The PGA Tour is back in the U.S. for this week’s Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson, Miss. This event has a long history on the Tour but has typically been an alternate event, going opposite The Open Championship, the Ryder Cup and the WGC-HSBC Championship in recent years. Last year was the first year the tournament was elevated to a standalone event with full benefits for the winner, including 500 FedEx Cup points. It will be the fourth event of the 2020-21 season and take place for the seventh straight year at the Country Club of Jackson, which we’ll break down later in this post.
The field is a slight improvement on last week’s at the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship and we should start to see more recognizable names trickle back into the upcoming events as stars gear up for The Masters in mid-November. Sebastian Munoz ($9,900) will be back to defend his 2019 title and previous winners at this track Ryan Armour ($6,400), Peter Malnati ($6,300) and Nick Taylor ($7,400) are also expected to tee it up this week. However, the last six winners of the Sanderson Farms Championship have been first-time winners on the PGA TOUR, so don’t be surprised if another player who has never won before hoists the unique Reveille the Rooster trophy on Sunday.
The Country Club of Jackson opened way back in 1914 but underwent a major overhaul and re-design in 2008 by John Fought, who fashioned the course in a layout that is very similar to other Donald Ross-designed venues. It’s a parkland-style course with smaller, tricky greens that plays as a par 72. The other events played on Donald Ross-designed courses each year are the Wyndham Championship and the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
Some key stats to take note of are proximity from 125-150 yards and from 200-plus yards and strokes gained on approach. Last year’s winner Muñoz actually lost shots around the greens while gaining strokes on the green and dialing in his approach shots. Longer drivers can cut the corners on several doglegs and carry some of the fairway bunkers, so longer hitters typically do well. The two most recent winners, Muñoz and Cameron Champ, are long hitters who are streaky putters. Putting is always key to success, obviously, and historically players who rank high in strokes gained: putting do usually well on these greens. The course typically surrenders good scores with the winner finishing -18 or better five straight years.
As we continue through the fall with shallower fields, finding value at the cheap end of the salary structure will continue to be critical. Last week, the winner and three of the top four players were priced under $7K and turned out to be great value investments. Let’s take a look at who stands out this week from the options available for under $7,500 on DraftKings.
Cameron Tringale, $7,300
Tringale was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard at the PGA Championship in August but bounced back with a T29 at THE NORTHERN TRUST before being eliminated from the postseason. He missed the cut at the Safeway Open to start this season but is comfortable at this venue, as he has shown in making the cut in each of the past three seasons. Last season, he opened with a 70 before shooting rounds of 68-69-69 to finish T16. He built on a strong showing in the fall last year to finish No. 82 in the FedEx Cup standings.
Throughout last season, the big Californian showcased a much-improved iron game, ranking eighth on the Tour in SG: Approach. He was in the top 10 in proximity in the key 125-150 yard range as well. Not only did Tringale finish well on this particular course last season, but he also made the cut and finished T30 at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, the other Ross-designed course he played. He will need to shake off his rough start to the season but could be a nice value based on his statistical profile from last season and past success on this track.
Cameron Percy, $7,200
If you like to play golfers coming in off of good results, Percy is a good place to get some value after starting the new season with back-to-back top 25s at the Safeway Open and the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship. Percy has gained an impressive 1.495 shots putting per round in his four rounds measured in the early going. He is also gaining over half a shot per round on approach. Last season, Percy ranked in the top 25 in SG: Approach, so his iron game has had the kind of success to target at this venue.
Last Sunday, Percy climbed the leaderboard with a strong five-under-par round for a T8 finish in Punta Cana. He also had a T11 finish last year at the Sanderson Farms Championship, where he has made the cut in each of his past four trips. There looks to be a convergence of past results and recent form that sets up well for the veteran Aussie to put together a nice week in Jackson.
J.J. Spaun, $6,600
Spaun made the cut at both his events on the PGA TOUR so far this season, including his first top-10 finish since 2018 with a strong T9 at the Safeway Open. He followed that up with a T56 at Corales last week. Despite a rough weekend, I think Spaun is in a good spot to find success this week since his irons have looked very on-point lately. He gained 1.282 shots on approach in his four rounds at Silverado, where he was top 10 in Driving Accuracy and Greens in Regulation as well.
Spaun has played the Sanderson Farms Championship in three of the past four years and made the cut in each of his past two visits with a T34 in 2017 and a T36 in 2019. Spaun is also 2-for-2 making the cut at the Detroit Golf Club and 2-for-3 at Sedgefield with top 20s at each of those Ross designs. Fatigue could be a factor since he did fade a bit on Sunday, but I see Spaun is a solid cut-making pick from under $7K.
Wesley Bryan, $6,300
Bryan only played four events on the PGA TOUR last season partially due to still recovering from shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in January 2018. Bryan did make the cut in all four tournaments he played, though, as he tried to make the most of his medical exemption. Two of those events were held on Donald Ross-designed tracks. Bryan posted a T31 at the Wyndham Championship and a T21 at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Bryan also made the cut in his two most recent events on the Korn Ferry Tour at the El Bosque Mexico Championship in March and the TPC San Antonio Championship in July. He missed the cut in his first event this season on the number with a -4 at the Safeway Open and sat out last week’s event in the Dominican.
Bryan was hot with his irons when he did tee it up last season, gaining 1.284 shots per round on approach in his 16 measured rounds. He lost strokes with the putter but was solid tee-to-green. The 30-year-old was starting to make a name for himself before the injury and has the kind of game to produce good results on this course. His success on similar layouts in similar fields is an encouraging sign for him this week in Mississippi.
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