman leads a group of golfers next on the odds chart at +2500. Hoffman started the new season with a 22nd at the Fortinet Championship after he narrowly missed qualifying for the Tour Championship, sitting in 32nd place in the FedEx Cup standings after the BMW Championship. He is just one of six golfers, however, to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs in all 15 years that it’s been contested, owning to his consistency. Hoffman has also been a consistent performer at Jackson, making three-straight cuts and leading after 18 holes last year before finishing tied for sixth. The 44-year-old has four wins on the PGA Tour but hasn’t claimed victory since the 2016 Valero Texas Open. Despite not winning last year, he was second at last year’s Valero Texas Open and tied for third at the Charles Schwab Challenge.

Cameron Tringale is also at +2500 and had a top-25 two weeks ago in Napa. He also doesn’t have a PGA Tour win to his credit, but two of seven top-three finishes came last season (Valspar Championship and The RSM Classic). He’s only played four times since finishing tied for 26th at The Open Championship, coming in 21st at The Northern Trust and 52nd at the BMW Championship, which wasn’t enough to qualify for the Tour Championship.

Si Woo Kim is the other golfer rolling out at +2500, coming off a season debut at the Fortinet Championship where he ended up tied for 11th. After winning the Wyndham Championship in 2016 and The Players Championship in 2017, Kim returned to the winner’s stage last year at The American Express. He made the FedEx Cup playoffs for the sixth-straight year but missed qualifying for the Tour Championship by four spots. He was 37th in last year’s Sanderson Farms Championship, carding a 67 on the final day.

Keegan Bradley is worth a look as one of the five golfers at +3000. Bradley debuted at this event last year with a fourth-place finish, and he can play long courses and holes well, leading everyone in this year’s field in scoring on par 5s. Bradley is usually a workhorse, so we’ll also see how having over a month off in between tournaments will affect him. Kevin Streelman has played in this event every year since 2015 and owns a top-10 in 2017 and a fourth-place finish in 2019. He’s on a nice run of six top-20 finishes in his last 10 starts on tour. Cameron Davis finished sixth here last year and shot a 63 in the third round, which was the lowest rounded carded in this event in 2020. Harold Varner III has three-straight top-20 finishes after a 16th two weeks ago at Silverado.

At +3500 sits Seamus Power, who had a great summer but hasn’t played since the Northern Trust, has made 11-straight cuts and won the Barbasol Championship for his first win on tour back in July. The hot streak also includes top 10s at the AT&T Byron Nelson, the Rocket Mortgage Classic, and the John Deere Classic. Mito Pereira is another player who could earn his first win this week. He lines up favorably in strokes-gained over his last 20 rounds compared to everyone else in the field, and he came in third place at the Fortinet Championship to open the season.

If you’re looking for potential longshots, start with Sebastian Munoz. The 2019 winner of this event hasn’t performed spectacularly as of late, but he has made the cut here four-straight times, including a 23rd place finish a year ago. Prior to missing the cut at the Fortinet Championship, he had a nice run of four tournaments that included top 30s at the Wyndham Championship, The Northern Trust, and the BMW Championship to go along with a fourth-place finish at the Olympics in early August.

A pair of golfers at +6000 are also worth a look. C.T. Pan, the 2020 Olympic bronze medalist, tied for sixth at the Fortinet Championship two weeks ago and had a hot putter in that event. If he continues to putt well, he could improve on his 12th place finish at the Sanderson Farms Championship last year. His game off the tee seems to be better now than it was at this time a year ago. Scott Stallings is also +6000 and also was tied for sixth in the season-opening event two weeks ago. He also came in sixth place here last year and is a winner of this event in 2012, when it was held at Annandale.

Major longshots that might be worth a peek include Sahith Theegala (+10000). He’s a respectable 40th in this field in strokes gained and hit the ball well despite a 47th place finish two weeks ago at Silverado. Prior to that, he came in the top 10 in his last two starts on the Korn Ferry Tour. Brendon Todd (+9500) was tied for 22nd two weeks ago and is just over a year removed from being a two-time winner on the PGA Tour. He struggled making cuts down the stretch last season, but he did tie for 10th place at The Northern Trust. Joel Dahmen is a 2021 PGA Tour winner who is also a heavy underdog here at +10000. Dahmen won the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship last year and also came in seventh at the Barracuda Championship in August. Despite finishing 31st at The Northern Trust, he failed to advance further in the FedEx Cup playoffs and hasn’t played since late August in New Jersey.

Charities

Each PGA Tour event has a host organization and benefits other nonprofits. The tournament’s host organization is Century Club Charities, which is an organization that promotes the game of golf for the benefit of charity. The event’s primary charity is Friends of Children’s Hospital, which benefits the Batson Children’s Hospital at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson—the only hospital in the state of Mississippi that is 100% dedicated to treating children.

Top Golf Odds

Here are the latest odds from Jazzsports for the PGA Tour’s Sanderson Farms Championship.

GOLFERODDS TO WIN THE 2021 SANDERSON FARMS CHAMPIONSHIP
Sam Burns+1200
Will Zalatoris+1500
Sungjae Im+1500
Corey Conners+1800
Charley Hoffman+2500
Cameron Tringale+2500
Si Woo Kim+2500
Keegan Bradley+3000
Cameron Davis+3000
Mito Pereira / Harold Varner III / Kevin Streelman+3000

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